Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Well, it turns out that sleeping through church bells is harder when you haven't been up for 24+ hours. Last night's sleep was, shall we say, compromised by the incessant "tolling of the iron bell" (as Roger Waters once called it, and that is what they sound like), and so we didn't get up for the Monday market outside our front door particularly early.
But soon enough, we found our way the block and 1/2 down onto the main street, which was now filled with stalls and people, from one end to the other. We took one look at the chaos, and decided that we needed more coffee. But when we sat down, I noticed that the man next to us, middle-aged, good-looking-in-a-"I'm a typical french farmer"-way, had a glass of rosé and some pastis.
Now, I'm a big fan of pastis, and ouzo and all such anise-flavored liqueurs, a taste I acquired when I was a teen-ager in Greece, during the summer I turned 16. I spent a good portion of it working in a boatyard on the island of Syros, and everyday when we finished, the whole crew went to the bar for drinks and meze (snacks). I discovered that I had a huge tolerance for alcohol delivered in this form, which isn't actually great until you learn to handle it, which took a while. But once I did, it became my competitive drink of choice. Remember the scene at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Karen Allen is drinking with the Russian soldier, and drinks him under the table, only to get up and go back to work as if nothing happened? (I heart me some Karen Allen.) That's me. So, don't challenge me, OK? Or you'll be tasting black licorice in your sleep.
ANYWAY, I ordered a pastis, Joy got some coffee, and we watched the show for a while. Amazing what a little alcohol in the morning does to your disposition.
Eventually we went browsing through the stalls, admiring the cheeses, the cured meats, the handbags, the leather goods, the fresh vegetables, just an amazing amount of things to look at and touch and talk about. I keep trying to use the French I remember, and the stall owners are great about helping me out. It is a fact of French life, apparently, that everything comes with a lesson, an explanation or some conversation, and because I'm in the right frame of mind (i.e. not in a hurry), this seems wonderful.
We gather enough goodies for lunch, and head back to the apartment with some salami, some brie and banon cheeses, bread, ham, olives and wine, and just enjoy the shit out of it.
Lunch over, we head out to see what there is to see, and end up in a little town called Beaumes-de-Venice, which literally means "Canals of Venice". Except that here it doesn't, as Beaumes in Provence means "caves", like for storing wine, and "Venice" refers to the old name of Provence, Comtat Vennaissin, or the country of the Popes. Oh well, it's so pretty no matter what it's called, and we drive and stare.
We stop for a short wine tasting at a local vineyard, where Marina, the proprieteur, chats with us about our trip and her recent 6-week tour of the US. She's really fun, mid-30's and so excited about their wines; she and her husband have owned the vineyard for about 5 years, and are changing the way muscat (sweet) wines are made here, so that they have more acid, rather than the cloying sweetness that is usual for this type of wine. We buy a bottle, and head out, smiling.
A couple of hours driving later, we're back at the house, and take a break before dinner. It seems that that's all we do, isn't it? Eat and drive, eat and drive, and drink more wine.
Yep. That's why we're here.


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