Waltzing Matilda French Style

Trip Start Apr 08, 2007
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Trip End Dec 22, 2007


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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Guest blog writer time again, This time it's my brother Mick who's taken over the reigns....Over to you Micky Boy...

Off the plane from Madrid to Barcelona, claim the bags from baggage claim and what do Sofia and I see? A great big Aussie bloke in a Wallabies jersey and 2 hot blonde Aussie chicks, with a video camera, of course, filming our every move!
So it was in the car, bound for St. Chinian, wine capital of France. On the way, lots of Aussie banter for the first time in a while for me. Lots of catching up with Pete and Mandy since I last saw them in the north of Spain 3 months prior, and with mum, who I haven't seen since I left Oz. And, of course, lots and lots of questions for Sofe about Spain and her linguistic skills, which she was trying to answer while also, having a siesta.
We arrived in St. Chinian a few hours later to our accommodation, Mum, Pete and Mandy in a beautiful 3 storey house 2 mins form the village centre and markets (Yippee! Shopping!), and Sofe and myself in a great little B & B about 4 mins from the village centre. Of course, Pete realizing that we were receiving breakfast every morning, and he wasn't, proceeded to tell our landlord that he will be knocking on the door at 8.15 every morning ready for bacon and eggs!

The next morning were the Sunday markets, which everyone was very excited about! Being a small village, the markets were not big by any stretch of the imagination, but there was a lot of fresh produce, and some various shoes, clothes and jewellery. As usual with the Hutcho's, we came home with a stack of food and not much else!

After struggling to bed the night before, several kilo's heavier, we headed to a town called Roquebrun. The town was set on a hill, overlooking a beautiful river with an old bridge to drive across to access the village. We decided to picnic under the bridge by the stream first as of course, we were all starving! Halfway through our lunch we were joined by 20 or so ducks, which were tame enough to eat out of our hands.
After lunch, we walked through the town and up the hill to the "Jardin Mediterranean" gardens, which were full of Cactus', Succulents', Agaves and other desert plants. At the top of the hill, the view of the river and the surrounding valley of magnificent grape vines and olive trees was incredible.
Total number of photos so far: 442.

Tuesday we went back in time, to the medieval era! Carcassonne is a town with a massive castle perched on a hill above the modern day town. Pete and I had a jousting competition and also a sword fight (mainly for the kids video) while we were there. The funny thing was, we had no horses, no jousts and no swords. Pete won both convincingly. Forever the big brother. The castle was quite incredible, with a great big moat where there used to be crocodiles, a drawbridge and lots of fortress watchtowers.
Total number of photos so far:783.

The next day was a mellow day spent cruising through the village of St. Chinian itself. It's not very big, about 1.5km from end to end. It's a beautiful town with a little stream running through the centre, which is home to many trout. There's a small church, a few pubs, a few café's and a supermarket. It's very picturesque and very friendly.
Total number of photos so far:974.
Thursday dawned and what happens in St. Chinian on Thursday morning? Markets! So it was back to the markets for more food, but this time also some shoes for Mandy ("There not as white as they were this morning, Pete"), a basket for Sofe and some shoes for me. After the markets, we were off to Beziers. Beziers is where the Canal Du Midi has a sequence of locks for the boats to move through a drop of 21 metres of water level. It is also a place where the Canal Du Midi goes across a bridge over the River Orb. Quite spectacular, so we had a picnic by the river and bridge, and played Frisbee. Stupidly, Pete and I forgot to buy beers to cool down for beer o'clock, so we went and bought warm beers to put in the freezer when we got home, and while we were waiting for them to cool down...Frisbee! In the main park in St. Chinian. Game on!
Total number of photos so far:1262.
Friday is a cruisy day so Pete can chill before dropping me and Sofe at Toulouse tomorrow and then continue tomorrow to the top of France. So far, we've eaten breakfast, had a coffee, eaten lunch and while I sit and type, Pete and Mandy are chilling reading books, and writing in diaries. It's a tough life. Today, Mum pointed out to Sofe and me that on their front door it says "pas de pub s.v.p." which translates as please, this is not a pub. Sofia thought about this for a few seconds, and then translated the real meaning to mum, which is please, no junk mail. Close, Suzy!

That night we went to the pub to watch France play Ireland in the World Cup. Another group of Aussies were in town too so the Aussie representation had swelled to 9. But we were outnumbered 10 to 1 by the French. They sung their anthem with pride then cheered their team onto victory. Our presence didn't go unnoticed though as me and Pete had a few and started getting a bit rowdy too. One French guy broke into song with the start of Waltzing Matilda and the Aussie contingent backed him up with gusto. A bloody great night.

So that's my little week with Mum, Pete, Mandy and Sofe in France. Tomorrow for us, back to Madrid, for Mum, Pete and Mandy, more wee wee French fried adventures.....stay tuned.
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