As we prepare to leave France tomorrow, it occurs to me that I’ve yet to write a holiday wrap up. Without it, you might think that the very expensive Christmas chicken (see last post) was the end of our time in food heaven. No, we continued to consume copious amounts of cheese, bread, wine and chocolate for several more weeks.
A few days after Christmas, our friends Helen and Rob ““ the owners of the wonderful apartment we lived in ““ joined us in Carcassonne with friends Vick (1) and Vick (2) and Mike. They flew into Barcelona and made the four-hour drive to Carcassonne as the cost of car rental is so much cheaper in Spain than in France. Mike flew into the Carcassonne airport on Ryan Air ““ the Southwest Airlines of Europe that provides really cheap fares in much of the continent.
It was wonderful to spend New Year’s Eve with such a great group. Helen was convinced that there would be a spectacular fireworks display at the medieval city and castle. It would have been something else to see but: 1. It was pouring rain; 2. No one was out on the streets; and 3. Evidently, this is not the occasion when the city puts on a big fireworks display.
We ended up under a (leafless) tree for shelter, looking at the castle across the river and counting down to zero. Rob popped the champagne bottle, we all had a quick drink and then walked back to the apartment saying “Bonne AnnÃ©e“ to anyone and everyone on the street or peeking out of their windows. If I grumbled all the way to the fireworks (not believing it would take place), Helen grumbled all the way back to the apartment (not believing it didn’t take place).
Back home, we sang Auld Lang Syne with arms linked (twice), a new tradition for me that sealed a lovely friendship. We then danced, drank wine, ate a lot ““ the usual New Year’s Eve activities. Rob cooked more amazing meals than any one person should while on vacation but he enjoyed doing it and we really enjoyed eating them. A master in the kitchen.
The last few days of their visit were spent finishing up some of the details of readying the apartment for renting. On their very last hour, Helen photographed the entire apartment and helped us make a list of the things we could do for them (staining furniture, painting baseboards, etc.) to repay their generosity in letting us live there for almost a month.
On one of our last days in southern France, we went to Narbonne where my favorite French signer ““ Charles TrenÃ©t ““ was born and grew up. You may be familiar with some of his songs from the 1940s and 1950s but his most famous was ‘La Mer’ (also known as ‘Sailing‘ and ‘Beyond The Sea’ there are over 400 different recordings of it in various languages). It’s also been used in many movies (among others, Steve Martin’s L.A. Story and Mr. Bean’s Holiday).
All of France was great and we can’t wait to return ““ next time, in the spring ““ to see Carcassonne, Narbonne, the Pyrenees mountains, the Canal du Midi, and Paris in flower and with warmer weather.
Click on the photos to see larger & full image (new window will open):
WHAT’S NEXT: Most of you probably skip this part as you figure it never changes ““ or not much. Those of you who have been reading it are likely confused or, at least, amazed at how often it changes! Well, we now have our plane tickets all the way through to Wenzhou, China so things are not going to change (I think): first, we fly to Bangkok and then to southern beach town Krabi to spend a week at Ao Thang; then a week in Bangkok, a week in Hong Kong (for visa process) and then we move to our new home in Wenzhou by early February.
NOTE: My “This Expat Life” & “Writing on Wednesdays” blogs are on hiatus until we settle down in Wenzhou in February 2010. Between now and then, I’ll be writing only about Baby Boomers Traveling. Hope you enjoy coming along with us.
If you would like to click on the envelope next to the word ” at the top of the left-hand menu. You will receive notification by e-mail every time this blog is updated. I solemnly swear to never sell, trade or give away your information to anyone!