A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: jenniferhall

Day 23 to 30: The idyllic islands of Croatia!

Barcelona bungles and Croatia chillaxing

sunny

8 May – Barcelona to Dubrovnik

Well today will go down in history as one of the most substantial planning fails of my life!

This morning I’m heading to Dubrovnik to join my 7-night Katarina Line boat trip around the idyllic islands of Croatia. Sublime relaxation awaits me…a mere 2 hour flight from Barcelona. It started as yet another rainy morning in B-city, with me walking in the pouring rain, dragging my carry-on behind me under my umbrella, to the airport bus in Catalunya square. A minor annoyance, and I would be in sunny Croatia soon.

I arrived at the airport, and couldn’t find my flight on the departures screen, which was odd, given I’d checked the online travel agent’s live itinerary of my travel plans only the other day. I went to the counter, and they told me the flight wasn’t with Iberia, it was with Vueling and to check-in there. Right-o, back on track. But at the Vueling counter the lady told me that my flight had been cancelled in January, and I’d been moved onto the flight YESTERDAY! Say-what? Yes, apparently the cryptic emails in January from the strange on-line travel agency I’d booked, which had said something had been amended and/or cancelled, but which only showed my return flight, were actually notifying me of this hoo-ha. And were there any more direct flights Barcelona to Dubrovnik today? Of course not, that would be…too simple.

So I activated my emergency problem-solving psyche and did what anyone in my shoes would do: I delegated. A quick Whatsapp call to a delightful, and as it happens very handsome, Perth Travel Agent did the trick, and a short time later I was booked onto another [set] of flight[s] which would take me from Barcelona to Frankfurt to Dubrovniki, with a pretty significant encroachment into my ‘contingency budget’, and with only a couple of hours delay. I was back on [but literally a whole country and several hours off] track!

Flying into Dubrovnik is really spectacular, with a beautiful rocky coastline, dotted with islands in the foreground, and mountain ranges in the background. I was lucky enough to be in a window seat, and glimpsed the view of the walled old town beneath. Spectacular!
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A 30 minute shuttle bus later, and I was arriving into the harbour of Gruz to meet my boat and all the other 30-something solo travellers! I walked up and down the harbour a few times, spying the gorgeous luxury boats (alas, not mine), and walked past a boat with an older crowd….couldn’t possibly be mine, so did another lap. Yep, it was mine in the end, the beautiful P so I joined my 24 other travel companions, all determined that yes, I would teach them all Canasta.

We were staying the night docked in Dubrovnik before setting sail for our first location of Mjlet tomorrow, and shortly after I arrived we were served a delightful three course dinner. I made myself comfortable in my cosy cabin, and settled in for the cruise.

9 May – Dubrovnik to Mjlet

Each morning it is planned that we’d travel several hours to the next location, have lunch aboard the boat, then start our adventures in the early afternoon. The waters of this part of Croatia were incredibly calm, so my Kwells stayed put for the time being, and I enjoyed the breakfast, calm journey, and relaxation of books and napping while we pottered along.

We arrived in Mjlet and after lunch, I hired a bike to ride the 11km or so around the two main lakes of the National Park, in what would turn out to be one of the most calm and relaxing afternoons of my trip. The turquoise water of the lakes was suitable for swimming, and allegedly a few degrees warmer than the sea had been, so I took along my swimmers and attempted to brave it at a tiny rocky beach about half way through the ride. It was freezing! I made it thigh deep, but didn’t want to spoil anyone else’s leisurely afternoon with my ear-piercing screeches, so decided not to take the plunge and opted for a few more chapters of my book (The Martian) instead.
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One of the couples on the boat were Aussie – Neale and Ellice – and I joined then for a stroll around the bay in search of a nice restaurant, and found a nice spot for squid and chips. A lovely end to a fantastic day!
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10 May – Mjlet to Hvar to Stari Grad

I’m struggling to wake up early enough to be on time for the 8am breakfast, so am opting to sleep later and take my chances on the leftovers remaining at around 8:30/8:45am instead. And then…it’s back for naps and lounging!

