It was 30 years ago today that Bill and I met for the first time. I had flown down from Chicago to Dallas to help a friend staff his booth at a street fair. Bill, who lived in Dallas, had walked over to check out all of the festivities and to see someone who had a booth there. No surprises here; we had a mutual friend without knowing it and, if you’ve been reading this blog, you can probably guess what product he was selling—travel. Our world adventures started from day one.
We like planning vacations ahead of time, often a year or so if long flights are involved. Almost 2 years ago it occurred to me that in 2016 we’d have a big anniversary calling for some significant celebration. One of our first trips together was a cruise so we thought about a trans-Atlantic crossing or sailing to Hawaii, around the Mediterranean, or a friends-and-family reunion at sea. The next thing that popped to mind was to rent a huge French chateâu in the countryside and throw a big multi-day party. Our European friends could come and spend a night or two while those having to cross the Atlantic and/or Pacific oceans might want a full week of wining, dining, and relaxing.
Then reality set in. If you could put aside the price (!) for the moment, just trying to coordinate everyone’s arrival and departure far from a major city plus arranging for food and drink for everyone seemed to be a huge challenge. So how about if we did sort of the opposite? Instead of getting everyone to come to us, why not go to them, one by one? It would be a great way to see friends but the idea of a party is to get everyone together. Time for a complete change.
We both love Germany so we talked about going there for Christmas to enjoy the Christkindlmarkt (Christmas markets) that started in the Middle Ages, where, from inside timber sheds, vendors sell all sorts of merchandise appropriate to the season. Probably the most popular item sold on cold winter evenings is gluhwein, a hot mulled red wine that warms you down to your toes. But if you’re flying all the way from Atlanta to Germany, you might as well visit France since they are so close to each other.
That lead us to thoughts of a vacation based in France with a side trip to Germany. But what if we actually lived in France? Then we wouldn’t have to fly back and forth and once we saw the videos of the Christmas market in Carcassonne it seemed we wouldn’t even have to travel from here. Problem solved!
So, what kind of celebration do we have planned for today? We already had our grand meals a couple of weeks ago at two of the Michelin-starred restaurants in Carcassonne. Having made the big move to France only 3 months ago, we’re going to stick around town. After all, we do live immediately between two UNESCO World Heritage sites so walking along the Canal-du-Midi and through the medieval Cité will figure prominently in today’s activities.
To end our day we’ll be attending the start of two others together. Jessie and April have invited us to attend their riverside wedding with the promise of lots of sparkling local wine and this area’s signature dish, cassoulet. By special request Bill will be making a cheesecake to add just a touch of America to this French celebration.