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Day 7 - May 5 - Beaujolais Region, France

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I woke up at 9:15 am today, just in time for the 9:00 breakfast.  Today we were scheduled to hike up a mountain to what Contiki referred to as "Top of the World."  My group for the hike included James, Myungsoo, Kent, Freddy, Kim, Yvonne, Olivia, and myself.
 
I think we left for the hike at 10:00 am.  It was supposed to take two hours to reach the top.  They gave us a basket which contained our lunch and a map, so we wouldn't get lost in what was really the middle of nowhere.  We stopped at a small town, which marked the halfway point to the top.  Kent bought a case of Kronenburg for when we reached the top.  Thanks Kent!
 
After some steep and curvy roads and paths, we finally reached the top.  There were some spectacular views.  You could see for miles.  Allegedly, you could see Switzerland and Italy on clear days.  What was most interesting were the patches of rain patterns scattered throughout the distance.  In between each of them, the sun was shining through.  I've never seen such a thing to that extent.  We used the time to relax at the top of the hill, have a couple much desired drinks and eat our lunch.  Europeans only eat stale bread.  I don't get it.  The cheese, however, was to die for.  I wish I remembered what kind of cheese it was.  We had lengthy discussions about movies and terrorism, among other topics I'm sure.

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JUST ONE OF THE VAST AMOUNTS OF GRAPEYARDS

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A VIEW FROM "TOP OF THE WORLD"

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ME, FREDDY, VINCE AND MYUNGSOO AT "TOP OF THE WORLD"

It eventually started to drizzle, so we set way back towards the chateau.  On the way back, we stopped at that town at the halfway point.  James, Kim and Yvonne wanted to use the post office.  It was, however, closed for a siesta.  That's right, a siesta.  In France, lunch is the biggest meal of the day.  Businesses will close for hours at lunch time, so the employees can go home to eat lunch, and then nap.  If I'm ever deported from the US, I will be moving to France.  It was then 1:30 pm and the post office wasn't scheduled to open until 3:30.  We decided to wait.
 
We sat in the front of a cafe and some people ordered some hot chocolate and coffee.  I didn't, because it was €5 for the smallest cup.  I do admit though, I was craving it and it was difficult to resist.  So there we sat for two hours, waiting for the post office to open.  We continued our discussion about movies.  At one point, I somehow mentioned the Darwin Awards.  I guess it's an American thing, because nobody had heard about them.  I explained what they are and everyone got a kick out of it.  For those who were there that have since forgotten, it's www.darwinawards.com.  We also discussed the French language.  There is a certain cachet to it that is unmatched; something about the way they slur their words together and yet still make them recognizable.
 
Eventually, 3:30 rolled around and we went back to the post office.  It was still closed.  James read it more thoroughly and it was closed all day for a public holiday.  It feels like I'm writing a screenplay instead of a nonfictional travelogue.  I don't think any of us minded though as we had an enjoyable time just chatting at the cafe.  There were definitely some interesting and witty remarks and conversations.
 
We then left for the chateau.  My knee, at this point was hurting even more than it had been in London.  I was visibly limping and people were starting to inquire about it.  After some mild disorientation, we finally got back to the chateau at 4:00 to conclude what ended up being a six hour excursion.

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MY VERY FIRST "SQUATTER"

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RANDOM FRENCH HOUSE

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I LOVE THIS PICTURE

My hiking group somehow ended up in the dining room after we got back.  I stayed for a few minutes but I decided to head up to catch a much needed nap before dinner.  I had two hours and I planned on napping for that entire duration.  However, I was only able to sleep until 5:00.  I was awoken to repeating "oos, ohhs, and ahhs," which were shouted in unison by several people.  The shouts were spaced out by about a minute and I laid there trying to fall back asleep for ten minutes or so.  The aforementioned slamming doors of the chateau weren't much of a help either.  I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out what the cause of the shouting was.  It was too orchestrated to just be alcohol induced hollering.
 
I conceded to myself that my nap was over and went back downstairs.  I went back into the dining room, but my hiking group had left.  I did jump into a game of rummy though, with Joanne, Hayley and Dane.  Hayley won as we were teaching her how to play.  She was somehow dealt ridiculously superior hands.  Beginners' luck really does exist.
 
We then ate dinner at 6:00.  Afterwards, I went outside and started playing hacky sack with the two Steves, and three or four others from Steve's tour (the Steve not from my tour, obviously), who were mostly from Canada.  I only remember one of their names.  It was Tal.  This marked the first time since high school I played hacky sack and only the second time in my whole life I ever played.  I never really enjoyed it, but I was in the mood to give it a go.  Matt soon joined in and, when we had about eight people in the circle, he threw his hacky sack in, so we had two going.  It was then when they explained "killer hacky sack" to me.  We moved down into the lawn and played for three hours.  Some girls up on the third floor flashed us.  Matt actually went upstairs to get a closer look and to find out who it was.  He later surmised that it was probably Jaime, from our tour.  The hacky sack was a great opportunity to compare our tours and continue to wind down from the mayhem that went along with Paris and London.  It was truly one of the most enjoyable times I've ever had in my life.  Also, my hacky sack skills quadrupled in those three hours.  I could've played for an eternity.  It's too bad it got dark.

