Been back at work a couple of weeks now. As always, the holiday is a now distant memory but I have been going through photographs this evening, partly to see what is worth sharing or printing and partly to find an entry for the Challenge. Entries have to be with the organiser (me) by the end of tomorrow, so I have found the best of a bad bunch to include.
As you will have seen, the holiday was pretty busy – not relaxing at all, really. It’s rare to have a relaxing holiday since we always try to do too much. Far too much.
I have this thing about it probably being the last time I will ever pass that way again, so have to cram as much into the visit as possible. Alternatively, a thing about seeing as much as possible on a first visit to a place (particularly on foreign jaunts) so that on a return visit a more relaxing time can be had. Only, it never works out that way. We never go back – there is always somewhere else to see, where you haven’t been before – and the whole charade starts again. No half measures of just taking a part of a place in.
I’m not a very good tourist really.
So, on reflection, what were the highlights of this holiday?
It WAS nice to go back to Bordeaux and visit Leoville Barton again. Organising it for first thing on a Monday morning, when staying 60 odd miles away on the other side of the city was a huge schoolboy error, but we got there in time and had a fantastic tour courtesy of the charming Alexandra. Our timing couldn’t have been better – the first grapes had been brought in from the vines on the Saturday and we were the first people to taste the grape juice from 2014, just starting its fermentation in the oak vessels. What a privilege.
A couple of days later, while having a tour of the Chateau where we were staying (Chateau de Mole), I asked the owner about Petrus, the world’s “best” red wine. It’s only about 10 miles away from there. Apparently, until fairly recently, the property at Petrus was little more than an old farmhouse and some outbuildings. Only in the last few years has the owner built a “chateau” of any size or quality. It’s a bit of a shame, really.
As with many luxury goods, it’s the handmade and traditional methods that cost the money. Doing it properly all through the process. Plus the rarity, small production and quality of the vines and terroir of course. It’s a bit like paying £160k for a Ferrari 458, when a Jaguar for £100k will go just as fast, be as exciting to drive and so on. But what it won’t have is a handmade body or engine. It’s a bit like buying a Leica…
Moving away from Bordeaux and the region, after making a mistake with a hotel in Ambialet, we came across the bridge. The Millau Viaduct.
An earlier post on that day actually has some of the better photographs of it, taken with the iPhone, but I still cannot get over how amazing coming across it through the fog was. A sight never to be forgotten.
Skipping past several days, I just need to write about Monaco / Monte Carlo.
What a weird place. I described driving into the principality from the autoroute as feeling like walking into a Bond Street jewellers. They know you can’t afford anything there; you know you can’t afford anything there. But they still let you in, just to have a look around, and it’s fine so long as you know your place, and leave.
We found that Monte Carlo had policemen on every other corner. Apparently, they have monitored CCTV on every street and microphones in every lift. No local police (all brought in from France) and the locals are not allowed in the casinos.
Walking the grand prix circuit was interesting and makes you appreciate the skill and sheer lunacy of the drivers.
Cannes was nice and we had a very good lunch with an old friend who lives there and Nice the next day was the sort of city that you could live in. If you were lucky enough to have to live on the south coast of France. A really brilliant market.
And to wrap the fortnight off, a trip to Istanbul.
We met some really nice people, in the hotel, restaurants and new friends at the Challenge.
People rave about the city and it does have some stunning architecture. But I never felt comfortable there, particularly outside of the tourist areas. The streets were absolutely packed with people. It was claustrophobic, especially around the spice market and the streets leading back up the hill.
Still, if you want to see the Blue Mosque, or the Aya Sophya, you have to go there. I’m not sure about this chandelier though…
This is a failing on my part and one that I freely acknowledge. My lack of engagement with the city will be reflected in the Challenge entry and without a doubt, the scoring.
I’m not a very good tourist really.
Oh, and Asda cocked up the processing of my films…