On Thursday 22nd April, we set off from Sydney for our flights to Paris, and 8 weeks of fun, food and travelling with good friends. The day didn’t begin without some tears though, as I said goodbye to our fur baby Jack, who was of course more interested in getting to his friends house to have a rumble, than have cuddles with his Mum!
Finally we arrive in Paris! The airport was a shit fight, but finally we find our friends Tim & Tegan, find our hire car, and then the adventure begins! Tim was the lucky first person to have to drive on the ‘wrong side’ of the road! Thankfully we had the help of our new best friend ‘Sharnelle’ the GPS lady. Whose French accent was 50 times worse than ours! We headed straight for Amiens and an early night to recover from the flights!
While in Amiens we explored all the Battlefields in the area including Villers Brettoneux – the Australian War Memorial, Beauchamp Hamel – Canadian Memorial where you can see remnants of the trenches and craters and the British Memorial at Thiepval. We attended the Villers Brettoneux ANZAC DAY Dawn Service where we had to get up at ‘Sparrow’s Fart’ as described by a young Aussie we heard chatting after the ceremony! It was of course freezing cold, but the ceremony was dignified and moving.
Monday 26th April we headed back to Paris, for a few days of sightseeing. We explored the Jardin du Luxembourg – beautiful gardens where people just seem to sit for hours around a small pond. We commented that something like that in Newcastle would be beautiful, except for the worry of idiots throwing all the chairs in the water.
The Eiffel Tower was great fun, with Hubby even convincing me to go right to the top! The day was made extra special with Tim proposing to Tegan on the Eiffel Tower! Oh, and she said yes!! Altogether now…. aaaaaaaawwwwwwww!!
A visit to the Louvre was tainted by some crazy tourists you were madly pushing to take photos of the Mona Lisa. It became impossible to walk around at your own leisure and we decided to abort. Lunch on the Champs Elysees was great, but seriously EXPENSIVE! About $20 for a medium orange juice! Yes, my juice was more expensive than the boys’ beer!
The next day ended up proving just how unfit I really am, and made worse by being about 15 weeks pregnant at the time! We climbed the Sacre Coure. Small winding staircases, often quite dark, was definitely not my idea of fun. Hubby soon realised that would be the first and last dome I was going to climb! The view from up the top was of course spectacular!
Friday 30th April we arrive in Bordeaux, which turned out to be a bit of surprise packet! The town was beautiful and we really enjoyed just walking around the streets. Unfortunately we only had 1 night there, and just used it as a stop over. Next stop, Biarritz – a lovely coastal town. The boys decided to stay out after dinner for a few beers at the local bar where they made friends with some Irish……
The Irish aren’t that bad I hear you say. No they’re not that bad, except there was a rugby match in town the next day between Biarritz and Munster (Ireland). And so in the spirit of drinking and carrying on with the Irish who were in town for the game, John & Tim purchased 4 tickets to the game! John was very proud of his purchase as he loudly told me about the tickets when they arrived back to our hotel at 12am!
And so the day of the big rugby match did not get off to a good start! It was not only bloody freezing, but raining as well! I had so many layers on which made zipping up my jacket a challenge as there was a baby bump to contend with too! So we set off to the game which was easier said than done. We found a local taxi stand – by absolute fluke, and through the taxi drivers broken English, our broken French, and hand gestures, we arrive at the local rugby ground. Well that wasn’t so bad I thought. Well, silly me, I should have known it wouldn’t be that easy! We follow the crowds to some buses inside the grounds. We’re then told that we have to catch the bus to a train station, where we then get the train to the rugby grounds. Right so it’s beginning to appear that we’re no longer attending a ‘local’ rugby match!
The bus feels like it takes forever and the bloody bus driver gets lost which was not going down well with me as I started to feel travel sick. FINALLY we arrive at the train station. “Just a few stops”, my lovely husband announces. Yeah right. Luckily I got a seat on the crowded, hot and stuffy train. However I spent the entire train trip – which wasn’t only a few stops, debating whether I give up my scarf or jacket as I was convinced I was about to throw up any minute. How I didn’t still remains a mystery to me, but I’m very thankful my worst fear of throwing up in public didn’t come true. So we FINALLY arrive at the station and the stadium, and as I look at the exit sign it’s no longer “Sortie” but “Salida”.
Hmmmm we’re not in France anymore Toto. No siree we’d landed ourselves in Spain! Oops! No ID, no Passports, no interest in rugby, this day was not going well! “Don’t worry” exclaims John, “It’s all part of the adventure”. By this time I lovingly replied, “F*** the adventure!”
Turns out the game wasn’t so bad after all, and sitting in amongst thousands of crazing Irish rugby fans was an experience in itself! Unfortunately for the Irish, Biarritz won. Maybe it was the Aussie on their team – Karmichael Hunt! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly relieved when we decided to hot foot it outta there 5 minutes before the end of the game so we weren’t fighting through the crowds. Hopped on a train and we were homeward bound. Hooray, I thought, we survived the day! Unfortunately our elation at heading home was short lived.
We got off at the train station we had been dropped at to discover there weren’t any buses. Did I mention we’d ended up in Spain with no ID, no phones, and now no idea how the hell we were going to get back to our hotel. Oh and it was now starting to rain. Never in my life have I wished more that I could just click my sparkly red shoes together, declare there’s no place like home and in a poof of magical smoke be back at our hotel. Of course this didn’t happen, so I went into the train station and bought chocolate from the vending machine while the boys tried to figure out how to get us home!
Once again through broken English, broken French and hand gestures, we managed to ‘chat’ to other people who had got off at the wrong station (turns out the bus driver dropped us at the wrong station initially so other people didn’t realise the buses home went from a different station). We hopped back on the train and stuck close to our new friends, so when they got off the train a few stops later, so did we! And there they were, the beautiful sight of the buses to take us home. Seriously relieved! Finally we were back in Biarritz, and at the local rugby ground. Right, lets hail a taxi and we’ll be back in the town centre munching on some yummy dinner in no time. Right, taxi…. taxi…..
Ok, so there were no bloody taxi’s, so we walked. And we walked. And finally I could have easily balled my eyes out when I caught sight of our hotel! Thankfully dinner was delicious! Yummy seafood starters, scrumptious lamb main and to-die-for desserts!
And that folks, is Part I of the adventure! In Part II we have the most delicious dinner with a hairy-ear man and stay in a haunted hotel! Until next time…. au revoir!