Monday, October 22, 2012

Exploration or the great flood...

Sorry about the long gap between blogs, my rider recently informed me that people were counting on my Luke updates!! I will attempt to be better about updating, but I am going to blame it on some of the flooding that has been happening around here, because the internet has not been very reliable and has eaten more than one of my attempts. 

Most of the days have been pretty much the same here, get up, complain about getting up, eat some more French pastries I don’t need, feed Luke, play with Luke (he gets mad if his treat quota is not met for the day), work pony, clean him up, turn him out, explore France, catch pony, dodge grumpy pony face while tacking, hack pony (to grow the fan club of course), clean up pony, tuck him in, explore Pau, Bed….

Some of that might need a break down, so when I was chatting up Emilie at the barn one morning she told me about many awesome places that we should check out, and seeming as how I don’t make many trips overseas (I miss my ponies too much) I certainly wanted to take full advantage.  We decided to explore the Pyrenees first, and we asked Emilie for directions.  At which point we were kindly gifted an English speaking TomTom… (best thing ever!!!!) that was programmed for a town with fantastic views, and some great hikes. The drive there was hilarious once we made it up onto the Mountain roads; Andrea started stressing out about the lack of guardrails… “OMG what if another car comes, I mean it’s only wire” Kathleen was stressing out about stop signs and stalling on the grade, me… well I was all about the views. I am fairly certain Andrea and possibly Kathleen wanted to punch me because in between Andreas panicking, I kept going “WOW look at THAT!!!”  After arriving we had a fantastic time wandering around town and went on a short hike to get some better views.  I wish we could have spent more time there, but we didn’t plan well and were starving, and needed to get back to wrangle the ponies… On the drive back through Lordes we discovered some places we wanted to explore more and made a mental note to spend another day there.

Not wanting to be boring we spent Thursday exploring wine country.  We found a few fantastic vineyards, and did some tasting.  It was quite entertaining because they did not speak very good English, and well only Andrea speaks not so good French.  So I was trying to understand (mostly remember what I had learned in Culinary School) but was having a hard time communicating anything, but I can say the wine was AMAZING.  Most of the vineyards were starting to close their tasting rooms, because it is the beginning of the harvest, so there weren’t to many cafes open.  We were recommended a place a few miles a way, we headed over, and it was literally a ghost town.  We sat down inside, and a few minutes later out came soup.  Being slightly confused, we thought we had seen some sort of menu… not realizing that it was an all-inclusive deal, the meal was literally never ending. (I should explain at this point that Andrea only eats fish or chicken, no beef) so the next course was beef and a vegetable.  We saw one more plate and figured dessert was next, nope out comes a plate with legs on it.  We all assumed they were chicken, and we all started eating.  After I cut into mine I realized it was duck (see culinary school above)… and since Andrea was eating thought it best not to say. SO when we were done I mention that I am pretty sure we just ate duck. Andrea looked as if she were going to puke, and to make matters worse. The man that sent us there walked in for lunch, came straight to our table, and says “O you ate the duck, best in all the area” Andrea was practically green. Kathleen and I were in stitches, and I may or may not have been getting the death stare across the table. 

Friday we stayed in Pau, and explored more of downtown, as the marathon few days of rain started…. In my original blog that got eaten I was going to comment on how we had nothing on Fair Hill, but we did.  The rain here flooded the river and water was everywhere, it kind of deterred Saturday’s exploration, which was actually hilarious.  So Kathleen is driving and we start seeing these road-closed signs, not thinking anything of it we reroute to try and get to theses caves.  We drove around a corner and down a hill and see that A) the river is flooded B) the road we were trying to turn on was under water and C) well it might possibly have been the craziest thing any of us had seen. So for all of you that were at Fair hill and believe me I have been there in the rain, you haven’t seen anything like it.  The pictures just don’t do it justice. After getting turned around a few times, we finally made it to the caverns only to discover they were closed due to flooding, so on to Lordes we went.  After only a few moments of turn here, no that’s a one way, park there, no wait, we arrived at the amazing chateau we had driven past before.  I think that was easily the coolest thing we have seen thus far.  It dated back to the Romans, and was rebuilt many times over, the views were stunning, it is literally built on the only high ground around.  From the top of the tower there were incredible 360* views.  We had also spotted a church on our drive, and so from the top of the chateau we plotted a route, sadly we were informed that it was likely closed due to flooding (by another group of tourists) but we were still determined to try it.  We made it all the way to the front gates, but they had an underground basilica and chapels that had all been flooded, so sadly they had shut the whole thing down. The water was running on some of the city streets, shops were closing, and police were directing people, pretty crazy to see, and we were certainly glad to be safely back on the road to Pau.

We had hoped that by delaying our trip to the beach, that the rain would clear up, but sadly it was still coming down… I was starting to feel like chicken little with the falling sky. Emilie recommended the town of Biarritz, and she did not disappoint.  It was stunning, even in the pouring rain, getting drenched. (something about looking like drowned rats in most of those pictures!) We walked along the boardwalk, and then drove up to the light house and wandered around.  I was surprised by the number of surfers out and about, given the weather.  We ended up finding a few paths that lead down the sides of the cliffs, the views were stunning, and we were all cursing the shear number of stairs… There was a moment of possible concern for Kathleen’s safety while taking pictures on one of the over looks (Do not fear Kathleen was not harmed) and we all enjoyed a good giggle.  Andrea would make a great personal trainer as she was shouting “you can make it”, as we attempted to run up the last few flights… I think my calves still hate me… On the drive back we stopped in a town to see a gothic church.  We found it of course by making a visual and shouting mismatched directions, (this seems to be a theme) we arrived in the front and there was a little parking lot, so naturally we parked got out wandered around. Stunning. Wandered back, and discovered that we had been chained in… Literally. (we were sadly not the only ones stuck in this predicament.) I stayed with the car, another French lady was trying to sort out how to get the chain down (to no avail) and Kathleen and Andrea were off with the rest of the bunch to find someone to help.  A few minutes later a very grumpy French men followed by a small group came out the front of the church and let us out. Whew! That was only slightly stressful.We happily awaited the arrival of our riders today! We couldn’t wait it be caught up on all things Fair hill and start to get excited about Pau. (well let’s be honest I have been for months..)

Don’t worry Luke has a blog dedicated to him in the works… There was something about more grouchy faces if I did not agree too his terms.  

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