We headed out of the idyllic Mjlet to Hvar, and after a lunch of orange chicken and cake, we arrived and headed off for some exploring. Unfortunately, a weather report of extreme winds had come in, so we only had a short time of exploring available before we’d have to get back on the boat to head to another, calmer place, which was to be Stari Grad.
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The town was fairly quiet, still being quite early in the season, so it was a relaxing place to stroll and check out the buildings, little streets, and harbour, and of course the various shops, comparing the feel to what I’ve seen so far in Italy and Barcelona. There is certainly something different about Croatia, and I can’t quite put my finger on it.
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I was exploring a few of the jewellery stores, having seen that red coral was quite the specialty, but balked at the extortionate prices! There is nothing cheap about this place! But I did find an incredible and very unique store which sold handmade items which the ladies, mother and daughter duo Iris and Rose (very cute!) run. The mum, Rose, had crochets unique pieces using very fine silver coated wire, and her daughter Iris the hand ‘stitches’ on the beads and pearls. I bought an embarrassing amount of pearl jewellery, which I will treasure and will be quite unique I think, and hopefully have given them a big cash injection in the process! Rose was saying that since there is no work in the down season, she spends that whole few months making each piece, which takes 4-8 or more hours each, and then spends the peak season in the shop selling, so they have to do well enough to get through the low period.

I was strolling back in search of icecream, and passed a few cafes. I had a mere glance, then a double take, at a couple of people sitting off to one side of a café, and whilst I acted cool, calm, and collected, it was Adam Driver (the new Star Wars villain, and Lena Durnham’s BF in the show ‘Girls’) and Jemima Kirk (the sassy one in ‘Girls’!). Gaa star struck! I bumped into one of the couples from the boat and was gushing about my fangirl experience, but I’ll be damned…they hadn’t seen the new Star Wars. Hardly anyone on the boat had seen it! And no one knew them! I will have to save my excitement for someone who would appreciated it…cue Facebook…

Back on the boat and the afternoon was spent napping on the way to Stari Grad, literally translated as ‘Old Town’, which is (obviously) the oldest town in Croatia.

I went exploring in the evening with several of the couples from the boat, walking the incredibly small, quaint, cobbled streets, some of which are currently undergoing a bit of maintenance in preparation for peak season, and managed in the first few minutes to get separated and lost from all three couples I was out with! After walking on my own for a while, searching for nice restaurants and little shops, I was reunited with the group, and we found a lovely small restaurant being run single-handedly by the chef, for a meal.
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Had a great dinner of fish (whole little bream), a tomato salad (literally just several cut up boring tomatoes which I was reminded I don’t like), and tried to try the free grappa which was offered to us. I failed. It was so incredibly strong, and on an empty stomach, intolerable to a novice like me! As we were leaving, the owner (an artist) stopped to chat, in Croatian which none of us could understand, but he still managed to explain an awful lot to Neale at least! He drew a lot of the old wooden ships apparently, and had drawn a picture onto a slab of construction concrete, and offered it to me as a gift. Which was lovely. But it was concrete. But it was a gift. Which was lovely. So I took it…all 2.5kg of it!
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11 May – Stari Grad

Today we were offered the opportunity after lunch to either go back on the bus to Hvar, given we didn’t get a lot of time there yesterday, or stay in Stari Grad. About half of the people caught the bus, but I stayed aboard and taught the Aussies canasta! Fun times. We enjoyed a nice lunch of pumpkin soup, beef with potatoes, and tiramisu for dessert, then I disappeared for nap time, then back out to wander through town searching for the traditional and local lavender cake (to no avail).

Tonight was the Captain’s dinner, a cruise special where the Captain joins the group for dinner, has a dance with one of the ladies, and gets a bit of a party started. I was the girl he did the waltz with (I had dropped many hints to the other ladies that as the only single lady it was my moral duty to do the dance), and then the daggy dancing begun! I don’t know the moves to the macarana as it turns out (Vicki, where were you when I needed you!), but I was down with ABBA. The dinner was a buffet of meats, cheeses, and fruits for entrée, veal with potatoes and spinach for dinner, and an amazing frozen traditional dessert of semi-freddo with almonds and choc sauce. But as it was pumpkin-o-clock, it was bedtime for me whilst the rest of the boat partied on!

