Road Trip USA Part 2 – What the Hell am I Doing Drinking in LA at 26?

I was super stoked to sleep in. Since I didn’t have the responsibilities of the farm, I thought this trip would be a wonderful opportunity to sleep in. Unfortunately, I woke up at 7:12. I tried to go back to sleep, but someone was snoring, and it wasn’t Guapito, so I couldn’t hit them to get them to stop. I put on some headphones and tried to go on the computer, but Guapito gave me an angry face and told me it was too loud. I then tried to read a book, but I was too tired to hold my phone as a light, and I ended up pocketdialing my dad and leaving a 4.25 minute-long message. A $7.50 mistake *facepalms*. I decided to give up and just lay there with my headphones on. I tried to get comfortable but without any luck because I have big-ass V-MODA headphones. At least they sound good.

The mediocre breakfast was at 9:55, because it stopped at 10, and everyone else got to sleep in till around 9:45. We then walked down to beach. It wasn’t as quick a walk as Rae had been expecting. The walk was beautiful though. The neighbourhoods were really cool, all strung up with Christmas lights. They reminded me of a co-op housing place where an old friend of mine used to live. The beach was spectacular with perfect waves. It wasn’t crowded at all. I so wanted to jump in the water and play, but it was way too cold for that.

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Manhattan Beach

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Houses at Manhattan Beach. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful place to live?

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Main Street in Manhattan Beach

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Friends ❤

We didn’t get to stay too long until we had to head back to meet some friends for lunch. We went to Panera Bread, which has really delicious soup. I had the fall squash soup that I probably could have eaten 15 bowls of. The two friends we met up with were lovely chaps. After being very friendly and telling exciting stories, they took us to an absolutely gorgeous lookout point.

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Lookout in Palos Verdes

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Lookout

Guapito found a tumbleweed and got really excited. He wanted to see it in action, but we all stopped him before he could throw it. Apparently California is pretty strict about stuff like that.

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Guapito and the tumbleweed

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Old friends and new friends ❤

One of the fellas had to get his car from the shop, so we all agreed to meet later to see the sunset from a pier. The four of us roadtrippers headed to a Starbucks by the beach to wait. The view was incredible. We then went to see the Korean Friendship Bell, which was really cool. It was obvious that we were going to miss the sunset on the pier, so we watched it from the location of the bell.

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Korean Friendship Bell

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Sunset!

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Boys are silly

We then met at one of our friend’s houses and made a game plan for the evening. I only had one goal for the entire trip: to be able to sing the Bran Van 3000 song (Drinking in LA), and have it be somewhat accurate. A.K.A. go drink somewhere in LA. I don’t know why I love the song so much, but I always have. It’s one of the few songs that if it comes on my ipod, I have to listen to it, and I’ll enjoy every second of it. I was listening to it sometime last year, and I actually paid attention to the lyric that says “… at 26” I realized I was going to be 26 soon, and that it was the only year in my entire life that the song would be accurate. I made it my mission to visit LA sometime (despite despising LA) before I turned 27. Opportunities came and then disappeared before I could jump on them. So when Rae asked me to go on a road trip to San Francisco, I was hesitant. I asked if she wouldn’t mind heading to LA for a day or two, and she said that they were going for 4 days, so I immediately agreed. It was my one non-career-related goal that I had for 2014.

Anyway… after stopping at the hotel room to grab my ID, we headed to Malibu and had dinner at Moonshadows, which is an expensive seafood restaurant. It was some miscommunication how we ended up eating there, but the food was pretty good, and the view was stunning, even at night. We saw a seal swimming, which just made everything perfect. There were 3 new people who joined us there, and we all feasted together. We were going to get drinks there, but at $12+ per drink, we were all quite hesitant. The non-attentive waitress solidified our decision to leave and go to Zebra Room, a cash-only dive bar instead. It ended up being beyond perfect. It’s a cash only bar, but the drinks were cheap, and they had a jukebox that fortunately had my Bran Van 3000 song. I jumped around the room, traded dimes and a nickle for a quarter and eagerly pressed play.