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OUR GAME OF KILLER HACKY SACK

At 10:00, when it got dark, we went inside.  I went down to The Cave but it was boring that night.  I could tell it wasn't going to provide the fun it did the previous night.  There was only like 10 or 15 people there.  I then went to the dining room with Vince.  Probably 80% of the London to Rome tour was in there playing one of the thousands of versions of Circle of Kings, Kings, Circle of Death, or whatever anyone else calls it.  They had some very creative rules that I made a mental note of to bring back home with me.  One was to read the label on a food or beverage package in a sexual manner.  You can imagine what came out of that.  It was indeed hilarious and I wasn't even playing.
 
I ended up going upstairs with Matt.  We somehow ended up in Neil's room.  Probably influenced by the huge Circle of Kings game going on downstairs, we decided to play a drinking game.  I suggested that we play Asshole.  Neither of them had ever played it before, but they asked if I could teach them.  While explaining the rankings (president, vice president, etc.), they commented that the game sounded very American.  I suggested that we rename the highest ranked player the prime minister, but we ultimately settled with president.  We didn't play for very long; maybe two games. 
 
I asked about the screaming "oos, ohhs, and aahs" that kept me awake from my nap earlier, since I thought it came from the general direction of Neil's room.  They immediately chuckled and told me the noise was a result of Osama Bin Football.  I was clearly perplexed and they began to explain before I could even ask what on earth they were talking about.  Osama Bin Football was a game they invented out of boredom.  They acquired a foam football somehow, then they set up a small garbage can (or rubbish bin, as Australians refer to it) on one side of the room.  The object of the game, while standing on the opposite side of the room as the bin, was to lightly punt the ball into it.  There were two bunk beds which were placed on either side of the room, leaving a narrow unobstructed path to the bin.  The foam football was very bouncy, so if it hit the bedpost or the rim of the bin, there was no chance in making it.  They mentioned how they played for hours.
 
Their game seemed ridiculous to me, but I felt compelled to give it a try.  However, there was no way I would allow myself to invest several hours into it.  I tried a few times and came nowhere close.  I grabbed a beer and continued.  We then took turns.  After a few more beers, I played Osama Bin Football for four hours.  Among the people who played that night were Matt, Neil, Steve, Vince, Sally, Justin (from Australia), and myself.  There may have been a few more that I can't remember.  After four hours, I didn't score once.  Justin scored on his first attempt and had a very modest reaction, with little celebration.  Matt, after being unable to score while playing earlier (when I was trying to nap), scored after a couple hours.  His celebration was as if he won the Superbowl.  One by one, everyone scored.  A couple people even scored twice and I think Neil might have even scored three times.  I brought in a pack of M&M's that I brought from home.  They were the pastel colored Easter ones.  Apparently, these don't exist outside of North America.  All the Aussies and Kiwis were pretty amazed at the different colors. 
 
At what I think was around 2:00 am, Chauncy (the bartender I met the previous night) knocked on the door.  He said that we were way too loud and he could hear us all the way in The Cave, which was two floors below.  Osama Bin Football came to an end at that point.  It was, at times, an agonizingly difficult game, as most people scored only once in several hours.  Everyone had scored at least once, except for me.  It was the low point of the trip for me (not really).  I then became known as Osama Bin Virgin.  I went to bed at 1:00, after four hours of disappointment.  This was the general negative aura directed towards me throughout the end of the night.  It was, however, all in a joking context and it was actually an indescribable amount of fun, even for yours truly, the Osama Bin Virgin.

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MATT AFTER SCORING HIS FIRST GOAL IN OSAMA BIN FOOTBALL

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NEIL, ME, MATT AND VINCE PLAYING OSAMA BIN FOOTBALL

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SO DETERMINED

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THE OFFICIAL OSAMA BIN

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TRYING TO LOSE MY OSAMA BIN VIRGINITY

Aside from being defeated, Osama Bin Football really gave me an idea of the kind of people I was with.  Here we were in the middle of nowhere in France, stuck with a bunch of people we knew for less than a week, with virtually nothing to do.  Both nights at the chateau were among my favorite nights of the whole tour.  Between killer hacky sack, Osama Bin Football, or countless conversations about movies and the Darwin Awards, we always found something extremely fun to do.  It was clear that everyone was making the best of their vacation.