Chulapa. #madrid #todayfoundme #sanisidro
Climbed that today. #donostia #sansebastian #todayfoundme
As I write this, I’m careening towards the city of Bordeaux on an Intercités train, and there’s a child of about six years old playing Minecraft on his dad’s iPad beside me. I have two episodes of Game of Thrones to catch up on, a heckuva lot of portfolio prepping to do and a few hundred pages to go on various reading material stuffed in my day pack. I’m quite certain my six other hours of train travel, Nantes to Bordeaux then Bordeaux to Hendaye plus the tram to Donostia-San Sebastiàn, will find me covered for entertainment.
One could say I have a small issue with saying goodbyes. As Philippe noted, “On s’attache facilement,” (we get attached easily). I’m gutted to leave Kerusten, Noelle and Philippe’s hospitality and kindness, Fabienne’s wonderful company and the Brittany countryside. I’m so happy to have met Megan and very briefly, Sherly as well as experiencing such a great first CS experience with Anne and Francois.
I will also miss the following, in no particular order:
And now I’m going to Spain.
While I’m going to miss playing Harvest Moon IRL every day, I’m equally stoked for the backpacking experience in all its unpredictability. The only thing I regret is how lax I’ve been with learning my basic Spanish and now I must play the ignorant tourist for a short while as I reorient myself to another language.
Sorry lovelies, proper updates very soon. I depart for Spain in five short days. Here’s what I know for sure, I have to be in Barcelona by May 23, 4 pm for an evening of musical magic at Primavera Sound Festival.
That’s corsair, not pirate. There is a difference and I’m embarrassed by my lack of swashbuckling knowledge.
An hour out of Rennes, through the Vallée de la Rance maritime, is the tourist-swarmed city of Saint Malo. Given that Bretons go crazy when there are clear skies and sunshine a-Brest (haha… non?), it was a bit like when Vancouverites all head for Stanley Park on a gorgeous Sunday. And wouldn’t you know, there happened to be a parade going on in the afternoon as well. What luck!
With a nickname like The Emerald Coast, walking along the fortifications and upper pavement was a treat. Despite sporting winter coats, people still ran across the beach and languished on the sand.
Within Intra-Muros, the walled city, cobblestone streets and little alleyways and streets with funny names (La Rue du Chat qui Danse!) were in abundance. Ever the lucky one, my hosts were more than happy to avoid the crowds and find little side routes and shortcuts throughout the inner city. Kindred spirits, aye.
History Pop Quiz! Who remembers Jacques Cartier? Dude who discovered Canada or some teeny little thing like that? He voyaged from none other than the port of Saint Malo. #trufax
After perusing Intra-Muros and having a little chocolat viennois and chatting about English tourist behaviour (not particularly well-received) at a café** with swings at the bar and dolls and trinkets EVERYWHERE, we headed back out to watch the parade.
And then we went home and had crêpes and twas a very good day for all indeed.
Except for this guy.
**The name translates to: Cafe on the Corner of the Bottom of the Street at the End of the City in Front of the Port.
So because I obviously don’t listen enough to my parents and I quite enjoy being in the company of complete strangers, I decided to try out the CouchSurfing business this weekend. Off I went to spend three days in darling Rennes, capital of Bretagne.
It was a bit of a toss-up whether I wanted to visit Rennes or Nantes, though I admit it was mostly the Beirut song that had piqued my curiosity about the latter. No regrets, of course. I’ll be swinging by Nantes before I head to San Sebastian.
My hosts, Anne and Francois, were super cool and super kind and just all around super. I can’t wait to hear more of their adventures cycling through Bretagne later this year and adventuring for seven months through Russia/Asia in 2014. Now I have pals in Rennes, which I’m dying to visit again, and really just tell everyone going to France to check out. It’s a chill little city.
Except when you’re arriving during the French League Cup finals. The train station was a sea of red. Somehow, we managed to rendezvous despite this crowd of hardcore fans on their way to Paris:
I lucked out because there was a spoken word/music/art festival going down called Mythos which seemed to draw in the other half of the city, the artsy crowd, so there was plenty of hipster spotting to be done as we toured Vielle-ville (old town), Parc du Thabor, Parlement de Bretagne, even had time to kick it with a bottle of cider and other such beverages at Place St. Anne. Terrace cafes/bars all over. Why do we not have this in Vancouver?
Anne and Francois were cool enough to invite me to the late night festivities, alas, the concerts they were heading to were already sold out.
Instead, I found myself (once more against everything my parents taught me) touring Centre-ville (city center, downtown) by night. Curiousity got the best of me and I started following the rowdy chants of fut fans and found myself catching the tail end of the match being shown on a big screen in one of the city’s squares. Vancouver could learn a thing or two about public spaces put to good use. Rennes lost, the crowd dispersed (sans riot) towards the Rue de la Soif and various other side-streets and alleys known for late night drinking and clubbing. It’s like downtown Granville area but medieval.
I capped my booze limit earlier that day so I wandered back Chez Anne et Francois and had a bright, squirrely start to the morning. The only other people walking around so early were tourists (so very clearly indicated by their honking DSLRs) and the Rennais off to church.
For various reasons, that morning was grand: I had the city to myself; I was wifi-less and mostly lost until I would end up at a familiar looking church or square; I got to use their metro system; I stood in line at the boulangerie like a proper local; I ate pain au chocolat beside the river and collected snaps of Rennais street art.
And then Francois and Anne said we were driving out to St. Malo.