12 May – Stari Grad to Korcula

Another morning late to breakfast, and napping the travel time away before arriving in Korcula to a lunch of a lovely white fish and a berry cake. Korcula was a tiny beautiful little egg-shaped city, and I strolled for a while through all the little streets which met at the top of the hill and spoked out to meet the water. Apparently this is where Marco Polo lived for a while.
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I had pre-dinner drink with Alastair and Sheila (and stole some of Alastair’s kindly offered pepperoni pizza), then went searching for my own dinner. Found a beautiful restaurant with a fresh fish display, and decided on more delicious local seafood. The very nice waiter offered (nay, insisted!) a tuna mousse which I reluctantly tried, but which was quite nice, which was followed by a whole grilled fish (the red local snapper) which was amazing! Couldn’t find any dessert so went back to the boat for a shifty bit of Nutella stolen from the brekky buffet. Nom nom nom!
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13 May – Korcula to Sipan Island

The travel this morning was pretty rough (for me at least), so I napped through the worst of it until the swim stop. I had promised on the first day’s swim stop that I would absolutely, definitely, get in the water at least once, but I still didn’t brave the 18 degree water to say I’ve swum in the Adriatic, so tomorrow is the last chance!

We arrived in Sipan to a teeny tiny little town spaced around a beautiful bay with literally nothing to do but stroll and soak it all in. After a coffee stop with the Aussies and a few others, I strolled back to the boat for a cheeky nap, to be met by a very friendly cat who followed me all the way to the gang plank, trying to come on board. He finally agreed to guard the boat, and fell asleep at the end of the plank. Very cute!
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A nap and a few games of canasta later, and we were heading out to dinner at one of the nice restaurants; the aussies, myself, and another lovely couple Alice and Rich, and had local fried sardines (delish!) and very garlicy grilled prawns (also delish), and shared a choc orange cake with the blokes.

14 May – Sipan Island to Dubrovnik

This it was time to teach Alice canasta! Whoop whoop, but after one game (where Alice smashed me), it got a bit rocky so I spent the rest of the morning napping until lunch, before arriving into Dubrovnik. Lunch was yet another huge meal, of a rolled stuffed pork roast thing with roasted veggies (beetroot, my fave!), then a fondant icecream with cherry sauce. A number of us caught the bus into town, then I disappeared for a stroll and a browse through some shops, and bought a few concrete things (as you do!), and saw the GoT shop.

Met the rest of the boat for the included walking tour through Dubrov with a very nice guide. We learnt about a bit of the history of the town, and half way through saw a wedding procession walking through the old town towards the cathedral for the ceremony, with everyone singing and a band playing along. They had the cutest little kids, only about 2 or 3, dressed up in very traditional clothes as the ring bearers, and the poor kids generated a rather big crowd of tourists snapping photos of them (myself included!).
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I couldn’t believe that much of Dubrov was hit in only the 1990’s but shots and bombs in a war, and the majority of houses have new roofs. The town also survived an horrific earthquake in the 17th century which killed half the population and destroyed all but two buildings in the city, which was then totally rebuilt. We walked up a little side street and saw the door to an orphanage where woman could drop their babies, take half a ‘coin’, and possibly return to collect them one day with the coin the only proof of which child was theirs.

After the tour I went up the cable car for some aerial views of the town, which is spectacular, then came back to town to buy some gifts (a set of canasta cards for Neale and Ellice and Alice). After a quick snacky dinner of fresh and fried oysters, and a shrimp burger which, whilst looking good, was cold in the middle and pretty average, I was headed back to the boat for a game of canasta, then to bed!
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15 May – Dubrovnik to Barcelona

After breakfast and packing, it was back to Barcelona for another few days. Neale and Ellice were also on the same flight, before heading onward to Milan and Singapore for the rest of their trip, so we joined forces and battled the bus bitches to sort out our shuttle bus back to the airport. Geez some people can be unhelpful! We enjoyed some coffee and chats before our flight, and I was thoroughly immersed in my new book on the flight so the time went by quickly and suddenly I was back in Spain, amazed at how many countries you can cover in Europe in two hours!

My first job after checking back into my crappy hostel: nap-time.

All that relaxing in Croatia had been thoroughly exhausting, so tonight was just a slow stroll through the streets to find some dinner. I stopped in a cute little square of restaurants, and after being turned away by a couple which were full, settled on a little outdoor table at a nice tapas restaurant. I just wanted something simple, so had a chilli Mohjito (ha!), potatas bravas, and some panko crumbed chicken strips with a tasty dipping sauce. The upmarket version of KFC crispy strips! Nailed it!

Posted by jenniferhall 11:26 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Day 22 - Sunny Barcelona...in the rain!

Rain rain go away.... actually, it's perfect napping weather!

rain 15 °C

Ah Barcelona, the land of eternal sunshine, cloudless skies, warm Spanish suns….is pissing down rain right on time for my bike tour through the main sights of the town! Woo hoo, at least I can confirm I invested wisely in my over-priced Kathmandu pink rain jacket.

