This Gratitude Friday goes out to UNESCO. I actually had no clue what UNESCO was before we moved to Geneva. However, because of the sheer volume of places in Europe, it became something of note during our travels. UNESCO helps identify and protect the places in the world that are most important to humans, both culturally and naturally. There are currently 962 places in the world on the list. Roughly 80% are cultural while 20% are natural.
How wonderful that there is an organization which makes it their mission to preserve and recognize these sites? While sites like the Notre Dame in Paris might not have trouble gaining support, think about those in underdeveloped countries like Angkor Wat in Cambodia that can now have the financial and administrative resources to preserve and protect these special sites for the world to appreciate?
And also, I wanted to express our thankfulness for being able to visit over 30 new UNESCO sites during our time as ex-pats. This is something that neither one of us thought we would do in a 1.5 year span. While our travels will be slowing down with our move back to the US, I wanted to find a way to archive the sites that we had been to, both before this experience, and then after.
So, I have created a page in the main menu of the blog listing Our UNESCO Tracker. I’ll keep this up in the future as well.
Bon weekend, everyone!
Drinking in public isn’t a big deal in Europe. We are constantly reminded of this with our guests. We bring along a bottle of wine to a picnic or on a train and they ask us, “you can’t actually drink that here, can you?”. The answer is yes. Europeans are far more lax about things like this. As a result, there are actually far less drunk people because it isn’t so taboo. In fact, the Swiss can start drinking wine and beer at 16. It’s 18 for hard liquor. And, we have never seen drunk teens.
Here are a few photographic reasons to further demonstrate the point:
Recently, in Italy, we had a glass of champagne at a risotto fair. They gave us cloth glass holders to string around our neck so that we could take it “to go”. This has become my favorite new accessory.
They put reminders up about the legal drinking age:
However, some don’t pay attention.
Sorry little guy. You have to wait a few years.
And, those ‘on duty’ don’t mind enjoying a cold one.
People drink in random places. It is most common on the bus to see a guy in a suit enjoying a beer on his way home from work. I prefer this photo of a lady in her 70’s opening up her bottle she purchased grocery shopping and drinking it out of the bottle at the bus stop. There is no time like the present.
Here’s hoping that this New Years Day, you didn’t have too much to drink!
As I mentioned last week, if we are on a road trip, we love to discover interesting places to stop on the way home.
As we left Champagne around 11am, our lunchtime fell in the town of Troyes, France. We parked and while exploring a place to grab some food, soon designated this as the most crooked town we’d ever seen. No, not because of any shady deals that took place. Literally, the architecture:
Lonely Planet highlighted an alley way called the “tiny street of the cats”, and it was crooked as well.
Even me, who hangs up the most crooked of photos and pictures and can’t draw a straight line to save my life found it uncomfortable!
While you might not be able to live this way permanently, Troyes was still pretty cute.
By the way, in French, Troyes isn’t pronounced Troys or Troy but Twaaaah. Before I mastered this knowledge, the French would have considered my speech a little crooked as well!
“Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!”
Alleged quote by Dom Pérignon, instrumental wine maker of from Abbey St. Vanne, later found to be created by the ad industry
Did you even know Dom Pérignon was a 17th Century monk? I sure didn’t know this before we visited the infamous wine region in France. Below we have 12 other lessons learned on our tour:
Champagne Lesson #1 – Champagne can only come from Champagne, France. All other must be called sparkling wine. There are strict regulations around production and the wine cops come do checks to ensure the product is 100% Champagne AOC. This, however, is not an indication of quality.
Champagne Lesson #2 – The land in the Champagne region has a chalk base, much like England’s White Cliffs of Dover. The chalk not only retains heat but moisture. We’ve seen similar theories of superior wine due to the unique ground: Switzerland Lavaux has the terraced walls that use the sun off Lake Geneva to heat the soil, as well as Chateauneuf-du-Pape claims its rocky basin of the former Rhône river.
Champagne Lesson # 3 – Champagne is just as confusing with designations as many other French wines are: Grand Cru, Premier Cru, and village level. Again, this isn’t a guarantee of quality, just the designation of the land is supposed to be higher in Grand Cru.