We made it!! After pitstop in Amsterdam and a subsequent long day of traveling, we have finally arrived back in the good old USofA! I can finally say that I have been to Europe and successfully experienced European culture! It is relieving to be back in the same time zone as my friends and family, but the experience is not to be undersold. My study abroad experience was truly incredible and I learned a lot, about traveling, overcoming language barriers, as well as wine and cheese! On our flight back, I was able to see High Point Solutions Stadium, a marker of New Jersey shown below! I would recommend to anyone that asked to take advantage of an opportunity such as this, to experience new culture and embrace new opportunities! It will be an experience of a lifetime and one to reflect on for years to come. I look forward to going back to Europe, hopefully within the next few years!
This morning we woke up earlier than we would have liked and headed on an early bus to Jura. No one was exactly excited to get on the bus that early, due to a previous evening’s festivities, but it was well worth the journey. Even after this mornings coffee, everyone managed to fall asleep on the bus. After about two and a half hours of driving with a short (and very upscaled/modernized) rest stop break in between here and Jura, we had finally arrived. We went to the Salt Mines which as considered a Unesco World Heritage site. The mine was 10meters underground and still partially functioning – though the salt was not for consumption.After this, we soon broke for lunch covered for by Rutgers. I had trout for the first time, along with Creme Brûlée and a cafe. After indulging in a much needed hot meal, we hopped back on the bus for a trip to Arbois.
We walked around the town once we arrived, and saw the vineyards where Pasteur had concluded that yeast created good wines and bacteria created bad wines turned to vinegar. Soon after that, we checked into our hotel and had a day filled with Pasteur. We went to his house, and also a local park which had a large monument dedicated to him. We then got to go to his house! It was filled with a beautiful landscape as well as his lab where he determined that yeast creates good wine, a great discovery for us all! As a scientist, this experience was quite incredible!
Non-science people might not particularly understand this man’s importance, but our group of scientists were nothing short of captivated! After this, we went to a wine tasting from a local winery, but none of us in particular was fans of the wine.
Then we went out to dinner and ate a four course meal. There was so much food, it almost felt like torture having to eat it. At least I walked my 10,000 steps today, because I could not move after that food. A meal consisting of salad, sausage, cheese, and potatoes, more salad and then dessert just about pushed my gastronomic limits. The meal was filled with good company and food, including our bus driver! We soon returned to the hotel to get rest for another day fun filled day of activities!
Today, we woke up early and went on a two hour bus ride in the morning to a dairy shop that made the famous AOP Epoiss cheese. The air around the factory surrounded with the scent of cheese and we then got a tour of the factory. This was much different than the other places we saw cheese production because the factory produced over 1 million cheeses a year, including its aging process. We saw the process of the cheesemaking starting from the curdling, to the shape formation. No Whey! We even found out that one of the cheeses they created was available in Whole Foods markets in the US.
After this, we went on a picnic in a near by park and shared cheeses, bread, and wine with various spreads and pates. We enjoyed the beautiful weather after several days of rain, and were even accompanied buy a local dog. After lunch, we drove to another vineyard.
This vineyard was established by the Cistercian order at Citeaux in 1098 called Clos de Vougeot. This vineyard was small and enclosed and produced fine wines. in the 16th century, a house was built as a vacation place for monks, nuns, and abbots. Today, it is used as a wine museum and also the congregating place of the official Wine Fraternity of France.
It is divided amongst ~80 landowners for a very small plot of land. The class seemed to really enjoy this cheese, and we bought some for our picnic. The store inside the dairy that sold the cheese also provided recipes, which I am looking forward to making at home! It was here that the first records of wine making were ever recorded. Then we met the original owner of the Celliuer de la Abbey who sold his buisness and began working in the vineyards with horses. He plowed the field with the horse along with the help of his intern. It was really fascinating to see a person doing to manual labor with the help of a horse. He took a break from work to pose for a picture with us. After this, we headed back to Cluny and ate dinner together. In order to keep off the wine and cheese, I decided to take a short run around Cluny. Cheese and wine are delicious, but they sure are fattening!
Early in the morning, we awoke for a long bus ride to the city of Beaune. From class, we learned that Beaune is a medieval city that today’s population is ~20,000, which is much larger than Cluny(population ~2,500). We visited the Bouchard Family Winery which was truly an incredible and once in a lifetime experience. The Bouchard Winery typically only hosts renowned people such as royal families and celebrities. No one
is quite sure how, but Dr. Healey worked her magic and was able to provide us a tour of the Bouchard Wine Cellars which we’re nothing less than fascinating. The library had over 2 million bottles of wine aging, some for almost 200 years. We were even able to taste some of the finest wines in France, which were all delicious!
The class then parted for lunch, where Emily, Jess, Isaac and I indulged in a traditional French three course meal! We began with a salad, chicken, followed by a coffee. We all sampled each other’s food, and got a sense of traditional French cuisine, along with a full stomach!
We reconvened after lunch and moved along to a Medieval Hospital and Church. It was incredible to see the correlation between the church and the hospital, how a large patient room had an alter at the front! We were then captivated by an old painting that used to be in front of the alter but was then relocated. It was quite a spectacle and I have never seen anything like it in my life. Seeing the connection between the church and the hospital was truly a unique experience. After this, we departed for the bus back to our hostel and got a view of the French countryside.
It feels as though we have been waiting for this day forever, and now its finally here! Our first official day beginning of an intensive, but enjoyable two week class.
We prepared for the long day this morning with a typical french breakfast: consisting of bread, jam, and coffee. It’s not as satisfying as a nice omelette, but that is simply not as the French way. After breakfast, we attended our first class in Cluny at the hostel we are staying at and discussed many biological and enzymatic processes. It was kind of hard to concentrate with the excitement of being in a new country full of history, but we eventually made it through! The class was relieved when we walked to the market and bought food for the next few days. The language barrier was evident when we went to the store and tried to navigate the isles. We all bought different kinds of cheeses and experimented. I bought three kinds of cheeses: Livarot, Macone, and Petit Camembert. We made small sandwiches and will eat the rest of the food tomorrow for lunch at the picnic. We sat and ate lunch together and we all got to know each other a little bit better.
We then took an unofficial tour around the Cluny, which began with a view from the Cheese Tower. I took some pictures of the view which was very pretty. The city of Cluny has such a rich history, and seeing it in person changes your perspective! Dr. Reinart, a Rutgers professor
showed us around the Medieval part of town, and then we went to the museum of the abbey. A design of the abbey was constructed using an online model and it was quite breath t
aking. Seeing its remains was even more impressive. It was interesting to compare the types of art between the time periods of construction. It was really interesting to see how the town has developed over the years with
such a rich history. Some of the remaining abbey is still used today!
Once we completed the tour, we went to a wine tasting at a local shop and tasted four types of wines: Chablis, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Gammay. I really enjoyed the Chablis and the Gammay, which are both on the dryer side. Inspired by the wine, we went out to a local restaurant and ordered pasta. I had pasta with pesto paired with a white wine; in french, this is les pates au pesto au Macon vin Blanc with a shot of espresso for dessert. I went with Jess, Emily, and Isaac and we all seemed to enjoy ourselves. Tomorrow, we are going to a goat farm and a winery!