Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vive le France

It is gray, gloomy, and raining here in Lasarte, but cozy clothes and cafe con leche on a day off make everything better.

Yesterday I woke up and hopped on the train to Saint Jean de Luz, a very small, very old town in Southern France. I knew nothing about the town, what there was to do, or how to get there, but the more time I spend over here, the more these little adventures seem to appeal to me. I got some info from the guy at the train station and in less than an hour, I was there.

The town itself was very quaint: lots of old, old buildings, churches, and streets, but with the contemporary touch of copious boutiques, bars, restaurants, etc. The town clearly realized the tourist appeal of its antiquity and built as many opportunities as possible to take tourists' money. I was starving when I arrived, so I scoped out a few cafes and found one that seemed to call out to me. They served me the best croque monsieur I have ever tasted in my entire life. The cheese atop the sandwich was the absolute perfect balance of crispy, bubbly, and melty, and the mornay, ham, and bread beneath just melted together into creamy bites of heaven. Washed down by a glass of Bordeaux, my day was off to a good start.

From there, I spent a few hours wandering around the town. I window shopped in what were actually some cool little stores, walked along the water, snapped photos of old buildings, etc. Grabbed a chocolate croissant from a little bakery, and good God, it was like eating a chocolate filled cloud. Tried exploring some streets off the beaten path and found a cemetery outside town that totally blew my mind. It had clearly been around for at least a couple hundred years (based on the inscriptions on some of the headstones), and some of the markers were beyond impressive. Pyramids, giant crosses, obelisks, mausoleums, this place was like the Cadillac showroom of graveyards. I think I snapped as many photos within its walls as I did the entire rest of the day.

It started to get dark, so I headed back into town, found a wine shop, and bought a bottle of Bordeaux to drink upon my return home. Then for dinner I knew I had to do something nice and French... obviously, duck confit was the way to go. Very yummy, with frites and a salad, watching some tennis tournament live from Paris. I made it back to the train station, only to find that despite what the arrivals/departures screen said, trains in Saint Jean de Luz show up whenever they please. I watched three different listed departure times come and go and started to panic a little, thinking that I might be stranded for the night; thankfully, after 90 minutes of waiting, my train arrived. The night ended nicely with the Bordeaux (though to my unfortunate surprise, it was only so-so) and a movie.

Today will be spent hiding from daylight, watching movies, and digesting the 35 euro worth of Doner Kebab my roommates and I just consumed. Looking forward to work tomorrow, really looking forward to my birthday weekend with Julia in 5 days, and really, REALLY looking forward to being done in like three weeks!!! Europe has been fantastic, but the stars and stripes are calling me home...

See you soon!

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