I found my way to the meeting spot, somewhere in the Gothic quarter, in a square with the city hall and parliament buildings, where so many civil wedding ceremonies and shirt-less protests taken place (sometimes, on the same day I’m told). I can see several groups of people milling around what look like tour guides and bicycles, but on approaching them, each and every one was German, Italian, Spanish, or some other language I couldn’t comprehend, and I was running desparately close to being late and left behind! Finally, though, I found my group under an umbrella, and waited patiently under my Bali umbrella for the rest of the people to arrive and to collect our bikes.

The tour was run by Fat Tire Tours, and I highly recommend! The guide, Ben, was funny and informative as he guided us on our broad handled old bikes through the myriad bike paths (Barcelona, you know how to do bike paths, I’ll give you that!). We saw the beautiful gothic cathedral, the square with memorials to those who lost their lives in one of the wars and which is filled to the brim with flowers each year, and the beautiful Parc de la Ciutadella with the fountain resembling the Trevi fountain in Rome near the Arc de Triumph. Apparently, the largest Arc de Triumph is in North Korea, though no one has seen it, but Barcelona proudly can say they have the reddest Arc de Triumph, and one which was not built for the purpose of welcoming back a victorious army, but to celebrate some town planning prowess.
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We rode on to visit (from the outside only) the Sagrada Familia, which is incredibly interesting from the outside, then onto the beach (mmm rainy beaches, my fave) which we learnt was constructed for the Barcelona Olympics, and with several tonnes of sand disappearing each year (which was imported from Egypt), they have an annual dredge to top it back up for peak season. We are so lucky in Australia to have such naturally beautiful beaches…nothing compares so far.

A quick drink stop at a dodgy café, and we were back on the road, going through the cobbled streets (a bit jiggly on a bike!) of the Born region to retire our bikes and head off on more adventures.

I strolled through the streets, and headed back via the market to pick up some fruit and a cronut (hmm, jury’s out still on them), before a very long siesta. The Spanish life definitely suits me I’m realising.

After several hours of languishing in bed, it was time to google some more amazing restaurants and find somewhere for a late (or early? Or on-time?) dinner around 9:30pm. I found a place called Dos Pallilos, not far from the hostel, which boasted excellent reviews. I rocked up, expecting fancy Spanish tapas, and was met by an exquisite Japanese fusion restaurant! And the food did not disappoint, and I had it all! Soup dumplings, their take on Peking duck on crispy chicken skin with all the trimmings, 12 hour roasted pork, and smoke infused honeyed bone marrow which was one of the most interesting textures and flavours I can remember. Dessert (well, I should say desserts plural) was crispy pork crackling with ginger icecream, which could equally have passed for an entrée, and these tiny little Japanese doughnuts filled with some sort of oozy creamy chocolately warm goo as well as a chocolately frozen centre. Mmmm hmmm. Everything which came out looked and smelt amazing, as noted by the blokes sitting next to me, who on several occasions saw what I had and ordered it as well and were equally happy.

Belly full, book thoroughly enjoyed, and several new and interesting flavours on the tip of my tongue, I was ready to retire to my hostel.

Daily summary:
Hours of sleeping – 12
Cobbled Born streets explored – dozens
Times my tour guide mentioned “the warm, ever-sunny skies of Barcelona” – 3
Course of delectable fusion – 6

Permission to nap anytime, anyplace…priceless!

Posted by jenniferhall 09:06 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Day 21 - Cassuolet aftermath, scratched car, and Barcelona!

Carcassonne to Barcelona

rain 14 °C

I weighed myself this morning, out of curiosity mainly, and to determine whether I was winning, or French food was winning. I’m winning…woo hoo! Despite the cheese, bread, and butter being consumed, all the walking has paid off and I’m only 300g up after 3 weeks…and that was probably made up of pure cassoulet anyway.

I travelled once more from Villegailhenc to Carcassonne to have a proper explore by the light of day. I went through the museum/castle walls and admired the country view, whilst the drizzle started to come down. It was freezing, and as usual, I was not appropriately addressed for the climate, so I made my way towards somewhere warm for lunch, but got turned away from one place, made to wait for 20 minutes without my order even being taken at another, and ended up having a dodgy kebab-shop cheeseburger in the rain instead. It was time to move on to Barcelona!
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I drove to Perpignan, only an hour and a bit away, dehired the car (after negotiating down the claim for the scratch), and found the station and purchased my ticket. Thankfully, the train had been delayed so I wasn’t quite as rushed as I’d thought I’d be…but I did stand on the wrong platform until one minute before the train arrived, realised, then ran across to the other platform just in time!

