Monday, November 23, 2009

while I was away - part 1

ok..not sure you care about it, but thought I should update the journal.

almost 4weeks back, I went on 9days road trip in south west France with a friend and wanted to write about the experience but it’s so beyond words I kept postponing to post. And I don’t want to write about place to see, things to do since I can’t do better job than folks at lonely plant, tripadvisor, virtualtourists.

Our whole trip was constructed & executed under a week. often the best trips are those which was arranged in last minute. after couple of mail exchanges, me & my friend finalized route map and after couple of hours call time, we finalized hotel bookings. that's it, all done. off we went.

start point- Bordeaux airport, that's were me & my friend met. hired citroen C2, off we go... on the way, we wanted to buy some stuff. we saw carefour and with all the excitement without knowing, we were driving on walking area..;) trip started on perfect note. Our tom-tom(GPRS) name was rooth (its a she..although its driving direction device..;) I am told its because of her voice and so we named our car James(he) just to give her(rooth) some excitement about the trip.

first stop- saint emillion, checked into to big hotel(with not so big rooms..setting the expectation for the whole trip). had nice dinner with local wine.. walking around in moon light was good fun. next day we visited vineyard Chateau La Couspaude run by friend-of-friend's...understanding wine making processes, tasting merlot red,..fabulous and touring underworld chruch.

mr.nice vineyard guy recommended a pitshop at st.Pardon to watch waves from sea thru river famous among local surfers. but we waited for almost an hour but no waves to be seen. we moved out. it seems wave wasn't that big anyways.

next- Cognac,. another tiny town and nice hotel. next day- turned out to be the best experience. via some random friend’s connection, we got royal tour of Hennessey cognac house. Understanding cognac blending process and seeing vintage(1900, 1934, 1800..)ya, 1800 vintage(and best is yet to come.) Met Mr. Maurice Hennessey family member of Richard Hennessey, he explained us history Hennessey ads and talking about Hennessey business during french revolutions & world wars. he took us to Hennessey guest house(/wonderful castle) for very nice lunch and signed off with Fine Cognac bottle/gift bag. off to next destination with evening cafe stop at Brantome.

next stop- PĂ©rigueux another tiny town. interesting story here is- McD is banned in the city(which I think is good). and we met another random local friend(of a friend..of a friend). snowing us around and making fun of our sense of architecture (names & brands). Had nice dinner with some strange conversations about capitalism v socialism, life's expectations, how much money required for retirement. needless to say some misunderstanding & assumptions, finally all got clarified.

Next day- based on his recommendation we did pitstops visiting toute la grotte de Lascaux, cave paints of pre-historic men. Well another excitement was- gas was running out. James(our car) had Gas for 80kms, we found one gas stations but I said we can re-fill in next one. And then, heart was beating little/tiny bit faster..wishing & hoping to find gas stations. and we finally did found one after 73km..;)

next day- heading towards Rocamadour. road was blocked due to construction work. But Instead of finding alternate route, I did the brave Indian act, just moved the block sign and drive thru to reach our destinations.;) our stopover was Rocamadour, lovely hilly town.

next was long driving day..visiting Toulouse and reaching Biarritz, another beautiful coastal town. evening we decided to give james(our car)rest. walked sea side. had sangria watching surfers...after nice dinner & drinks. we thought we could walk back to hotel. but ofcourse it had to happen..we got lost..;) called a friend in london to google us the directions..we ended-up in local bar and asked the guy to call taxi for us..;) safely reaching the hotel.

next day..trip to san Sebastian Spanish town of Basque country. most of the day was washed way. so we ended-up having nice Spanish lunch with sangria and ice cream in the rain.
on the way back to biarritz, pit stop at St Jean de Luz bought tasting famous macarons at Maison Adam.

next day- relaxing breakfast at biarittz. pit stop to dune du plya - largest sand dune in Europe. Thankfully no rain so we could have good view from the top and did sand surfing to get down.

reaching our next stop-over at arcachon, another nice coastal retirement town(translation= full of old people). We did long walk in the beach and had nice dinner & wine.
next chateau doisy-daene, a family run classified vineyard(run by friend of..a friend). tasting nice sweet white sauternes..2009 vintage straight from barrel.

Day ended in Bordeaux- it was good bye time to james after 1820km drive. kissed good bye to my friend..

I spent the night walking around Bordeaux city center and took train to Paris next day early morning to met another friend. she recently relocated back to Paris from Luxembourg. so my final day- walking around in streets of Paris. wonderful lunch, watching street artists, evening at Basilique du Sacre Coeur, sitting in steps listening to street musicians who were taking turns to amuse the crowd with lovely guitar music.

Ofcourse I just don't have enough words to explain some of the stranger conversations, episodes, highlights of our trip…like our quest for pharmacy and then finding in very place when we don’t need one, my friend’s addiction to cheese, foie-gras..;), saying “please thanks woof” all the time to every other(mocking english politeness), my music awareness enhanced with introduction of Citizen cope, above & beyond, oceanlab, thirteen Senses, etc...

one of the best travel week of my life came to an end. all good things should end. by product is- exciting memory to cherish.