Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, there was a beautiful princess. She had a beautiful big house surrounded by beautiful landscapes. She didn’t have to work, she didn’t have to worry about anything, and she was never sad or angry. She was eating only natural food, always beautifully served. She could spend her days in the massive garden, lying down on the beautifully green grass, talking to animals and flowers and enjoying the beauty of the world. Her life was magical. She was the happiest princess in the whole universe and she thought she could never be happier, until one day someone opened the door to her beautiful kingdom. It was a prince on a beautiful white horse. He was the most beautiful man she has ever seen. They fell in love and lived happily ever after…
This is what I used to dream about when sitting absolutely exhausted at work, after hours, and dreaming about coming back to my house… a 30m2 flat in a block in Warsaw with a view on a huge garbage container. I didn’t have time to relax in the garden not only because there was no garden, I just had no time to relax. Fortunately, I didn’t have to eat junk food as I had no time to eat at all… I would probably not notice the prince on my doorstep either because I used to spend so much time at work that my brain has learned to switch to a ‘shower and bed’ mode. I didn’t feel lonely, though; I had no time to wonder about loneliness.
The only thing I could think about was wine. Seriously.
I was absolutely passionate about wine, sitting the WSET courses, meeting other wine lovers to taste wine together, reading books, watching documentaries and wine films.
But at that time, I had never seen a real vineyard in my life…
I remember myself crying sometimes when no one was looking because I wanted to see a vineyard so much, but I had no possibility to do so. ‘One day Ela, one day’- I used to say to myself.
I was waiting, impatiently, for the ‘One Day’…
One day that happened to me
It was beginning of August 2012 when I got the message from the boss from the UK: she wanted us (me and my colleague, who was at the time the finance director at my company) to go to Bordeaux to visit vineyards and find out more about wine from the region. I almost had a heart attack when I read her message.
Me? To Bordeaux? THAT Bordeaux? Really? Wait, but seriously? You sure?
My ‘one-day’ dream became my ‘next month’ reality.
I don’t remember the time between the day I got the message and the day before my first trip to France.
On 26th of September 2012, my bags had been packed and I was drinking herbal tea with my lovely neighbours. I still couldn’t believe I was about to take off a plane to Bordeaux. Of course, I couldn’t sleep the whole night and with the sunrise, I was ready to take a taxi to the airport.
The trip was lovely, although my first plane was late and I almost missed the other one. Moreover, they lost my luggage in Paris. I had only my handbag with documents and my camera and a small bag with some clothes that I took ‘just in case I need to change’.
I didn’t care about the suitcase; I didn’t care about the toothbrush. I even didn’t care about the storm, which made that flight one of the worst on-air-experiences in my life.
Naked or with tonnes of clothes on me, dry or wet, I was in Bordeaux and nothing else mattered.
The Day I fall in love
The next morning, it was Friday 28th, we left the hotel near Saint Emilion and went to Saint Colombe to visit some vineyards and wineries.
It was the first time I’ve seen the real vines in my life, the first time I could touch them and smell the aroma of the grapes. It was the first time I really felt like this is a place where I belong.
I have never had this feeling in my life before.
I was in love!
I called my mom; I remember telling her that I’m in love and that it was more than I could ever dream of, that place felt like home, that I knew I will move here one day and I will find a husband and my children will be growing up in this area… one day.
I still can feel it… that extraordinary feeling when I saw the vineyards bathed in the French sun for the first time in my life…
I remember feeling good among vines, I remember loving the aroma of grapes and I still remember the flavours of the wines I tasted there.
I think I will take these memories with me when crossing the border between life and death… One day.
The rest of the day
The rest of the day was very intense as we have been visiting literally everything around… the town of Saint Emilion, a few vineyards, and a few wineries around Saint Emilion.
It was the first time in my life when I’ve seen Cheval Blanc and Chateau Petrus. I even took my own pictures of these chateaux. It was very special for me. MY OWN pictures!
I remember the taste of real French macaroons at the restaurant in Saint Genes where we had our lunch. One may say I had too many of them, but I simply couldn’t stop eating. They were absolutely delicious!
I remember the structure of the limestone walls in Saint Emilion. I was touching the buildings while visiting the town, I even picked up some of the stones and hid them in my purse. They were my Saint Emilion limestone tiny stones. MY OWN ones!
I also took a few pictures of the founder of that company, I was so excited to meet him in person, I was absolutely amazed with what he did with his passion for wine, how he was taking care of it for so many years and turned it into a business.
I wanted to print his photo and put it on my dream board, so it reminds me of the power of the passion and how important it is TO BELIEVE.
The day was very intense and wonderful. Absolutely stunning. The best.
I remember it all, I remember loving the region more and more with every single breath. I remember falling in love with wines from Bordeaux with every single sip.
I remember the pain in my heart, which was trying to break out of my chest to hide among vines and stay here… I didn’t want to think that tomorrow it all will be over…
The evening was approaching and we came back to the hotel to get ready for the dinner with the winemakers in their chateau in Sainte Colombe.
