Meet Lisa, Journy's dedicated reservationist covering...get ready for it...Canada, Mexico, Morocco, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Israel, Spain, Portugal, Australia, the UK, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Pretty much everywhere except Asia, actually (Ai handles that).
Having someone who's based in Europe secure reservations is critical for two reasons: on the one hand, there's the time difference (certain restaurants only accept reservations during set hours of the day), and on the other hand, language barrier (Lisa speaks French, German, English, and Spanish).
Originally from the Stuttgart area of Germany, Lisa moved to Angers, France 20 years ago when her father was transferred for his job. Angers, which is tucked away in the Loire Valley about two hours southwest of Paris, is primarily known for wine: Coteaux du Layon, Anjou, Coteaux de l'Aubance, and Saumur Champigny. Also worth noting, Crémant d'Anjou—a fizzy wine that resembles Champagne.
Another beverage claim to fame for the region? Cointreau, an orange-flavored triple sec liqueur produced right around the corner from Lisa's house.
Outside of wine and liqueurs, the Loire Valley is France's castle—or château—region, with the most popular being Chenonceau, Saumur, Chambord, Ussé, Montgeoffroy, Plessis-Bourré, Angers, and Cheverny (which, Lisa tells us, "was the inspiration for Haddock's home in the Tintin comics").
Oh, and for all the equestrians out there...Saumur, where Lisa went to high school, also happens to be France's horse capital.
We caught up with Lisa to learn more about what this region looks like now, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here's what she had to say:
1. What’s the current situation in France? Are you allowed to leave your home? Are you in an official quarantine? Or just practicing social distancing?
We have been in confinement (aka quarantine) for just about one month. You can still go outside for work, food, doctors appointments, or to work out/walk your dog; however; however, you have to complete an authorization form explaining why you're outside. If you're caught without one, you'll be fined 135 euros (the amount goes up if they catch you again). Once outside, you're supposed to social distance, but not everyone does it.
Most stores only allow a certain number of customers inside, so you have to wait in line outside. We're really lucky to be able to get our groceries delivered once a week (although we used this service before the quarantine, too).
2. How has your daily routine changed because of coronavirus? Describe what a typical day looks like for you now.
I get up anytime between 8AM and 3PM, depending on what I was up to the previous evening. After brushing my teeing, washing my face, and applying sunscreen, I eat breakfast and spend the morning scouring Upwork for jobs. After lunch, I usually try and work out (or at least watch the video), do laundry, bake, clean, shower, then have dinner and watch a movie.
I've also started changing my sheets every two days instead of once a week. Not sure why, but it gives me peace of mind.
3. What foods have you stocked up on?
Rice, pasta, LOTS of chickpeas, tinned tomatoes, onions, potatoes, garlic, oats, condiments, plant milk, and peanut butter. Also tofu, tempeh, soy yogurt, and kimchi.
4. How has the way you’ve eaten changed? What does a typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner look like in your household?
I generally always cooked at home (except for the occasional pizza), so nothing really has changed there.
For breakfast, my go-to is oatmeal with pears or bananas, peanut butter, and chocolate.
For lunch or dinner, I've been making chickpea stew with homemade flatbread. My mid-afternoon snack is usually homemade banana bread, and then dinner is seasoned rice with some kind of pan-friend dumpling and vegetable (cucumber, pickled carrots, roasted sweet potato, kimchi).
5. How are you keeping yourself entertained? Are you watching any TV shows or movies? Reading any books or magazines? Listening to podcasts?
I've been catching on recent movies, like Parasite and Birds of Prey. TV-wise, I've been watching Babylon Berlin, Kim's Convenience, and Black Lightening. Also, Disney+ just launched here in France, so I rewatched all the available Star Wars movies and also just finished Trevor Noah's autobiography, Born A Crime.