Thursday, June 21, 2012

The City of Lights and the Emerald Isle!

Photo by Maggie Bohn 

Hey friends - I'm back!
I am ashamed to say I abandoned my post for a few weeks. The my internet connection was rather dodgy in both Paris and Ireland, so I never got around to posting. Then I got back and settled into a state of Battlestar Galactica-fueled lethargy until, well, yesterday I suppose (fun fact - they drink a lot of tea on that show!). Anyway, I hope you can all forgive me for my laziness! Now, to recount my European adventures:

Paris was, of course, beautiful. We had three busy days full of sightseeing, family time, and wedding stuff, and not much time for tea. We stayed at Le Grand Hôtel des Balcons, a beautiful hotel in the Latin Quarter, owned by family friends. The rehearsal dinner took place at Le Train Bleu, an ornately decorated restaurant in the Gare de Lyon, a famous train station in the heart of Paris. The ceremony itself was in L'Église de la Madeleine, a church originally built as a temple for Napoleon's glory. It was such a big deal that there were tourists in there during the ceremony, watching my cousin Erin and her husband Lee exchange their vows! After the ceremony all the guests were given a private bus tour of the city, and then we went to Hôtel de Crillon for the reception. That place is chock-full of history. Benjamin Franklin signed an agreement with the French there recognizing the Declaration of Independence. The cocktail hour took place in the salon where Marie Antoinette supposedly had her music lessons. Overall, a pretty over-the-top experience. I recommend Googling some pictures of those places. They were all amazing!

I mostly stuck to coffee while in Paris, to fight the jet lag. But I got a couple opportunities to enjoy some tea in the short time we were there. One morning, my family climbed the steep hill of Montmartre to see Sacré Ceour, one of the most beautiful churches in the world. When some of us went inside, we were promptly asked to leave - My sister Erin and I for our bare shoulders, my brother Drew and his wife Ann for showing their knees. Outside, we found my mom and other sisters, Maggie and Claire, who were all dressed appropriately. They went inside and the rest of us headed to a nearby café, where I ordered a cup of tea. It wasn't anything special, just some Assam black. And it cost me €5 - that's close to $7! I was a bit disappointed, but it was worth the experience. Ann took a picture of me, which I'll be adding to this post asap. 

On my last morning in Paris, I undertook a walking tour which one of my wonderful professors wrote. He gave me a copy of his as-yet unpublished manuscript, which visits some of the favorite haunts of the Lost Generation of American writers in Paris. I didn't have time to finish it, but I did have a lovely cup of Darjeeling tea at the Café du Dôme (now simply, "Le Dôme"), which in the 20s was a hub of American literary hobnobbing. Here's a picture of my table. This was the most peaceful part of my stay in Paris:
Later that day, we flew Aer Lingus into Dublin, and then drove three hours to the splendid little town of Kinsale, Ireland. On our first walk into the town, I spotted the Perryville Tea Room, and I instantly knew I'd be spending a lot of time there. Maggie and I went in the next morning, and quickly dubbed it our "Happy Place." The front of the store is a shabby chic gift shop, and the tea room in back is quiet, calm, and full of soft greys and blues - the perfect escape from a little too much family bonding time. We ended up going there four times in the five days we stayed in Kinsale, and we ordered the same thing every time: Perryville Breakfast Blend black tea, and a slice of coffee cake to share. We brought Claire along twice, but we made her promise to honor the rules of our Happy Place: speak quietly and take your time with the cake - we want to stretch this out as long as possible! Here are some pictures: 

Sorry for the cruddy quality - I'm not a very good photog!
The glaze-like icing on that coffee cake was delicious.

Just enjoying a cuppa.
It was at this tea room that Maggie and I discovered how scrumptious it is to put milk and sugar in our tea. I've been doing it a lot since I got back. It makes tea feel like dessert - dessert you can have with breakfast!

On our last visit, I discovered that the Perryville tea room also has an apiary, and sells Parryville honey! I bought a jar and brought it home. I'm saving it for when I get back to school - something to sweeten the start of my senior year!

I had tea at every café we went to, and even at a couple of pubs throughout the rest of our stay. Cream and sugar are brought out with it, just like with coffee. Long story short, Ireland trumps France when it comes to tea. At least in my experience. But of course, this trip wasn't about tea. It was a chance to see some of the most beautiful places in the world, and to connect with people - family and friends, old and new. The tea just made it better!

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