Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wrapping up this leg of our travel adventure

So we have been back in Cheltenham UK for just over a month now and have obviously been neglecting our blog (sorry!!). So much has been going on and it is difficult to stay up to date with it as I’m sure you can imagine. I’ve got to a point that I’m so behind, that I’ve struggled to be bothered to write anything at all! But, this blog is important….not only for all of you who want to be kept updated with our adventures, but also for our own record because we want to look back on this some day and remember the details that are so easily forgotten. So…. it’s time to bite the bullet and put those of you who eagerly await our posts, out of your misery. I’m going to try and break this one up into a few posts and I may not get it all done tonight, so bear with me! We still have our time in France to cover as well as settling back into ‘normal’ life – who knows what that really means for us right now! So we’ll start with leaving Spain and making our way across the French border where we spent 6 nights (Nov 19-25).

We left Gijon in Spain after our ordeal with the Policia and we stayed another night in San Sebastian on our way over the French border. The first thing we noticed when entering France was the complete and drastic change in scenery! We went from beautiful green, rolling hills and mountains with such a diverse array of architecture in Spain, to an absolutely flat plain, with scenery that was dead looking and every house almost identical – cream render with red tiled roofs! Hmmm, in that moment we wanted to go back to Spain….but we had to slap ourselves and we decided to give it a chance. So glad we did!

It was about 2pm and we were getting quite peckish – almost ready for lunch, well at least in Spain it was. We neglected to check what time the French have their lunch and when we drove into a small village to find food, the streets were deserted and there was no food in sight! We walked around for a while trying to find somewhere that would serve us food, but the best we could do was coffee so we ended up snacking on what we had in the car. Mental note – the French have lunch from 12noon-2pm. We were actually a bit relieved because it was hard to get used to the Spanish meal times. We did have the chance to try out some French speaking with the waitress that served us coffee which was quite amusing because we had spent no time whatsoever even glancing at our French phrasebook or learning anything from it until we crossed over the border. It was a little challenging (to say the least) to switch from trying to speak Spanish (after just starting to get the hang of that), now we were switching to another language again! So needless to say, we continued to speak Spanish to French people automatically and we wondered why they looked at us weird. Then we would realise and have to correct ourselves! Haha! It didn’t help that most of the pronunciations in our phrasebook for French were wrong, so we found out!

Anyway, we arrived at our B&B just outside the gorgeous little medieval town of Saint Emilion in one of the major wine regions of France (half hour from Bordeaux) at about 5pm. We had a good start with our host (Agnes) who couldn’t speak much English…..Tim started off by saying in French “hello my name is English”!! LOL! I realised what he wanted to say was do you speak English! It was a good laugh which helped to break the ice! We settled into our room and managed to get some recommendations of where to eat in Saint Emilion, then we made our way our for dinner. The meal was a bit of a let down compared to what we’d had in Spain – Tim had steak which had to be sent back because it was still mooing on the plate and I had chicken….well it was all bone actually. I searched for any sign of meat under the chicken skin, but it was nowhere to be found! The poor chicken obviously wasn’t alive long enough to grow any meat! A bit disappointing, but we weren’t too phased because we were in such an amazingly beautiful place! We wandered around the streets for a while and admired the cobblestones and ancient architecture lit up with the reflection of the street lights. We couldn’t wait to explore the village in the daylight! We drove around for a while, trying to navigate the one way streets and came across the tiniest laneway we’d ever seen and we wondered if cars were even meant to attempt to drive through. The side mirrors were literally an inch from a stone wall on both sides of the car!

We came across a wine bar and decided to go in, but before we did we came across a timid stray dog that we had seen earlier that day. I’m such a sap when I see any animal that doesn’t look like it has a home. All I wanted to do was take him home!! Bit tricky considering I was in a foreign country though. I can thank my Mum for developing the desire to ‘foster’ any animal or person that looks like they need some love! Hehe. We got chatting to one of the locals who also took pity on the poor dog which looked like it hadn’t eaten for some time and she spent the whole evening texting her friends to see if anyone would take it in. Meanwhile, the dog slept on the front door mat inside the wine bar – it had obviously found a temporary home. Thankfully, by the end of the night, this local woman had been successful in finding it a home! A happy ending……needless to say I slept well that night!

In the same wine bar, we met a wine importer from Brazil (Fernando) and his associates who were buying bottle after bottle and sharing it around, including with us! Sweet! We found out later that we actually drank wine from a 200 Euro bottle! Ahhh! We were also personally invited by Fernando to stay at his home in Brazil! We could not believe we were in a tiny French village drinking very expensive wine for free and then being invited to stay at some rich dude’s house in Brazil!! A memorable experience to say the least! Another local guy invited us to go and have some wine tastings in his shop the next day which we gladly accepted.

So….the next post will finish off our time in France and I’m going to be really slack and dot point the highlights otherwise I really am going to be here forever, or so it seems.


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