*WARNING, this post is far too long.*
Cognac is like a dream town. Everyone knows everyone – you see people greeting each other all the time in the street! They do the traditional ‘three kisses on the cheek’. It’s clean, the food is good, it’s always sunny, it’s a famous town and the countryside is stunning.
We travelled there yesterday afternoon by TGV, Train à Grande Vitesse, which was pretty fun because I had never been on one before. The train was empty when we boarded. I assumed that that was a rare occurence since Paris is always so busy. I took some photos with the awful lighting of Gare Montparnasse and then fell asleep for the rest of the journey, after some failed attempts at my English and AS Music homework.
My mum’s niece was also taking a break in Paris. She accompanied us to the station. So far, everyone in here dresses quite dark which I guess is just because they’re quite serious and business type. I even felt out of place wearing this simple stripey jumper; people were looking at me like I was a monkey.
In Paris they are very punctual with these trains. We arrived at the station, with enough spare time that would allow us to catch a train in Britain, but once we got to the Information desk they said we wouldn’t be able to make it. Mum and I didn’t understand so we ran to the platform (the station is HUGE) and saw that, people were running onto the train.
We were shocked! I ran back to get the rest of us and I was so angry with the staff for being so pessimistic – they delayed us – hence we missed the train. Then they said the next one would be in an hour and that I could change the tickets for €10 per person. That would mean we’d have to pay €30 for something we didn’t do. Infuriated, I decided to do the tickets myself, storming off. My mum told me to speak to them in a clever way, in order not to pay the fee.
On the way to the office all I could think about was what I was going to say. I would say that it wasn’t our fault, it was the staff’s. I would say we were new to this train system, we are tourists. I would say something in French. I would say that my Godfather is not able to walk at a fast pace. I was determined not to pay the stupid fee. It was a lady at the desk; I hope she would be more sympathetic than a man.
“Parlez-vous anglais?” – “Oui, un peu.”
“Uhh.. Je veux changer des billets.” – *smiles* – (a good sign!)
“…but it wasn’t our fault! We were here before it left!” – “I’ll have to check if there’s another…”
“Do we have to pay a fee?! It was your staff who stopped us!” – *silence*
“My Godfather is unwell, it’s just not fair!” – *A more sympathetic look*
“We are just tourists, we don’t know anything about this… Blablablablabla…” – *tickets printing…*
“Do I have to pay…?” – *smiles* “No.”
I DIDN’T HAVE TO PAY THE FEE! I felt like God, Jesus; a saviour to the people. Oh the power I have from speaking some French and just being a poor desperate young girl who shouldn’t have to pay a fee. I came back a hero and ate a muffin.
First photo in Cognac:
This was the sunrise the next morning – may I add that this photo is completely unedited?
A lovely house we passed by.
Evil squinty eyes return…
This photo was actually an accident. We stopped to take some photos and my mum got fussy about my shirt being lop-sided and I got all bothered about her fussyness. It’s a wierd angle but quite interesting.
Beautiful countryside. These are all grapes, I believe? They’re all harvested to make cognac.
Let’s look at some pretty flowers…
A small bunch… But what are they called? It remains a mystery…
After driving around a bit, we visited out friend’s home. It was built in the 1800’s and it is so adorable I want one myself. His wife is into gardening and landscape design, she’s a wonderful lady.
They travel a lot and she has a Moleskine watercolour paper notebook to do 5 minute sketches and entries. I fell in love.
I was not deep in my thoughts, I was listening to her tell me about it all.
This photo, with my Godfather’s hand and their cat, is definitely one of my favourites.
The cat is so lucky to live here.
We said goodbye and headed to town for lunch. I really like this photo… The two different hands!
(The following two images are un-edited)
The mystery is solved! We know the name of the flower.
We took a tour of the Hennessey Cognac company. It produces the majority of the drink in the whole market – 40%. The tour involved tiny boat trips.
Some of the barrels storing the Cognac were from the 1800’s.
Blending different cognacs together…
One of the priciest blends they have. €2040 per bottle. The top of the range is at €6000. The bigger the range of blends (how mature it is) the more money you have to spend.
I also bought a baguette for €0.85 – it was so yummy.
(The untucked shirt is a bit disgraceful.)
I felt like a God this evening too because I asked for directions in French.
“Il y a des restaurants chinois ou italien près d’ici?
The locals of Cognac even replied in French, which means they must have understood something I said! Then again I couldn’t understand half of their replies so I don’t really know if they understood me fully. We eventually didn’t eat in the single Chinese restaurant Cognac had to offer, because it was shut. But at least I found it.
I hope to have many more God-ly moments throughout my life. Thanks for reading! 😀