Burgundy (part 2: arrival)

I haven’t yet decided how I’ll split up my posts for this trip. With a month, the answer is, “many,” but I don’t have a number. I’ll likely break it up based on events or visitors rather than specific timeframes.

Thursday

In any case, we left Chicago on the 30th, our luggage and kittens in tow. We rarely check bags on a trip, but the Wine Checks, containing cat supplies, needed to be checked in. Thankfully, we arrived with enough time to complete that without any time issues. Unfortunately, one of our kittens was freaked out enough that we had to rush to the airport lounge and spend 20-30 minutes cleaning him up. I’ll admit I feared this would recur all the way to Berlin and then to Burgundy, but both kittens were champs in transit after that.

The flight to Berlin was completely uneventful. We put the kittens into one carrier so they could be together and stowed them under the seat in front of Virginia, while I stored the other carrier and small things. Neither of us slept much, but we had planned for that by having our hotel stay starting the 30th so we could check in before 8am. That was a great decision, as we fed the kittens and crashed for about four hours.

Friday

IMG_3354
Brandenburg Gate from the east side.

The day really started after we woke up and fed the cats again, giving them some time to acclimate. We took the train up to Potsdamer Platz and walked up to the Brandenburg Gate. Because of our choice of direction (south and west), we ended up wandering into a barely-started festival related to Euro 2016 and stopping for a snack (rostbratwurst for me, currywurst for Virginia). We then strolled around the other side past the Reichstag and getting near the Gate from the east side, stopping for espresso and people-watching.

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Win win, indeed.

Around 5:30pm, we took the train back to meet our friends Katrin and Cary for drinks and dinner. Katrin met us at the station and walked us back to their house, where we enjoyed a very nice Riesling and the perfect weather. We then headed for dinner, about 15 minutes away on foot. In addition to more Riesling, we had mushrooms and schnitzel (her), cold cucumber soup and a halibut-like fish (me). We stayed there talking about various things (oddly not much about Brexit) until around 10pm, at which point we declared ourselves ready to crash again. So we walked to the nearest train station and our trains arrived a minute later. Quick goodbyes and we’re back to the hotel to get a few hours’ sleep before our flight to Paris.

Saturday

Virginia made a number of good choices for our travel. First, she booked our flight from Berlin at 6:10am to get to Paris Orly airport by 8am. Second, she found a hotel 10 minutes’ drive away, with taxis at the ready. Third, she came up with the idea for two cars for the first week and helped me find a good deal on mine. Fourth, she determined it would be best for her to go on ahead to our home for July in Puligny-Montrachet with luggage and kittens while I detoured to Charles de Gaulle airport to pick up our friends and drive to Burgundy.

The results were pretty much what we wanted. We arrived at Orly on time and found our way to her car. She then dropped me back at Orly before making a beeline for Burgundy, arriving there before 1pm. I hung out at the airport for about 90 minutes, buying Nespresso capsules (by the way, about half the price as in the USA) and getting a petit dejeuner before picking up my car.

Driving up to CDG was fine. Getting to the correct place to pick up our friends was not fine. My first attempt got me to the departures area. Take two resulted in my parking the car and walking to where they were waiting for me. Then I had a couple of mistakes leaving the airport, requiring some circling around to get to the highway. I do not like CDG at all, even when I’m not flying to or from there.

Once we were out of the airport, the 4-hour drive was pleasant and easy. Everyone had been on an overnight flight so they all nodded off for at least a while. We made it to our rented home between 4pm and 5pm, where Virginia was waiting for us. We took a quick tour of the house, marveling at its size and details, and then separated to unpack and freshen up for dinner. (More on the house in the next post.)

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Exterior view of our house for July. It even has a wine cellar!

We all regrouped a little after 6pm and walked down to Caveau de Puligny-Montrachet for our first bottle of white Burgundy. For this trip, I’ve set out to change minds about the greatness of Chardonnay here, and this set the tone. A Jean Pascal & Fils Puligny-Montrachet 2014 won plenty of praise from our predominantly red wine drinkers. Puligny-Montrachet has probably the most elegant Chardonnays out there, well balanced between apple, pear, and apricot fruit and oaky spice flavors, and even the village cru wines have longer finishes than the norm.

Onward to Maison Olivier Leflaive for dinner. They offer a four-course meal with wine pairings, which we all thoroughly enjoyed for the wines’ variety and quality. We of course went for the gusto – nine wines. Plus Jeffrey and I added a tenth each: Corton-Charlemagne grand cru for him, Bâtard-Montrachet grand cru for me. It was also a great way to end the day; after dinner we were all ready to get some rest.

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