Τρίτη, 30 Σεπτεμβρίου 2014

la Trieve a wonderful place in the mountains

There is one part of the trip I have not talked about yet. And this is La Trieve. It's a place south of Grenoble where there are mountains and glaciers.






It's a place of unbelievable beauty, where every corner is a surprise. You can hike or you can drive and you see alpine lakes and rivers, mountains and more mountain tops!


But it's not just the place... It's the people too...





First time I went there with Clio the weekend before the grape picking. Second time was last weekend.

First time we met Helene and her beautiful family. They live in a wooden house in the Alps. Two wonderful children and her husband. Smiles and hugs and love.

And then there is Marine. We stayed at her little lovely house and her two cats! Her family lives near by, her mom and dad. Marine was at Clio's birthday. Big bright green eyes full of warmth. She did not speak English but somehow we managed to communicate.

That weekend, Clio and Marine went horse riding and I went hiking. Me, myself and nature. Trees, birds, wild vegetation... The track was really well signed and easy to walk. In the winter it snows up there but this time of the year, it's warm and green.

The second time we had another Marine with us. Four girls and a dog. This past Sunday was so full I'll try to remember it all hour by hour because it is really worth it....


We woke up early and went to help Marine's father with his eggs. We saw the whole process and it was great fun! And then it was time for a ride on the tractor! Clio rode and I went on a ride. Unbelievable speed - 2 km per hour - he he...

Off to an open market for food and then a lovely picnic besides an alpine lake.





Lak (lake in french) du Sautet is the name. A lake's energy is different than that of a river. There is not the sound of running water and the waves are small and quick if I must describe them. It was nice and sunny so we spent some hours next to it.

I kept seeing faces on the rocks and in the trees. A midget, a strange creature made out of rock, a face in the tree... Clio said I see god everywhere. But it's not god. Its the creatures that lie beyond. Its the spirits of rocks and trees. It's the spirits of the mountain. It's the faces that people use to make fairytales. They have done for centuries.

It was time to go, my camera had run out of battery. All my senses had to be alert for the next place. The fountain of Les Guillardes. A mysterious place on the mountain where water comes out of the rocks. I took my shoes off and climbed on the rocks barefoot. Put my feet in the crystal water. Freezing cold just for a few seconds... Instant cleansing for the feet, the soul, the heart....

No wonder the people here have big smiles and big eyes... The mountain's energy is so strong... Off to Helene's place again... She is so warm, her sence hospitality is incredible... Her husband Jose has a big smile and he is paragliding every weekend with his warm friend Keke... Jose is on a wheelchair but that does not stop him from enjoying his life and his family. I am so proud and honoured to have met those people who will stay in my heart always... Both Marine and Helene are beautiful souls and I owe them the best times I had in France...

I do hope they both come to Greece so I can offer them back their love and hospitality...

Πέμπτη, 25 Σεπτεμβρίου 2014

Annecy. A lake, a festival and a fairytale city...

I do owe a huge thank you to Clio. Her house in Lyon has been my base. It is wonderful to travel around in a foreign country and be able to just turn up. The door was always open - for me, not in general he he...

A couple of days in her couch and I was ready to go out and about again.





Last night I decided to go to one of the couch surfing international meetings. These nights are for people to meet and drink and socialise... Pretty cool... I forgot my camera and I thought it was nice to get out of this photoghraphy mentality. No pictures... Just for a little while...



And then.... it was salsa night! Intimidated at first I tried to find the club which was in the middle of nowhere... I went in, found my friends, started dancing! I was amazed by the fact that men where coming up to you to dance.

REWIND. Before I came to France, I went to a bachelor party in a salsa/Latin/mambo club in Athens. No one and I mean no men came up to us. These dances need a male and a female right?? Right. Well in France it happens. Men are not scared to dance. Period!



Next day I was car pooling to Annecy, a small town next to the lake near Geneva. Again a big thanks to Clio who arranged it... I was so scared I would not find a bed in Annecy... I was trying to
Couchsurf but with no avail. I was going to pay for a bed... Finally, last night I got a message that a friend of a friend ooh friend has a couch!! Yeah!

Indeed the universe was nice to me. The carpooling guy brought me to this girls door and she is so nice! And she works for the film festival! Every June here in Annecy there is an international animation film festival! I love animated films!!

The city is beautiful and the water of the lake is crystal clear. No offence, but because I'm Greek, lakes give me the chills especially if I can't see the bottom, green and slimy, yaiks! This lake is fine.

Old buildings, small rivers, beautiful bridges... It's like a fairytale!

Τρίτη, 23 Σεπτεμβρίου 2014

In the land of Dionysus. Beaujolais...

Back to Lyon... I am still tired so I'll just try to give an overall account of what grape picking felt like.... The first days where exhausting.



The vines where very small and we had to bend all day long to reach and cut them. The muscles in my back were very weak so they suffered.



I had an internal nagging which I was trying to stop. I told myself I should enjoy the moments and not complain.





The food was... More than enough! Breakfast with fresh bread and homemade jam and coffee. 9.30 food on the field, bread and different kinds of salami and a glass of rose wine. 12.00 lunch. Salad, main meal, dessert, cheese, coffee. Oh and more wine! 7.00 dinner. Soup, main course, dessert, cheese, coffee. Oh and yes more wine! The food needed more salt and pepper, but it was good. Really good. I do admit that Jim's food in Italy was much better....

Last but not least the people. Beautiful, adventurous, strong, smiling.... Especially the ladies were the bravest ladies I met! If it weren't for them the experience would not be the same..


I am so thankful I decided to have this experience...