I arrived in Barcelona, and changed onto a couple of metro trains to arrive at the hostel which was quite lovely. I finally did three weeks of washing too, so I would finally have clean clothes again! And to my delight, I am not in the land of the napping…so a good three hour nap was in store, before a very late dinner and MeetUp event in the Gothic quarter.

I headed out and found a few recommended restaurants, all full, before stumbling onto a lovely little tapas joint called Agueloo13. Absolutely the best sangria I’ve ever had …sweet, flavourful, delicious!

Relaxing over my sangria, I read Julia Child whilst waiting for my dinner. Salmon tartare with roe and dill mayo, and fois gras with salted caramel, clarified fat, and some sort of berry jam on crunchy little bread circles. Extremely interesting, and thoroughly tasty. However, accompanying it, and what I would discover is quite a popular dish, was ‘tomato bread’…toasted bread with tomato mush on it, which would render the bread…moist.
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After dinner, I joined a MeetUp group around the corner at a stand-up comedy event, although I was only in time for the last act-and-a-half, so didn’t quite manage to get my giggle on. I met a lovely couple who were with the MeetUp group – Olga and Andrew – who had actually only met the week before at a walking event! A lovely chat, a taxi home, and I was ready for another good sleep in Spain.

Daily summary:
Hours napping – 2
Times I’ve said ‘this is the best food ever’ – 8
MeetUp people met – 2
Minutes of terrible comedy endured – 8
Moist tomato bread…priceless…

Posted by jenniferhall 03:03 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 20 - More Montpellier adventures with the Liegeois'

Montpellier to Carcessonne

sunny 20 °C

Cette entrée de blog est également écrit en français , ci-dessous.

This morning I woke up at Brigitte and Daniel’s feeling a part of the family, and was treated to croissants, baguettes, and juice, and then a trip out to Sete, the fishing town half an hour to the South West of Montpellier. Amaury had tennis today, so I would have to fend for myself with the translation app, but it is amazing to see how much better Daniel’s English got over the course of a couple of days chatting!

We drove past the vineyard where the Muscat from last night’s dinner originated, and as with many parts of Southern France, the vines are cropped quite short to compensate for the extreme winds (The Mistral) which run through this part of the world. We arrived to a little lookout and went to the roof to admire the view of ‘the pond, the sea, and the sandbar’, looking out to the hills and windfarms, the city of Montpellier, and Palavas. After a brief look inside the church where Brigitte prayed to Mary for her daughter Penelope, we drove onwards back through Sete to the old centre of Montpellier.
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We strolled through the streets, admiring the buildings, and the sporadic artwork of a rogue artist who places bicycles or parts of bicycles on walls around the city. It was quite fun looking out for them like a Where’s Wally puzzle! ‘Au revoir, Montpellier’, until next time.
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We went back to the apartment, and right as I was preparing to make tracks, was invited inside for lunch! Woo hoo! More of the amazing foods from last night, Octopussy pie, duck confit, and…gasp… The. Most. Incredible. Cheese. Sigh….I could eat that cheese all day long. A couple of goats’ cheese, and a few cows, and it was heaven with another amazing red wine, and pink sparkly.

I have truly been indulged, spoilt, and welcomed with open arms by this lovely family, and it truly has been one of the supreme highlights of my travels so far. This is what it’s all about.

After a fond farewell, I headed towards Carcassonne to my Airbnb accommodation for the night, which would be in a little town 10 minutes from Carcassonne called Villegailhenc. The last street or two to arrive at the house were tight little narrow streets with stone calls and right hand turns, and unfortunately (for me!), I accidentally scraped the hire car! Thankfully only on the plastic below the door, hardly noticeable, but it would still cost me €99 (negotiated down from the exorbitant €198 they originally wanted to charge!).

Jean-Marc, my host, was very lovely and welcoming, and the room and private bathroom very comfortable. I took a long nap, before heading out at the recommendation of Jean-Marc to what is meant to be an excellent restaurant in the centre of the old town.

The drive towards Carcassonne in the early sunset is breathtaking – an old medieval walled city on a hill…the thing postcards are made of. I highly recommend if you do come to this part of the world to incorporate at least one evening drive towards the town, and a stroll through at sunset because it is out of this world.

