Life’s Connections

On Facebook, I posted a picture of three “older” ladies with umbrellas kicking up their heels. One even has a small, black and white dog on a leash. That could be us before the passing of my sweet Emma.

img_4698I posted the picture because I liked it. The ladies appear happy and they seem to be sharing a happy moment together. It’s the goal. So let’s go beyond the Facebook “Friends” we make with a click and take a moment to honor the true friends we love.

With the changes in my life, (retirement, moving) my good (and old) friends are a bit geographically rearranged. This means I have to travel to see my out of town friends and make the effort to connect with my local friends.

The caption on the picture is “It takes a long time to grow an old friend. Make sure to treasure them”. Well, maybe enough said, but when I break it down, I interpret “old friend” as “good friend”. In the last few years, I have made some “new friends” that are just as close as the “old friends”. So maybe it does not take a long time to grow old friends.

I think I would rewrite this phase as follows: It takes time to grow good friends. Make sure to treasure them”.

I would also add: “it takes time to grow one’s self as a person, as friend.”

Through-out one’s life, it is the basic human condition to connect with other humans. Many of these connections we are lucky to consider to be our friends.

When we are grade school age, we tend to make friends with the neighbor kids or the one sitting next to you in the third grade. These are the basis for many life long connections. But as your personal life evolves, you become involved in special interests, a sport or a relationship and these original friends may drift away or settle in the background, ready to catch up through out your life’s journey. These are “good friends” and “old friends”, the older we get!

Once out in the real world, we attract a new set of friends; work colleagues, someone living near you and friends with similar interests and life style.

The mystery of the “love connection” as filled volumes of books, discussed over countless adult beverages and still we often don’t understand our own attractions. I think the friendship connection is just as complex. In addition to “old friends”, and “good friends” I would like to introduce the concept of an “intimate friend”. This is a rare individual that can grace our lives with great value. I am blessed with friends that I treasure, “old”, “good” and/or “intimate”, they are a big part of life’s journey.

Just one more type of friend I would like to mention. The “effortless” friend. The one you go weeks, months and maybe years without seeing but when you get together, well it’s just like old times, or is it? The time you spend with friends, the ideas you share and the resulting tears and laughter enhances our lives. I think the bottom line here is for us all to be a “old”, “good” friend to those we share our life with.

To you my friends, I love you all!

Cheers

Connie

Route du Vin

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I have to admit, on our trips we may be on a Route de la Chèvre, but we are ALWAYS on the Route du Vin. Traveling with Bill, a seasoned traveler and  knowledgeable winemaker, he often guides our travels into food and wine decadence.

 

 

 

Bill, Nancy and most of our wine drinking friends prefer a dry wine experience. As a lesson in wine selection, the label or your server should provide you with some basic information: vintage, grape variety, origin and whether the product is dry or off dry. Here are some clues for searching for a dry wine.

France – Vin sec
Germany – Trocken wine
Italy – Vino secco
USA – Dry

From there you can match your choices to your varietal tastes and budget. For myself, I put down my menu and ask Bill to select something I will like. He is seldom wrong on this.

Beginning our trip in Bavaria, Bill spent an afternoon chatting with a charming Winzer or wine grower. The topics are all similar wherever we go, climate, soil conditions and environmental threats to the grapes.

German Wine Law requires 6 items to be included on the label. Unfortunately vintage and grape variety are not required. The best option is to decide white or red and the level of “Trocken” you desire.

We came home with two bottles of German wine, a Riesling and a Merlot from Gehrig in Weisenheim am Sand and the labels were clear that the Riesling was “Trocken” or dry and the Merlot is a Blanc (White) de Noir.

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We are both looking forward to tasting the Merlot. The Riesling we might save for a warm summer afternoon.

 

 

 

Alsatian wines are unique and some of “Bill’s favorites”. We visited the Wolfberger Winery in Eguisheim which has a beautiful tasting room, Sipp Mack in Hunawihr and a few others along the way. From Alsace we brought home a Riesling and several bottles of Gewürztraminer. The Gewürztraminer with a little creme d’ cassis makes a fabulous Kir, a popular aperitif at our house.

Incidentally, on the back label of the Alsatian wines, there is a chart which helps you identify the level of “vin sec”. Very helpful.

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The Burgundian wines, mainly chardonnay and Pinot Noir are typically sorted out by the area the grapes are sourced from. A single winery can produce Grand Cru, Premier Cru and a Village wine. We were able to taste all levels of wine on our visit to Imaginarium in Nuits-Saint-Georges, where they had a cruvinet that allowed us to taste some higher end wines.

 

It is possible to also look for opportunities in restaurants that might be serving some better wines by the glass. We like to confirm the bottles are stored correctly, optimally in a machine that will protect the open wine from oxidation. The O’Chateau wine bar in Paris offers a great selection of wines by the glass at all price levels and a knowledgeable server to explain the source and characteristics of the wine.

IMG_0158As far as what we like, our go to wine of choice is a Cotes du Rhone. It is reasonably priced and most of the time proves to be a good pairing to the food we enjoy. Our white wine selections are typically a higher priced variety and a special treat for us. Sancere is a particular favorite from the western part of the Loire Valley, primarily associated with Sauvignon blanc.

While considering your wine palate, think of your preferences of dry or sweet, red or white, grape variety and when you have the bottle in hand, be sure the read the label, front and back. There is always something to learn.

A couple of other beverages I also enjoyed along the way.

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The “Tango” or “Monaco” – Beer with a splash of grenadine or in this case a BIG beer. Some also have French Lemonade added to them.

 

 

 

 

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The Aperol Spritz – Aperol with prosecco or sparkling water and an orange slice. Yum!

 

 

 

 

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The very popular double espresso

 

 

 

 

And when you just are not sure of what you want, there is always this fall-back from home available down the street with free WIFI.

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Cheers!

Regensburg, Germany

This week we are visiting our friends Herbert and Christl in Regensburg. This is a city in south-east Germany, situated at the confluence of the Danube, Naab and Regen rivers. Regensburg is the fourth-largest city in the State of Bavaria and is one of Germany’s oldest towns, founded by the Romans in 179 A.D. Today Regensburg is a prosperous city of about 137,000 inhabitants, 3 universities and many landmarks …

We are fortunate to have a local friend give us a tour of the town followed by a boat ride on the Danube.

It’s Time to Check In

This is an email message like no other. It tells us that tomorrow will not be the same as today. There is traveling in our future. For me that is the message I woke up to today. My husband Bill and I are beginning a 28 day trip in Europe, tomorrow.

We will be flying to Munich, to meet our new German friends and staying at their home in Regensburg in Bavaria on the Danube. Then we plan to spend a few days in Alsace, Chamonix (French Alps), Burgundy and end our trip in Paris where we have rented an apartment with friends from home.

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I hope you find the posts from this trip interesting. Much of this trip is new territory for us and I look forward to the opportunity to share our experience. Usually after a trip, I plan to organize my pictures and share the story, which does not happen once back in the real world. My goal for the blog this month is to select some interesting destinations that I can share along the way and create memories for you and for me.

I am brand new to blogging. I find it an exciting undertaking. I welcome all and any comments and be sure to send me any recommendations you may have for sights along our intended course.