or, Kallisti Fest 2007
“I’m sorry I caused all that absinthe.” —Kallisti
Click here to skip to the flickr album! 204 pix and counting
Since I started the absinthe website, now FeeVerte.net, friends from the forum there have been poking me to join in the fun at the annual Boveresse Absinthe Festival, or at least to visit and see the absinthe and related sights. I’d refused up until now. I’m a total scaredy cat when it comes to flying.
2007 is the ten year anniversary of the Fee Verte website and forum. Ten years! I made a new header banner to celebrate! Oxygenee, who has since taken over the site (though I still help), finally convinced me that now was the time. They’d hold a fund raiser to help with tickets etc and arrange a special fun absinthey activities. How could I refuse!?!?!
KallistiFest 2007 was born.
Day One-ish: San Francisco — London, June 6-7th, 2007
We flew into London on a red-eye, arriving June 7th, via Virgin Atlantic.
I’d heard great things about Virgin, that they are kind to nervous nellies such as myself etc. The fact that they had the least expensive (yet still astronomical) non-stop London flights helped too.
I hadn’t flown in, erm, fourteen years or so. And that was a one hour flight to Las Vegas (yes, Liz, that trip to Vegas!). I’m a truly miserable flyer. I hyperventilate and turn blue. Magical suspension thousands of feet in the air makes me think bad thoughts. I’ve been land-bound ever since.
Doctor provided a huuuuge scrip of xanax, I took the plunge. A few hours before the flight I started dosing. And would top up with a tablet every 1.5 hours or so. Doc said I could take up to four at once o_0 so I figured all was safe, and it was better to dose incrementally. Between that and the multimedia wonderland that is Virgin Atlantic, I was pretty darned relaxed. Mr. Kallisti was Mr. Kalm, and was no doubt very relieved that I failed to get hysteric mid-flight. By the time they served dinner (I can’t remember what it was, but it didn’t suck) we were passing the Rockies and hit the predictable turbulance. I was sedated, but alert, and remember having fun and giggling through the bumpy bits as we held our drinks down to the tray. We watched “Perfume” in tandem. But I fell asleep half way through. Poopy.
Since we were flying towards the sunrise, we only got about two hours of night after dinner, at which time they turned on all the lights and served us breakfast.
We landed in London 10am on June 7th, and took the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station. Our wee hotel was just around the corner on Norfolk Square. We had a nice little room under the stairs on the ground floor. The bathroom was small, but not as small as they were to get later in the trip! We slept, and woke with hunger pangs. The neighborhood was just urban enough to have pubs and chip shops on every corner so we scooted out to get some fish ‘n’ chips to bring back to the room. First stop: Micky’s! We got one of everything. It was all very good, and surely took five years off of our already precarious existance. We had to pop out to the Mini Tesco’s down the street for some air freshener to de-fish the tiny room and nabbed some scotch eggs for desert. :p
Lots of horrible British Television before sleep. Embarrassing Illnesses is definately a winner.
Day Two: London — Paris, June 8th, 2007
We met up with Oxy (Oxygenee.com), the fancy gent to whom I passed the keys of FeeVerte.net a couple years ago, at Waterloo Station to catch the London-Paris Eurostar Train. 2+ hours on the train we spent very pleasantly catching up. First class serves a very tastey little lunch. Oxy personally spearheaded the campaign to get us to Boveresse. It is always so strange to finally meet a person IRL that you’ve known online and on the phone for years. You slip very comfortably into a cozy proximity, as if you’ve been doing this for years.
Arriving in Paris, we switched to the Metro, and zoomed out to Montmartre to check into our hotel and meet Peter who lived just up the street. Due to last minute arrangements, we ended up at the Hotel Doree, a perfectly respectable, but exceedingly infested hotel. The price was certainly good, and the location could hardly be beat. But… that’s about all of the Doree’s advantages. None the less, all I could think for the next twenty four hours was “I’m in fucking Paris!” Which would then make me giggle.
We were treated to a lovely dinner at Peter’s with his family, whom I was really excited to meet. Especially leetle Chloé Kallisté, who is just four, exceedingly precocious, and my namesake ^_^ She had fun making Mr. K. draw pictures for her for most of the evenings, especially princesses, bats, and pigs. Steve (from SF) was there when we arrived. Peter showed us his gorgeous flat. All 19th century Parisian wonderfulness of it. It reminded me of the period flats in San Francisco us normal people used to be able to afford *tear*. All french doors, high ceilings and enamel tiled fireplaces.
We drank lots and ate gorgeous greek food, and horsemeat salami. Yum.
Day Three: Paris, June 9th, 2007
One of our two full days in Paris. Due to jetlag, Mr. K and I woke up pretty early. At 7am we decided to have a look around the neighborhood. Our french is non-existant, so I tried my hand at ordered a quiche at a patisserie up the road. “Bonjour Madame/Monsieur,” *point* “Merci,” and “Au Revoir” was pretty much our repertoire for the entire trip. In Paris, most everyone spoke english, and like an indulgent parent, they would look at us like retarded children complete the transaction with all the haste necessary. Luckily we were traveling with a band of fluent expats, competent frequent visitors, and native speakers, so we were rarely SOL.
When we did meet up with David & Steve later that morning, first we went to one of the flea markets (fantastic!) and then they took us down to zee Ile de Cité and the Left Bank for walkies. We had lunch at a little Italian joint in the Latin Quarter, left David to go back to his laptop to make a living, and Steve escorted us to Notre Dame and beyond. Notre Dame: you really have no idea how huge this place is until you’re staring up at the immense ceiling. It was truly beyond imagining.
Later that night the group reformed for din-din at a ducky restaurant that I don’t recall the name of. Something “du Canard” I’m sure. I tried foie gras for the first time (I figgered this was the place to do it) and we drank a lot. My red meat item was overcooked to the point of being charred. Apparently this is common thing to do to Americans, who are known to order everything well-done and cry when meat is too bloody. Goddamint, we ordered it rare, for real. And I still got a lumpy piece of charcoal. Meh.
The restaurant was next to this place:
Edgar High! I snapped a pic for Bat.
Day Four: Paris — Saumur, June 10th, 2007
Next morning David, Peter, Steve, Mr. K & I caught the TGV bullet train to the Loire Valley and the sleepy town of Saumur. Home of the Combier Distillerie and a really neat Chateau on the mount above the city. We checked into the Hotel St. Pierre, their usual digs, and were delightfully delighted at the accomodations. Gorgeous rooms, baths, stone spiral stair, little alley beside a gothic church, right at the foot of the Chateau. Aieeeeeeee! Only one night here? I could die. Also to know that we were only minutes from Fontrevault Abbey and I wouldn’t have the time to go.
We visited Ted at the Combier Distillerie, which was gorgeous and smelled really good. The Distillery, not Ted :p
Ok, Ted smelled good too. Here’s his butt.
The purple scaffolding was original Eiffel, they told us. There were numerous large copper alembics, most of them used for Combier’s triple sec and the like. But what brought Ted here originally were the two large copper stills that were originally owned by the Pernod Fils distillery and used to make absinthe back in the day. Class!
We then learned a new word: Choucroutes! Which apparently means “random yummy meat on saurkraut” … I think it was a Belgian thing? We were at a Belgian cafe. We then went and drank at the square nearest our leetle hotel. My favorite pic happened when I wasn’t there, the pre-hump photo of spoony and the french bulldog! So much love! His pictures are better than mine anyway, so go look.