In the end they threw us in a truck full of grapes and we had grape juice everywhere! Laughing like crazy till our bellies ached, eyes shining... Us and God Dionysus. It was a feelinf beyond words, a very ancient feeling...

This is life, this is freedom, this is absolute happiness. I forgot all about my pain and aching back! And then they were waiting with the buckets! All wet, laughing under the sun. It was over. I could not believe it...


And then it was dinner time... Wine tasting, nice food, smiles and beauty everywhere. Everybody had a shine on them, they were polished by nature, working under the sun...







In the end, I felt full. Alive. Rich. Able. Loved. All this and more that words cannot describe.

P.S. Νow I have to choose from 1200 photos that everyone took. Good luck. If you see a picture you took,please let me know so I can quote you! Merci!

Παρασκευή, 19 Σεπτεμβρίου 2014

Τετάρτη, 17 Σεπτεμβρίου 2014

the vandange aka the grape picking in france

6.30 in the morning

I have one thing to say. The vandange aka the grape picking is very tiring. I simply cannot feel some of my muscles. So. I will upload some pictures and hope you like them.

Let's go pick some grapes!








Brunch on the field...








70 kilos of grapes ready to go







Πέμπτη, 11 Σεπτεμβρίου 2014

Tourist, not friend!

After my day's rest, it was time for me to play tourist...

I could walk around and see some sites. My first instinct was to get out of the house and go right. I walked and walked and walked and saw everybody doing their morning chores, pretty ladies on bicycles, students going to the university, bakers baking, you name it.

I was constantly smiling and people were telling me bonjour and exuses moi... You have to love the French and their manners. I thought they would be rude, but they are absolutely adorable so far. When I was in Paris people were rude, but this is the south. It's warmer in the hearts and weather.

I saw beautiful doors, churches and old buildings... Until I reached this beautiful little pedestrian bridge... It was a bit intimidating because it was moving, but I quickly went on the other side safely... These little locks are on every bridge, a funny declaration of love for couples. I knew about it, but now I am seeing it everywhere!

My plan was to go up to the Notre Dame des Fourieres, the big cathedral on the hill. I had to find the funicular.

Instead, I wondered around the old city until I reached the cathedral of saint John the baptist.

Nice Gothic style, made to intimidate the small, insignificant and sinful crowds, as all churches did. Weird and scary creatures hanging above heads... Anyway, enough of my antichristian nagging.

What was mostly striking and beautiful were these little old shops and galleries in the city.

Little details like this wooden bicycle or the sign in the shape of a horse...












To be continued...

Τετάρτη, 10 Σεπτεμβρίου 2014

The end.

I have to declare: when I leave this country I'll be fat. All these special cheeses, all these special sausages...

Last Sunday was the last day on the mountain. Everyone was happy and tired...

Monday was a day of rest. We talked about the weekend and stuck in bed all day long...

Tuesday would be the day of tourism...

Τρίτη, 9 Σεπτεμβρίου 2014

One more party. Scottish...

There is something I'd like to say. It's so nice to be writing on my blog again... It is my baby and I have left it without any juice for too long. On the other hand, I am either too busy to write when I am back home, or I am out of subjects. Anyway. Welcome back readers!

Where was I?

I was going to THE PARTY.

Friday's crowd was there but it was much bigger because family friends were added. A total of 120 people. It was like going to a wedding. But it was only Clio's 25 th birthday!

Beer and wine was flowing and a wonderful Scottish band was playing live. Alasdair, the band's leader, would teach us some Scottish dances! He told us in French "nes danses pas - nes manages pas".  (Excuse my bad grammar and spelling...)

Everyone wanted to eat so everyone was up for the first dance! Him and his wonderful fairy-like wife led us to a dance which was slow at first and then went into a frenzy...The band was full with fiddles and violins... They were absolutely brilliant! The crowd was dancing and so was I.... Till I was out of breath!

After a few dances and a lot of beer it was time to eat. A lady played the Scottish pipe and Clio's father went around presenting the haggis. It came complete with a glass of fine Scottish whisky. I don't like whisky but I surely drank that one and I must say I really enjoyed it!

The party was great and I went to bed at 4 in the morning... It was cold and humid up there on the Alps, so I wore as many clothes as I could and curled up in my sleeping bag...

Δευτέρα, 8 Σεπτεμβρίου 2014

camping in the french Alps

Friday's fire was put out.

We awoke on the mountain, yet another sunny hot day of smiley, happy faces... Somehow the tables were clean - some elder people were cooking for tonight's party - Coffee, croissants, breakfast, gifts to our birthday girl... By now all the faces became familiar and you said bonjour to everyone.

Clio's family is Scottish on her father's side so many nice Scottish people arrived for the day.

I decided to go on a small walk since the day was so warm and nice.

Lunch, more gifts....

That night we would leave the big house to make room for the elder. We would sleep in tents and sleeping bags in the camping site of Autrans. I had been complaining that I haven't been camping for a long 2 years... Here I was, putting up a tent in the Alps!!! I was so excited! There were at least 10 tents on the grass.

Before we got ready for the big Scottish party, we went to help with the breakfast scones, a typical British cake and oatcakes, a typical Scottish treat. Everything tasted and felt so nice! I was overwhelmed by emotions, trying to soak everything and not forget!

Went back to the camping site to get ready... I almost cried with joy when I heard a Scottish fiddle somewhere in the distance. Call me crazy, but I get really emotional with all things Scottish and Irish. It's like home to me. There is a deep appreciation in my soul and it might go back many lifetimes....

Everyone was beautiful, in their party clothes. Some of the men even wore their Scottish skirts...

To be continued....