Thursday, September 13, 2012

France 2011: La Roque-Gageac and Beynac

On our first full day in the Dordogne, we visited La Rogue-Gageac and Beynac. Since we rolled into town in the evening, I quite literally had no idea of the visual feast that awaited us just around the bend from our hotel.

Enjoying paninis riverside. 

It was supposed to be cool (it was anything but), so we didn't pack any shorts or bathing suits for canoeing. One of my biggest regrets of the trip. The Dordogne River was crystal clear and SHALLOW! My favorite type of water! :)

We ventured to the top of the town and paid 9 EU each to enter the Jardi de Exotique, which turned out to be a two block long row of different bamboo varieties. #forreals

We also found some Andy-sized leaves!

There was some good people-watching in the this man. Who wasn't running or practicing ballet. You should have seen the front of his pants. #blush

Next we headed up the road to Beynac, which was, for me, one of the greatest surprises of the trip.

Taking the picture below still didn't phase me as to what I was up against.

This was actually Andy's position for most of the trip...sitting on the side or in shade waiting for me to take photos. But, he most likely put two-and-two together at the bottom of the hill and was saving energy like a hibernating bear.

I loved these 200+ year old roofs, which are now apparently, a novelty for the wealthy French.

At this point, the grade was pretty weak.

You can't swing a cat without hitting a castle.

I sent Andy back to the car with my purse to feed the meter, while I hung back and took 54 photos in eight minutes. Once again, I had no idea what was awaiting me around the (very steep) bend.

That is a real sidewalk. And this is when I realized that my shoes sucked.

See that little gray door on the left near the center of the photograph? Look how low it is and it's just about 150 feet from where I am standing to take this photo!

Andy overheard some German man saying in English, "Man, good for that big guy for making it this far." as he walked by him.

Seriously, the view CONSTANTLY got better.

This is what all of your self-portraits look like when there is a nine-inch height difference. We have approximately 13 versions of this shot from throughout the trip.

And, at the top, we found Château de Beynac!

It was creepy and hulking, just like a castle should be. And it had Andy-sized doors! First the leaves, now the doors? We should move to France. (As you can see, he's a good sport, as his height amuses me much more than it does him.)

If you've seen one mediocre vacation photo of a castle, you've seen them all. Here are a few of my fave from the inside.

I had Andy go downstairs and take my picture at the top. While I was waiting for him, a tour guide in a beret came out and chased me around the top spanking me with these weird sticks and laughing. And I have no idea why. Oddly, this is the second time that I've been spanked in a castle. The last time was by a geisha in Japan, which is not nearly as dirty as it sounds. I just put my shoes on too soon.

I am installing this set-up if I ever have to park on the street in the city again.

 There was a really interesting-looking cemetery just outside of the castle. I always like to photograph cemeteries to see if ghosts will show up later. (Ha! It *could* happen someday.) I always say a prayer, because it feels like I'm infringing on their privacy to be looking at all.

We wrapped up this magical day with a meal at a Michelin star restaurant back in our little home base, La Belle Etoile. It was spectacular. You couldn't avoid foie gras, as it was literally served with every single dish. I tried a little and decided that a little goes a long least for me!


Monday, September 10, 2012

France 2011: ORD > CDG > BVE

Last Labor Day week, we took a jet plane to Paris for 10 days of adventures and memory-making. I've been playing, "This time last year, we were..." in my head all week.

Because I always love reading people's travel posts, I thought that I'd share some recaps from our trip - even though they're a year overdo. (You can see our album in its entirety here if you're interested.)

We left Chicago on Monday evening and arrived in Paris on Tuesday morning, then hopped in a cab to Gare d'Austerlitz. Actually, I mispronounced Gare d'Austerlitz, so we first went to Gare de l'est and then went to d'Austerlitz 65 EU later.

We had a 4.50 hour wait for train to Brive, so I busied myself by pacing and taking photos while Andy watched the bags and wondered how I talked him into waiting over four hours to take a three hour train ride after an eight and a half hour flight.

My first meal in Paris was sour Eiffel Tower gummies. 

We took a train to Brive and drove to our inn in Vezac. Every turn was straight out of House Hunters International. It was awesome.

I had printed Google maps for all of our drives, but managed to get lost the moment that we turned out of the train station and had to bust out my phone. The drive should have taken about an hour and a half, but I kept getting distracted by the scenery and landing us "off of the purple line."

Best.Sign.Ever. Eighteen hours later, we arrived in the Dordogne!

We checked into our room and ran down the road to search for some food. We found one place willing to serve us. I couldn't read the menu and ordered the only word that I could recognize -- "jambon." When our meal arrived, Andy asked what I got and I replied, "I don't know." But, given that Eiffel Tower gummies were my only meal since the a.m., I didn't care. And it was delicious. Andy took a bite at the end and said, "Oh, it's duck." F. Me. Apparently I eat duck.

Exhausted Andy at dinner.