I found the restaurant recommended, but unfortunately they were full – “it is impossible to seat you!” I highly doubt that, given the three empty tables near the bar, but I was happy to leave and move on to another venue. I found a little café around the corner which cooks the local speciality, cassoulet. The cassoulet is made with white kidney beans stewed in pork fats and juices, with a confit duck leg and a pork sausage sitting on top, and it was awesome. This certainly is a picture of medieval cuisine, and very French, and whilst I gave it a red hot go, the density and intensity of flavour won out, and I barely scratched the surface. But it did give me the sleepy full feeling, and I trundled off to the Airbnb for another comfortable night of slumber.

Daily summary:
Bikes found in Montpellier – 3
Dreamy cheeses consumed – 4
New family members acquired – 3
Car incidents – 1
Hours napping – 2

Being outsmarted by a cassoulet….priceless!

Ce matin, je me suis réveillé à Brigitte et Daniel se sentir une partie de la famille, et a été traité pour des croissants, baguettes, et le jus, puis un voyage vers Sète, la ville de pêche d'une demi-heure au sud-ouest de Montpellier. Amaury avait le tennis aujourd'hui, donc il faudrait que je me débrouiller avec l'application de la traduction, mais il est étonnant de voir comment beaucoup mieux de Daniel anglais a au cours de deux jours sur le Chat!

Nous sommes passés devant le vignoble où le Muscat du dîner d'hier soir origine, et comme avec de nombreuses régions du sud de la France, les vignes sont rognées assez courte pour compenser les vents extrêmes (Le Mistral) qui traversent cette partie du monde. Nous sommes arrivés à un petit affût et nous sommes allés sur le toit pour admirer la vue sur «l'étang, la mer, et le banc de sable», donnant sur les collines et les parcs, la ville de Montpellier et Palavas. Après un bref coup d'oeil à l'intérieur de l'église où Brigitte priait Marie pour sa fille Pénélope, nous avons roulé en avant en arrière à travers Sete à l'ancien centre de Montpellier.

Nous nous sommes promenés dans les rues , en admirant les bâtiments, et l'œuvre sporadique d'un artiste escroc qui met des vélos ou des parties de bicyclettes sur les murs autour de la ville . Il était très amusant regardant pour eux comme un cas où Wally puzzle ! « Au revoir , Montpellier ' , jusqu'à la prochaine fois .

Nous sommes retournés à l'appartement , et à droite que je me préparais à faire des traces , a été invité à l'intérieur pour le déjeuner ! Woo hoo ! Plus des aliments étonnants de la nuit dernière , Octopussy pie, confit de canard , et ... gasp ... Le . Les plus. Incroyable. Fromage. Soupir ... .I pouvait manger ce fromage toute la journée . Un couple de fromage de chèvre , et quelques vaches , et il était le ciel avec un autre vin rouge incroyable, et rose brillant .

Je l'ai vraiment été livré , gâté , et accueilli à bras ouverts par cette belle famille , et il a vraiment été un des points forts suprêmes de mes voyages à ce jour. Voilà de quoi il s'agit.

Après un adieu, je me suis dirigé vers Carcassonne à mon logement Airbnb pour la nuit, ce qui serait dans une petite ville à 10 minutes de Carcassonne appelé Villegailhenc. La dernière rue ou deux pour arriver à la maison étaient serrés petites rues étroites avec des appels en pierre et des tours de la main droite, et malheureusement (pour moi!), Je accidentellement gratté la voiture de location! Heureusement que sur le plastique en dessous de la porte, à peine perceptible, mais il serait encore me coûter de 99 € (négocier à la baisse de l'exorbitant € 198 ils voulaient initialement faire payer!).

Jean-Marc, mon hôte, était très agréable et accueillant, et la chambre et salle de bain privée très confortable. Je pris une longue sieste, avant de partir à la recommandation de Jean-Marc à ce qui est censé être un excellent restaurant dans le centre de la vieille ville.

L'entraînement en direction de Carcassonne au début du coucher du soleil est à couper le souffle - une vieille ville médiévale fortifiée sur une colline ... les chose cartes postales sont faites de. Je recommande vivement si vous ne venez à cette partie du monde à incorporer au moins un entraînement du soir vers la ville, et une promenade à travers au coucher du soleil, car il est hors de ce monde.

