Monday, August 30, 2010
Matt and I have been on the road for the past couple of weeks. We took a ferry with the car again from Dover UK to Calais France with no destination in mind except that we had to get to Spain by the 22nd to meet Dan (Matt's Pa.) We drove from the docks straight down into the heart of Paris, it seemed like the most logical first step. Paris, however, was a mad house as you can probably imagine, all the streets are one ways and the majority of them don't go into the center. For every five heading out of town there's one going in. Though after a few tries we were heading promptly towards the Eiffel tower. On route we went quite a few tourist attractions but the most memorable would be the arc de triomphe. That has to be the scariest driving experience i have ever had, forget any accidents. It is a HUGE round-about, with about 40+ cars all shoving their way though the traffic. There are no traffic lights, no stop signs and no lines on the asphalt dictating where the lanes are. Basically a destruction derby but with out hitting anyone. Apparently you just go and so i did, almost getting hit 3 times in the process but I'm still here, and i don't think i'll be heading back past that thing in a car again. We made it safely to the Eiffel tower where by some miracle we found free parking about two blocks away. I have to say the Eiffel tower is much uglier than one would expect but also a lot more powerful, it has this rustic charm that will win you over in the end. It was built in 1889 and makes one think of the wild west (wild france?) It resembles a more carefully constructed oil rig or some thing. It's defiantly worth seeing... AND every hour or so the whole thing lights up with ferry lights twinkling away in the night, very magical.
After a short visit we left Paris, we had no where to sleep and didn't much fancy setting out tent up in the hustle and bustle of Paris. We'll go back and do the museums soon enough, the Monalisa is waiting for me... along with Jim Morrison!
We head down the road at 120km per hour, sound fast huh? Making good time with a new destination in mind, Lyon. The first night we pulled off the free way in to a pleasant little rest stop where we made a bed in the back of the car and slept very comfortably, Matt and i both have a whole new respect for rest stops. The one negative thing about them is their toilets, i haven't never been in such a uncivilized toilet. I know they are out there in lots of countries but france, the place where they invented bedays? The toilet consists of a whole in the ground and two grip pads for your feet. Matt tried it out so he could tell you more but all i have to say is leave it to the french right. hehe
The next day we head off the main road and drove though a few little towns (Auxilla?????etc) and found a serene little lake with a camp site along one edge of it with a few tipis and yurts as well. We payed to stay there and set up our tent, and put our toes in the lake. That night we went off in search of somewhere to eat and found ourselves in a little restaurant owned by a french couple. It was the type of place where you sit for hours having a total of 5 courses and a few bottles of wine though me and Matt were not up for that. So we poured over the menu not understanding a it at all. Matt ordered the chefs choice (not much room for vegetarianism in france) but luckily ended up with salmon and rice. I ordered a salad that i believed had mushrooms and cheese and toast with it, to my dismay it arrived with raw beef and duck pate. Honestly it was all quite yummy! I tried to all of mine but at least it wasn't snails i guess. Or maybe i would have preferred them to raw beef.
A few days later we found ourselves in the lovely Lyon, a beautiful city in central france. There we stayed with a good friend of mine Jake Russel. When we got there Matt and I spent a few hours wondering around the city, waitin for Jake to get off work. We wondered up the Rhone river where there was a pluthara of entertainment: massive house boats parked all along the walk way that serve food and drinks, two skate bowls built into the river walk, a pool complete with a water slide, a play ground for kids, flower beds bursting with color, lawns and trees and lovely benches, and a creek for paddleing (the roan is a beast of a river, not one you go in.) The city it self has fountains strun about that one can play in, of course full of children and few over heating dogs boucing about in the water. That night Jake took us to quite a strange (but really nice) little restaurant where they served toast! It looked like you grandma's house... if you were french. But we each ate a peice of toast with an assortment of things on it, pears, cheese, honey, tomato's etc. and enjoyed it.
Our second day in Lyon Jake became our official tour guide. We went to the best ice cream place in the city, and the best i've ever had (homemade) where we each got our own luxurious sunday. After we walked though the old town and saw the opra, the gay club (they actually wouldn't let me in,) and the passages of the resistaunce. Lyon was one of the few cities to have a resistauce against the Nazis, they built little tunnels in between the builings so that people could move about undetected, very cool story. But last and not least we tackled the most massive staircase EVER! I can't really even decribeit but 1/2 way up you legs were burning and shaking. Our tour guide took it like a real local and ran up a good portion of it though i was a bit worried he was going to have a heart attack after. There was a reason to go up of couse, on the top of the mountain over looking all of Lyon was a magnificent church, with a gold virgin mary perched on the top. It was well worth the stairs and i would do it again in a heart beat.
On the way out of Lyon, heading down to Barcelona Jake took us to a little winery in his home town called Bully there, to our surprise, we were given a full tour of the winery and the storage cellares. No one was about and so we got to sneek around and see the process from grapes into one container and then another to wine. And then to the huge tanks of wine being stored underground. Good french wine expirience! At the end of it all we tried it all of course... not quite but a few different bottles. My favorate would have to be the red sparkleing wine, amazing! We would out with about 5 more bottle then we had intended but now we stop along the side of the road and watch the sun set and drink a bottle of wine so i can really complane.
We drove straight that day from Lyon to Spanish border and then woke up the next morning and hit the road, it was the 22nd and Dan was flying in! We were making good speed heading towards the airport but the road signs in Barcelona were not up to par and we had no map. Doubting of course we turned around, after 10min we stoped for directions. Thank god we were in spain where both Matt and I can communicate on a basic leavel. We got sent stright back where we come from origionaly. Didn't get lost again though we didn't quite make it on time either. By some miricle we intersepted Dan in the airport and all has gone smoothly since.
In Barcelona we were staying on La Rambla, a crazy scene just around the corner from Plaza Rural. Active night life and excillent food and 100rds of street proformers, from Alien (complete with a predator head) to cat woman and a rasata man. Matt found one of his (oh so sought after) falafal huts! We checked out La Sagra De Familia, the most amazing cathedral ever, designed by Gaudi. It's construction was started in 1883 and will be finished in 2026 possibly. We didn't go in because the constuction work was off putting and the line raped 1/2 was around the building in the blazing sun; but i'll be back to see it when it's done for sure. We also went to Casa Mila, an apparent designed by Gaudi, there we went in and looked around. It seemed to get stranger and stranger the closer you got to the top and the roof terrice it's self was an amazing undulating shape with spires sticking out.
After Barcelona Dan, Matt and I hit the road again... heading off to the Tomatina in Bunol. A massive tomato fight in a tiny city with people from contrys world wide coming to join in. There I turned 22 (happy birthday me) and almost got stomped to death at that ripe age. The festival was maddness (a controled riot basically,) we threw a few tomato's and then decided to jump into the action and decended down the street not knowing what we were getting ourselves into. The crowd thickened and it was wall to wall people on every side pushing and shoving with all their might; some trying to get out and others trying to get in. I got sucked off into some other direction and Matt and Dan were pulling their selves through the sea of people to try and catch me. I lost my shoe but was reunited with the boys and we made it out of there alive after a good scare. The entire crowd was paniced and if you fell on the river of tomato sause runing below your feet you were deffinatly in dager of not getting up again. So we had our peice of the action, and Matt still wants to go and run with the bulls. I wont be joining him but i think he'll be safer with out me to worry about.
And now.... We're off to Rome and more to come on the colosseum later.
Posted by Matt OBannon and Nima Sinclair at 8:24 PM