Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

Friends and Wine in the South of France

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 07 23rd, 2010

We headed to the south of France to Perpignan for some sun, good wine, and to meet some friends. We stayed with Marie and Olivier, an amazing couple who we hosted in San Francisco through We were really excited to see them again, this time in their country.

Olivier is a manager of Arnaud de Villeneuve winery, so we were really excited to try his wines. Luckily, the first night we visited there was a wine tasting and dinner planned for his winery. The wine was really good and it was fun to be surrounded by Catalan food and music.

Catalan dinner

The next day we dipped into Spain. First, we went to Figueres. The town was a nice little town to walk around in. The highlight was the Salvador Dali museum. The entire museum is filled with Dali’s surrealistic works. It feels a bit like walking through a Tim Burton movie.

Christy and Susan in Figueres

Part of the Salvador Dali museum

After Figures, we headed to the coast to the tiny town of Cadaques. The town is an old sea town with white Spanish buildings and a harbor full of sailboats. We all agreed we could have spent a whole day in the town absorbing the atmosphere.

Aaron in Cadaques

Our last morning in the Perpignan we were lucky enough to get a personal tour of the Arnaud de Villeneuve winery from Olivier. He showed us the process of making wine, from grape to bottle. We even got to taste some wine directly from the tank.

Watching wine get bottled

Tasting wine from the tank

Thank you Marie and Olivier for the wonderful hospitality. I am so glad we were able to visit you and experience your city. We hope you visit us again when we return to the United States.

Dinner with Olivier and Marie

Catalan Dinner

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 07 21st, 2010

As part of our time in the south of France, we went to a Catalan dinner and wine tasting sponsored by the Arnaud de Villeneuve winery. Catalonia is a region along the south France and Spain border which includes Barcelona. They have their own language which is like a mixture of Spanish and French. They have their own foods and music as well.

The dinner had 3 courses. Unfortunately, I never saw the menu so I had to guess the name of each dish.

Pa amb tomaquet

Meatballs with white beans

A pastery, peach, and roquefort cheese

Of course the night also included a lot of Arnaud de Villeneuve wines. They were all really good, especially the award winning Muscat de Rivesaltes, the Cotes du Roussillon, and a red wine, but I forget which type.

Arnaud de Villeneuve wines

“You will bring about the destruction of the German war machine…

Posted by Christy in Posts on 07 18th, 2010

The elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.” – General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

There are moments in life that bring you back to reality, to a place where you realize the petty problems and worries of your world don’t matter. The guilt that overtakes you is overwhelming, while at the same time you appreciate the fact that you have suddenly gained this knowledge that takes some people years, if ever, to attain.

This is what hit me as I walked into the American cemetery at Normandy, where 9,387 soldiers are buried for giving their lives for the freedom of the world in World War II.

On D-Day, 2,499 American soldiers died on the Normandy beaches, most at Omaha. We were shocked to see that the beach is in recreational use by the locals. If you think about it, however, this is what the soldiers fought for: The freedom of the people of Normandy, and, in fact, the world. But would I use the beach for recreational purposes? Certainly not.

Here are some photos of a memorial built just off the beach:

At the museum located next to the cemetery, there was a booth you could step in and hear accounts of different soldier’s memories of that day. The one that impacted me the most was by CPL Jess E. Weiss. He wrote in his diary every single day he was overseas, including D-Day. He reads his diary page dated June 6, 1944:

After a day of absorbing all this information, realizing the horrors that happened there and how many men were sacrificed, Aaron wished that he was there to fight the battle, to be on the beaches with those men, his brothers. I, however, did not feel that way. I reflect on what the men went through on that day, and came to the conclusion: I just couldn’t do it. To be face to face with the enemy, a rain of bullets falling down around me, my friends dying next to me; I just couldn’t. I wish I could say that I felt the same as Aaron, but I don’t.

The admiration I feel for all those people who have served or are currently serving in the armed services is overwhelming. So I say this: Thank you. Thank you for sacrificing your lives for my freedom. Thank you for your bravery and your unselfishness. Thank you a million times over, because I could never do what you do.

Ah, Paris!

Posted by Christy in Posts on 07 17th, 2010

I have always heard mixed reviews of Paris from everyone who has been there. It has been described to me as dirty, or fun; has nice people, or has mean people. Anyway, here is my personal account of Paris, and I should say it is my favorite city I have been to so far.

OK, so first off, the city is clean, no matter what people tell you. LA? Dirty. New York? Dirty. Paris? Clean, as far as I could tell.

Due to my father’s impatience, we ended up eating at the more touristy restaurants, and the food was mediocre at best. I wish we could have ventured out more and found some decent French restaurants, but oh, well (still love you, dad!).

The people, overall, were very nice and helpful. A few of our waiters and waitresses would get a little impatient with our lack of French, but hey, you get that in every city. So ignore the myth that the people aren’t nice. It’s not true.

You know that “overrated” chant that fans bust out when a sports team that is supposedly unbeatable is beaten? Yeah, that kept going through my head when we were walking through Versailles. Every room is just gold and paintings, gold and paintings, and no furniture, since all of it was taken out during the French Revolution. The gardens are awesome though, even though the fountain show sucked. (The fountain show is no show at all, it is the fountains being turned on. Whatever.)

The Eiffel Tower is always neat to see, since it is so iconic and recognizable throughout the world. It is especially magical when it sparkles at every hour for five minutes, we loved that.

The Musee D’Orsay is better than the Louvre, but the Louvre is still worth it to see the most famous painting in the world and the Venus de Milo. Just don’t expect to see any recognizable works besides those two (this coming from a person who does not know art, by the way.)

What really gets to me about the city is that feeling you get when you are walking down the street, look up to see the Eiffel Tower, and you think, ‘Wow. I’m in Paris!’. There’s just that special magic about it that I have never felt anywhere else before, besides San Francisco, and I just love it.

I might have also liked it so much because my parents were there and it was so nice to be with them. I have missed them so much.

And now, the pictures. Enjoy!

Straight out of Police Academy

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 07 15th, 2010

A funny thing happened to us on our bus ride from Barcelona to Paris. The drug dog that boarded our bus identified a suspicious character and alerted the human officers by humping the man. The drug dog appeared to be a puppy in training so I guess he can be excused for his behavior, or maybe the French police have a good sense of humor. For us it was the highlight of the 14 hour bus ride.