Je trouve le restaurant recommandé, mais malheureusement, ils étaient pleins - «il est impossible de vous accueillir!" Je doute fortement que, étant donné les trois tables vides près du bar, mais je suis heureux de partir et de passer à un autre lieu. J'ai trouvé un petit café au coin qui cuit la spécialité locale, cassoulet. Le cassoulet est fait avec les haricots blancs compotés dans les graisses de porc et de jus, avec une jambe confit de canard et une saucisse de porc assis sur le dessus, et il était génial. Cela est certainement une image de la cuisine médiévale, et très français, et tandis que je lui ai donné un coup rouge chaud, la densité et l'intensité de la saveur a gagné, et je peine gratté la surface. Mais il m'a donné le sentiment plein sommeil, et je roulait hors du Airbnb pour une autre nuit comfortable.

Résumé quotidien :
Vélos trouvés à Montpellier - 3
fromages Dreamy consommés - 4
Les nouveaux membres de la famille acquises - 3
incidents automobiles - 1
Heures sieste - 2

Être outsmarted par un cassoulet ... .Inestimable!

Posted by jenniferhall 02:40 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 19 - I've been adopted in Montpellier!

Montpellier and my amazing time with the Liegeois family

18 °C

Cette entrée de blog est écrit en anglais et en français (ci-dessous).

Woke up to a slow morning and a great breakfast of croissants baguette, and jam and my beautiful accommodation outside L’Isle sur la Sorgue. I decided to have lunch at a randomly chosen little town on the way to Montpellier, and picked a place called Uzes, which turned out to be absolutely charming.

It was an amazing little old town (like so many around Provence), so had a little stroll to find food, and bumped into a beautiful hat shop. You all know how much I love a good hat! I tried on a dozen, and found two spectacular, totally unique hats which I loved, but decided on the smaller. Fortunately (for my credit card), and unfortunately (for the lovely shop assistant), the credit card machine wouldn’t work so I walked out of there without my hat…but Paris is imminent, and I’ve been assured that I’ll find more than I bargained for there!

The streets were somewhat deserted, being off the beaten tourist path a little, and I was struggling to find something for lunch, until I stumbled on the main square. It was a perfect, warm, blue skies-and-sunshine type of day, and the square had a fountain surrounded by beautiful tall trees which made for an image like a postcard. I ordered some moussaka and wine, and gushed to a handsome man back home about how beautiful life was, on a beautiful day, in Provence, with the sound of French chatter around me (and a street sweeper).
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I left with a smile on my face to Montpellier to meet up with Daniel and Brigitte, who I’d met in Florence the other week. On arriving, I met their son (and amazing translator!) Amaury, and was taken to Palavas, the beachside summer holiday vacation spot, via the estuary where I saw real live wild pink flamingos! We went up the lookout tower to see the view of the greater Montpellier area. A local biannual tradition in Palavas is ‘the running of the bulls’, and it was on today! A group of seven horsemen (including a couple of ladies) trot along in a V shape, with a few small bulls running in the middle. The local teenagers and kids run behind the spectacle trying to get to touch the bulls, while the crowd safely watches behind the [relatively recently enforced] barriers. They ran up and down a few times whilst we had Sangria, and then it was over. Time to head back to Daniel and Brigitte’s apartment for a home cooked meal.
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We went back to the apartment for laughs and translated conversation and the best [and only!] home cooked meal I’ve had in France! And it truly was amazing. Seafood nibbles from Sete to start (octopus, prawns, squid, and mussels), and a slightly spicy prawn dish which I can barely describe the awesome-ness of which Brigitte woke early this morning to make. Entrée (I know, I thought the nibbles were entrée too!), was a homemade octopussy pie with a bit of a kick (Daniel kept calling them octopussies which I thought was hilarious!), followed by a main course of shredded confit duck topped with creamy mashed potatoes, cream, and parmesan. Phenomenal! Dessert was rum and raisin icecream, marinated strawberries, and homemade Chantilly cream. So much beautiful wine was opened too, muscat, red, sparkly pink, and I tried two local cocktails. A Royal Kir (cherry liquor with real Champagne, otherwise it’s just called a ‘Kir’), and something with Anise in it which was far too liquoricey for me! I also won Jess’ photo challenge, which was to get a photo of myself being kissed by two French men whilst drinking a Kir cocktail. Mission accomplished!
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A very comfortable and deep nights’ sleep awaits…

Daily Summary
Hats purchased – 0
Hats regretted not purchasing – 2
Number of bulls seen – 6
Amazing local wines tried – 3
Photo challenges won – 1
Feeling like a part of the family…priceless!

