Monday, June 2, 2014

France and Germany… a send off from the Army-- Part 2



My feet were horribly swollen after our long flight to Germany on the cramped plane.  

After a night's rest, Bill and I decided to go to the Kaiserslautern train station.  We knew we wanted to go to France, but I also had an interest in visiting the Rhein.  We flipped a coin to determine where we would go next.  Heads would take us to Reims, France, which is Champagne country.  Tails would take us to the Rhein River.  Heads won, so we purchased train tickets from Kaiserslautern to Reims.  The train journey would take us to connections in Saarbrucken, Strasbourg, and Champagne-Ardennes before we reached our destination.  It was an all day affair.


On our way!



At one point, Bill ended up in the bar car to buy me the French equivalent of a sandwich you'd get at a gas station, along with a small bottle of wine.  Actually, it was pretty good.  I had a club sandwich, which had ham, bacon, egg, lettuce and tomato on very fresh wheat bread.  It had a nice mustard sauce on it, too.  The wine was local and excellent, of course.


I took this photo because I can't remember the last time I've seen colored toilet paper.


Champagne! (check the sign)


Bill enjoys the view…

We got to the Reims train station in the late afternoon.  We didn't have a hotel reservation and we were both still pretty jet lagged from our travels.  After fruitlessly trying to use the local interactive guide near the station with no Internet access, I finally suggested we hit the local Ibis.  You can pretty much find an Ibis hotel near most train stations in certain European countries.  Bill and I have stayed in a few of them during our travels.  They can be counted on to be clean, basic, and no frills.  The one near the Reims station is no exception, although they do sell champagne at a pretty good price at their little bar. We got a bottle of my favorite bubbly, Taittinger, for 42 euros.  Quite a bargain, given that we bought it at a hotel…


I thought it was funny that the hotel sold feminine hygiene products alongside its champagne...


The bar at the Reims Ibis.



Expensive bubbly at a cheap hotel!

We went out to dinner and ended up at this place called Cote Cuisine.  I think I was lured there by the sight of the cute little garden where they were serving dinner.  We didn't have reservations and the waiters were very "weeded"-- as in, they had more business than they could handle in a timely manner. It was okay, though.  The food was good and while the wait staff wasn't all that friendly, we enjoyed ourselves anyway.



Serrano ham appetizer...


Our first bottle of champagne...



I had turbot.  Bill had monkfish...



The turbot was delicious, but the sauce was totally sinful and made mostly of butter.  I love butter, but I had to eat that sauce very sparingly.


Bill loved the monkfish.  I didn't try it because of the mushrooms in it, but he pronounced it delicious.


Chocolate and vanilla tart for me…  


Chocolate mousse for Bill…  I think?



We walked back to the Ibis and got some sleep in the no frills bed after enjoying more champagne…  I wish we'd had more time in Reims.  I would have liked to have visited some of the champagne houses. We did manage a day trip to Epernay, which is where the champagne is produced.  More on that in the next post.



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