There was a surprise waiting for me in my hotel room… my suitcase! I had a chance to put some nice clothes on for the dinner party.I had a chance to change my high heels to other ones, even less comfortable ones ;)
I was living my life fully at this moment and enjoying literally every single second of it.
The party was absolutely outstanding – homemade food and even more great local wine. I was sharing these moments with great people from all around the world.
The winemakers that I knew only from the magazines were sitting next to me during the dinner. The barrels full of wine, that I used to watch in films, were around me and I could touch them without even getting up from the table.
Everything was perfect, everything but an accident that happened to me when we were about to leave… no, no worries, I am still alive ;)
When saying good bye to everybody, we were ‘kissing’ and hugging each others and I made a small mistake that cost me a lot…
In Poland, when we kiss the cheek for ‘good bye’, we do it three times. In France, they do it twice – once per a cheek. So, after two ‘kisses’, when one of the winemakers ‘finished’ saying goodbye to me, I turned to him once again, as I get used to our Polish ‘three-time-kisses’.
I said ‘sorry’ and was laughing altogether with everybody when suddenly he grabbed me and said: ‘no worries, Ela, in here we do it 13 times’ and he didn’t want to let me go unless I will give him 13 kisses…
Can you imagine how embarrassed I was? All of the people were on the bus already, waiting for me and watching me trying to escape from him… Gosh, I have never been more embarrassed in my life!
The boss (the same one that invited me for this trip) came to help me and after a couple of minutes, that seemed like forever, I was on the bus with others.
The following day…
We had a fresh start in the morning, as we had Bordeaux city and a few places in Medoc to visit.
Although I loved the wines from the Left Bank, I didn’t find the landscapes as beautiful as those from the Right Bank. At the same time I was absolutely amazed with this part of the world. Unbelievable how these small vines growing on flat vineyards can make such great wine!
Bordeaux city was lovely, we had some free time for ourselves and it was great. I got lost at least ten times: all the streets seemed the same to me, the river was long and looked pretty the same from both sides of the bridge… luckily, at last, I found others and together we found the restaurant, where I had a great vegetarian lunch and a few glasses of wine: Saint Julien, Saint Estephe and Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe, that were absolutely delicious.
The long lunch in Bordeaux was the ‘good bye’ party, as we were going to the airport so others could catch their planes.
Although my first trip to Bordeaux was over, I knew deep in my heart, that it was just a beginning…
Oops, I did it again
A year later, in August 2013, I went back to Bordeaux on my own. As I’d been in touch with people I met during my first trip, I had plenty of reasons to come back to the same place. It felt like home even more than before.
I visited the same vineyards once again, I visited the same wineries once again, and I went to the same restaurants. Also, I visited other wineries and other vineyards and I had lunches and dinners in many different places; each one was special for me.
I didn’t steal any stones from Saint Emilion this time. I enjoyed a couple of glasses of champagne in Les Cordelieres in the heart of the town of Saint Emilion and bought some proper souvenirs from the shop.
My heart was torn apart when it was time to leave and my eyes were full of tears when I was waiting for my plane to Poland.
When I landed in Warsaw, I had a message waiting for me in my inbox: ‘I can’t imagine my life without you’…
Every day in la Maison Rouge
Today is 29th of May 2016.
Since two years I live in France, on the opposite site of the hill when I saw the vineyards for the first time in my life that Friday in 2012.
I still love the aroma of the grapes, I still love the local wine, I am still totally in love with the vineyards and it still feels like home…
That guy, who embarrassed me so much by trying to kiss me 13 times, is now in our kitchen preparing a dinner for us. I am pretty sure in a while he will bring me a glass of wine so I can taste it blind and strengthen my tasting skills; he does it very often.
In about 15 minutes we will eat a dinner in our beautiful garden full of flowers that we’ve planted lately.
I will look at the vineyards that are surrounding our estate and I will smile… to my memories, to my dreams, to my passion, that became my day-to-day life.
To my heart, that is free and full of gratitude for what I have now.
I will kiss him 13 times and I will live happily ever after…
Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #MWWC25
Today, by chance, I found out about the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #MWWC25 created by TheDrunkenCyclist. This month’s theme is ‘travel’ and wine lovers have time till tomorrow to join the challenge.
As there is still a few hours till the end of the day, and I don’t know what time zone shoudl I stick to, I decided to write something about me now and take part in the #MWWC25; I’d love to meet other wine lovers participating in the #MWWC25, see how they interpret the ‘travel’ theme and read their stories.
It’s my first time, so I hope I won’t break any rules ;) I took quite seriously the 1000 words as a GUIDE… I hope you have enough time to read ‘a bit more’ than a thousand words ;) There is a reason why I do not write short poems ;))
Anyway.. Good luck everyone! Cannot wait to read you!
Big thanks to The Drunken Cyclist for creating this challenge a few years ago, a big thanks to Cheap Wine Curious who won last month’s challenge and chose the ‘travel’ as a theme for this month. Both you brought my memories to life.
Seriously, THANK YOU <3