Réveillé à un lent matin et un excellent petit déjeuner de croissants baguette et de la confiture et mon beau logement en dehors de L' Isle sur la Sorgue . Je décidé de déjeuner dans une petite ville choisie au hasard sur le chemin de Montpellier , et choisi un endroit appelé Uzes , qui se révèle être absolument charmant .

Il était un peu vieille ville incroyable ( comme beaucoup autour de Provence) , avait donc une petite promenade pour trouver de la nourriture , et heurté un beau magasin de chapeaux . Vous savez tous combien j'aime un bon chapeau ! J'ai essayé sur une douzaine, et a trouvé deux spectaculaires chapeaux, totalement uniques que j'aimais , mais a décidé sur le plus petit . Heureusement (pour ma carte de crédit ) , et malheureusement ( pour la jolie boutique assistant) , la machine de carte de crédit ne fonctionne donc je suis sorti de là sans mon chapeau ... mais Paris est imminente, et je l'ai été assuré que je ll trouver plus que je négocié pour là!

Les rues étaient un peu déserte , étant hors des sentiers battus touristiques un peu, et je luttais pour trouver quelque chose pour le déjeuner , jusqu'à ce que je suis tombé sur la place principale . Il était parfait, chaud , bleu ciel type de jour et - soleil , et la place avait une fontaine entourée de beaux grands arbres qui ont fait pour une image comme une carte postale . J'ai commandé un certain moussaka et du vin, et a jailli à un bel homme à la maison sur la façon dont la belle vie était , un beau jour , en Provence , avec le son de bavardage français autour de moi ( et un balayeur de rue ) .

Je suis parti avec un sourire sur mon visage à Montpellier pour rencontrer Daniel et Brigitte , qui je l'avais rencontré à Florence , l'autre semaine . En arrivant , j'ai rencontré leur fils ( et traducteur incroyable! ) Amaury , et a été prise à Palavas , le lieu de vacances pour les vacances d'été en bord de mer , en passant par l'estuaire où je l'ai vu de vrais vivants flamants roses sauvages ! Nous sommes allés jusqu'à la tour de guet pour voir la vue de la grande région de Montpellier . Une tradition biannuelle locale à Palavas est la course de taureaux » , et il était aujourd'hui ! Un groupe de sept cavaliers ( dont un couple de dames ) trot le long en forme de V , avec quelques petits taureaux en cours d'exécution dans le milieu. Les adolescents et les enfants locaux courent derrière le spectacle essayant de toucher les taureaux , tandis que la foule regarde en toute sécurité derrière les barrières [ relativement récemment forcées ] . Ils couru monter et descendre plusieurs fois alors que nous avions Sangria , et puis il était fini. Temps de retourner à l'appartement de Daniel et Brigitte pour un repas maison .

Nous sommes retournés à l'appartement pour rire et la conversation traduit et le meilleur [et seulement!] La maison repas cuisiné J'ai eu en France! Et il était vraiment incroyable. quartets de fruits de mer de Sete pour commencer (poulpes, crevettes, calmars et moules), et un plat de crevettes légèrement épicée que je peux à peine décrire la awesome-ness qui Brigitte réveillé tôt ce matin à faire. Entrée (je sais, je pensais que les amuse-gueules étaient Entree aussi!), Était une tarte octopussy maison avec un peu d'un coup (Daniel continuait à appeler eux octopussies que je pensais était hilarant!), Suivi d'un plat principal déchiqueté canard confit surmonté avec pommes de terre en purée crémeuse, crème et parmesan. Phénoménal! Le dessert était rhum et raisin glace, fraises marinées et crème Chantilly maison. Tellement beau vin a été ouvert aussi, muscat, rouge, rose brillant, et j'ai essayé deux cocktails locaux. A Royal Kir (liqueur de cerise avec du vrai champagne, sinon il est juste appelé «kir»), et quelque chose avec Anise dans ce qui était beaucoup trop réglissée pour moi! J'ai aussi gagné le défi de la photo de Jess, qui était d'obtenir une photo de moi-même embrassée par deux hommes français en buvant un cocktail Kir. Mission accomplie!

Un sommeil de nuits très confortables et profondes attend ...

Résumé quotidien
Chapeaux achetés - 0
Chapeaux regretté de ne pas acheter - 2
Nombre de taureaux vu - 6
vins locaux étonnants ont essayé - 3
défis photo gagné - 1
Se sentir comme une partie de la famille ... inestimable!

Posted by jenniferhall 02:21 Comments (0)

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