Drunk on a Cheap Bourdeaux
Marseille: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Ignore the Urine.
Ok - so our last day in Marseille was not...horrible. Marseille still gave us the finger by saying it was too windy to visit Chateau d'If, so we went to Frioul Islands instead, which while not as Antonio Banderas as the other island, was a lot more "picturesque Mediterranean island." That's something I'm ok with - well barring my fear of water that can hold sharks (this includes everything from seas, to pools, to Lake Minnetonka). We spent the remainder of Marseille wandering around and avoiding roving gangs of underground hip-hop artists - also known as "those assholes who keep me up with their so-called 'music.'"
With a nice, pretty day and nice wandering we had thought that Marseille was going to be nice to us and let us leave in peace. But no, karma is a bitch. Or rather, Marseille is a bitch. And a tricky one at that, a Richard Nixon if you will. Marseille let us leave just fine, but an hour outside of Marseille, in Nice (which apparently is not nice) THE TRAIN TRACKS CAUGHT FIRE. How does that happen? Who lets that happen? HOW DO YOU EVEN DO THAT? Needless to say we were delayed in the Nice train station for seven hours. Seriously, how long does it take to put out a fire? It either started as we were pulling in or sometime before. Marseille, we understand we hurt your feelings, but come on, maybe if you cleaned up a little, shaved, got a hair cut, some nice shoes, y'know, then maybe we could be seen in public together. Just let us get to our next destination, please.
There is a saying that good things come to those who wait. I would gladly (well...not angrily?) wait 12 hours to get to Bordeaux. Bordeaux is a pleasant 18th century French city. Pretty small, Bordeaux proper only has around 200,000 people but the urban area is made up of three or so cities/suburban areas, but that just means that it's serene and safe. We got lost for 2 hours and didn't see anything that would suggest that someone would have to go Liam Neeson on France's ass (this refers to both Qi-Gon Jinn and the dad from Taken...and all of his other movies).
Bordeaux also has a large amount of high class wine shops. But buying fine Bordeaux wine (which actually isn't the highest quality - more on that below) from a store is, in a word, lame. You gotta go straight to the grape's stem - the chateau itself. So, being the discerning French wine connoisseurs we are, we simply signed up for the first tour available to us.
We went to two different chateau's - one premier class and one independent vineyard. First, premier class - this means that of the three levels that exist for wineries (Bordeaux - laxest rules, Regional - specific types of wine, specific rules, Sectional - highest quality, strictest rules) it is the highest of a sectional winery. Chateau Guiraud produces sweet white wines and will be completely organic by 2011, the first of the premier class vineyards to do so. The independent vineyard, Chateau Beau-Site, produces red and dry white wines. Independent means that they do everything themselves from picking the grapes to labeling and selling (the part, which if my French is correct, is the part usually done elsewhere).
And, if you can't tell by my writing, totally sloshed out of my mind. That 1 cup of wine over 5 hours - jeez. You should see EE - passed out. Couldn't even form a sentence as we tried getting back on the bus. Some people just can't hold their sips and awkward swirling and smelling of alcohol.
So, all in all, the Bordeaux has been very very nice. I like it a lot - better than Paris and Marseille, but Strasbourg still holds a special place in that part of my heart reserved for France. However, that part of my heart is always being taken over by other parts, so we'll see how long that sentiment lasts.
In theory, I get home today. But knowing my luck with airplanes...
P.S. (This was not written while drunk on a cheap Bordeaux, it was actually written while tipsy on a nice Pessac-Leognan. I mean. Uh. The Valleix's didn't offer us wine. Ever.)