Hi again.

Thank you for taking such good care of the place while I was gone. That was a long way to go for only a week – and I have the jet lag to prove it – but wow oh WOW. It was good. You’ll have to wait until the article comes out to get the juicy details, but for now, how about a few pictures? You were so nice to cheer me on, and the least I can do is give you some photographs in return.

Do you think fourteen will be enough? I hope so.

On the way over, we had an eight-hour layover in Amsterdam. I had never had an eight-hour layover before, and I can’t say that I recommend them, but if you do happen to have one, you should make sure that you’re in Amsterdam.

The airport is conveniently attached to a train station, so we crammed our bags into a luggage locker, bought tickets, and went into town. We were only there for a few hours, but it was long enough to have a bowl of tomato soup with bread and butter, to wind our way through the narrow streets and between the canals, and to have a torrid love affair with about 1,000 bicycles. I don’t know what it was about the bikes in Amsterdam, but they stole my heart right out of my chest. They have upright handlebars and curvy fenders and sometimes a basket in front. They are old and battered and rusted in spots, as functional as can be, and in their utterly simple way, they are gorgeous. They’re like men’s lace-up dress shoes, the kind my dad used to wear with a suit: timeless, well-worn, almost romantic somehow.

I also liked the buildings. Especially this blue one here.

And in the late afternoon, the sun on the canals was nice too.

But we had somewhere else to go. Namely, Bordeaux. (Not Paris! I know, I know. I like to mix things up a little.)

This was my first time in Bordeaux, but having now spent six days there, I can say with some authority that it is a very lovely place. Especially in early September, when the sun shines almost every day, and the light in the evening makes the limestone buildings look glowy and golden, and you can walk around in jeans and flats and short sleeves and never get too hot or cold.

It is also very beautiful, no matter where you look. Whenever we crossed the Pont de Pierre, the stone bridge, I liked to look up at the street lamps.

And out in the countryside, you should always stop to look out at the vineyards along the road, even if you’re in a hurry.

Some of them are a bit much, but if you make good wine, I guess you can get away with things. Like erecting a giant wine bottle sculpture at the edge of the property.

And should it happen to rain, you can still have a good time. The view from the car is not half bad.

Plus, merlot grapes look very pretty when they are wet and drippy.

And so do sauvignon blanc grapes. Even if you are rushing to leave for a dinner reservation and get a shoeful of mud while you try to snap a photograph of them.

When you come back to the city, you can wear a different pair of shoes. Ideally something comfortable, for walking on paving stones and old cobblestones.

And when you get home, you can give those muddy shoes a good cleaning. As soon as you recover from the jet lag, of course.

P.S. Brandon and I are gearing up to teach another cooking class in Bellingham, and this time, the topic is quick pickles and basic jam. (Or, in other words, how to make the most of the farmers’ market before fall sets in for good. Eeek.) The class will be held on Tuesday, September 23, at 6:30 pm. For more information, or to register, call 360.927.4890, or e-mail classes (at) inthekitchenbellingham (dot) com.