France Day 21 - Exploring Brittany and St. Briac
Trip Start Jun 25, 2008
77Trip End Sep 01, 2008
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We pile up the car, and head out on the biggest, and last, road trip we have planned for our home exchange time
First stop, Dinan. We arrive without much problem (... well, little Ella claimed she had to go to the bathroom, so we pulled off, drove ten minutes away from the highway to a toilet, only to have her do zilcho ... ) .. we were a tad late to our 1pm reservations at La Fleur de Sel in Dinan. We walk in and are surprised to find ourselves in an upscale restaurant. Francois had mentioned it was phenomenal food at good prices, so I was a bit surprised to find that the standard menu choices ranged from 35 euros to 50 euros. "Perhaps he meant it was well priced considering the food ...", I thought to myself. No bother. We were in, and seated and ready to enjoy the feast. ... The restaurant was small. Only five tables in our room, and another three in a smaller back room. The menu was not just French, it was fancy French cuisine, ... so it may as well have been Greek to Janice and I. We understood nothing. Thankfully, Dinan is a very touristy town, popular with the Brits and we found that our waitress was able to provide a very solid translation of the menu options
After lunch, we waddled around the old town of Dinan exploring the old ramparts, the historic buildings and roads, and window shopping with the other tourists. The weather was scheduled to be horrible this weekend, heavy rain storms ... which is actually why I cancelled our reservations in Dinan (we were going to stay here two nights). It turns out the weather is bad, but not horrible. Windy with a tiny bit of sprinkles ... just enough to keep the massive crowds home. So, it worked out just perfectly.
Had some fun with the camera's timer mode trying to get a picture of the family in the park. The first photo looked like my leg was broken at the ankle, so I tried another one ... that went off too early (you can see Ella looking back as I said, "Oh no!") ... The next one, the wind blew it and we all almost stepped in dog poop ... and the fourth one was PERFECT! ... also had some fun playing with the continuous shoot mode. ...
One bad thing in Dinan
We then leave Dinan and have a series of unfortunate navigational issues. The first is my mistake 100% and it costs us a good 45 minutes. ... As we left the parking lot, I saw a LOOOONNNGGG bumper to bumper lane going to the right that appeared be people heading IN to the city. We wanted to LEAVE, so I hopped in the left bound lane and drove about five minutes while Janice arranged the GPS, which eventually told us we were going the wrong way. DOH! I bust a u-turn, and fourty minutes later we were right back where we had started in the parking lot. Horrible traffic. ... Ten minutes more, and we were finally out of Dinan. Then, Janice made a mistake that cost us two hours! Double DOH! The town we were to meet Francois and his family in is St. Briac. Janice had looked at the map earlier and saw St. Brieuc. Same general area on the map of France, ... and she figured maybe Francois had misspelled it. Also, strangely, St. Briac wasn't coming up on the GPS. So, we accidentally headed to St. Brieuc (we later discovered it is pronounced 'St. Broo' because it has roots in the native language of Brittany) ... and after calling Francois to come find us in the town hall near the huge cathedral (there is no huge cathedral in St
Francois and Zelia immediately welcome us in to their summer home. This is Francois' mother's home and she has (a bit begrudgingly we find out later) let Francois use the home this week for hosting a gathering of their close friends for a summer week of fun. The place was built in the 1800's and has all sorts of creaks and groans in every corner that tells you it is 100% genuine. This is an old French manor, a place that held servants just one generation ago. Its beautiful ... with a large, gorgeous backyard ... all full of character and history. Francois and Zelia are super friendly, and equally genuine as the home ... just our age, and also with two young children, 4yrs old and 5 months. Their children are very cute.
After a quick tour of the house, we dive in to a FEAST of delectables that they've prepared for us in the afternoon. The 'aperitif': Pastis and wine to drink, a bread loaf with a squash of some sort and goat cheese (they tell us it is very typical to have a bread loaf with all sorts of things mixed in, whatever is fresh or lying around the kitchen), crackers with three different types of spreads: tuna, olives with anchovies, and another one that I didn't get to try!, ..
But, as good as the food was, the highlight of the evening was starting a new friendship with Francois and Zelia. Although we all planned on getting to bed early, we ended up talking past midnight ... laughing our butts off at times, talking about serious world issues at times, and other times laughing at how drunk I was. ... Both Francois and Zelia speak English fabulously. Zelia is an English teacher, and she has the most unique mix of accents I've ever heard. Being so close to the UK, its undeniable that there are some words and phrases that she uses that are particular to the UK ... but there is also a heavy dose of Aussie in her speech as well. Several times throughout the night, I'd interrupt her teasingly with "A dingo ate my baby!!" ..
To bed we go. Another great day in the books.
The kindness of strangers has been a wonderful thing this entire European trip. I really feel like I've learned something life changing about social interaction. Maybe I'll blog about it more in another entry ... but its something along the lines of "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.". ... ... take that and apply it to cool, neat people. ... If I'm walking around all the time in some sort of self absorbed, self sufficient, who-needs-you-anyhow manner, .... I will never meet the type of people I desire to grow friendships with. ... But, if I approach each interaction with every person I meet as a possible new adventure, ... who knows what will come? .... Who knows how many awesome, neat people I've missed out on getting to know in good ol' Sacramento because I'm too busy, or too .... assuming ... or judgemental ... or ??
Ok. I'm tired. That's it for now.