I think this was my first Independence Day away from the US. There were no fireworks, grilling out, or singing; I guess the French just aren't quite as excited about it as I am! I am in Marseille with my buddy Mike from Houston. We spent the day driving around Châteauneuf-du-Pape, touring wineries (Château de Beaucastel and Domaine de la Mordoree), and tasting tens of grenache-, syrah-, and mourvedre-based wines.
We then made our way to the beach (the reason we are staying in Marseille instead of in wine country) and played volleyball until way after sunset--which occurs around 10 PM here. They play really weird volleyball here; the main game is 3-on-3 (on a doubles court) and most of the points are scored not on spikes but instead on cheesy, intentional oversets and open-handed dinks. It's not as fun for me (or for Mike, I think), but hey, when in Rome. Or when in Rhône, as it were!
It was great fun to play with Mike, who has been my volleyball partner in Houston for the past couple of years. He's been taking some time off due to an ankle injury but he is still able to smack the ball down with the best of them--and despite my bad sets! We met a cool Brazilian named Rosh who promised to help us find some doubles games tomorrow--can't wait!
After we made our way back to the hotel and cleaned up, it was midnight and we were just a little late for our 10 PM dinner reservation! We were still able to find some food, though, and now, full and exhausted, I think we're going to sleep for a long, long time.
Happy Independence Day to all of you Americans out there. For all of her faults, the US is still the land of the free and the home of the brave!