I had to wait about an hour for it to come on, and I was fairly drunk by then (I never drink, so it really didn’t take long). But when it did finally come on, my eyes lit up (or so I’m told), and I sang my heart out. I made sure not to forget the line: “What the hell am I doing drinking in LA at 26?” because, you know, I’m 26, drinking in LA, and honestly don’t know why.

I accomplished my goal. I was completely content and satisfied. It is absolutely remarkable how things work out in life.

We then went to one of the friend’s houses, and had some delicious Stella Rosa wine that tasted like juice. Neither Rae nor I enjoy the taste of wine, but this was incredibly good. We then played the card game Bullshit, which I was terrible at in an inebriated state. Our host was wonderful for entertaining us at such an hour when he had to work the next morning.

When we finally got back, it was really late. Surely I would get a good night’s sleep this time, right? Nope.

France Day 14 – WEG Dressage Freestyle (Caen) & Arromanches Evening

This was the day that all of the dressage fanatics were waiting for. The stadium was absolutely packed when I arrived. I had decided that I wanted to take the shuttle. It gave me an opportunity to talk to one of the employees of the travel company to see if I could secure a ride to England. I also thought it would be a good idea to keep saving money on gas. My traveling companion decided she did not want to take the shuttle because it makes her carsick. I still had to pay for half of the gas, and use of the vehicle, even though I did not use it at all that day (or the last day, in fact. Some people’s definitions of fair do not line up with mine.)

Happy to be on my own, I went to explore the WEG village a little more. I also didn’t feel like waiting in the line to get into the stadium with all those people.

The whole day was filled with different events going on in a few different areas. I almost didn’t want to go see the dressage. It was a nicer atmosphere, the washrooms were relatively nicer (they were portapotties, but at least they weren’t urine and poo-covered squat toilets), and there were many more options of food.

In one arena, when I arrived, they were doing an American, cowboy-themed show. It was pretty fun, and I was feeling really emotional at this point, so a few tears dripped from my eyes. Not because I’m American (I’m not), but because it made me miss my cowboy friends from years ago.

They also tried roping a barrel. One was successful, the other was not.

At a different arena, they had a more educational demonstration going on while I was there. This one was about the horses of France. Or at least, that’s what I gathered from it. All of you French speakers can correct me. 🙂 I was enthralled by this mare and her foal. I almost miss when Kaden was a foal. But then again, he had a lot of attitude, so maybe I don’t.

I got some pad thai and an apple pie at a restaurant. I think after my experience with the chinese food the previous night, I should have known better than to try more asian food. It was terrible. I’m just used to abundant, delicious, asian foods in Vancouver. After lunch, I figured it was time for me to go see the event I actually paid to see. Maybe dressage would suddenly become exciting. I walked back, and noticed another “full” parking lot. I chuckled to myself.

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“Full” parking lot in France.

There were no lines when I got to the stadium, on account of my being very late, but I couldn’t find a spot to sit. Despite having a seat in that section, I was told to go to a different section since there was no room. I then went to the section the lady told me to go to, and the man was very upset at me. In my very, very, limited French I told him that the lady told me there was no room in my section, and that she told me to go to this section. He told me it was impossible because different sections are different prices, and they weren’t allowed to mix people. He then instructed me to sit in a section in the corner, since it was in the same price range as mine. I didn’t mind this spot. I had two seats to myself, and a decent view. If it ever started to rain, I would be covered.

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A lot busier than the other two days!

I tried searching from my traveling companion, but with no luck. Later she told me that there were plenty of empty seats in that section. It sure didn’t look like it to me. Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro were the favourites of the day, and they ended up winning by a lot. Valegro is a horse that certainly stood out. He could be an equine Greek god.

It was a fairly interesting afternoon. I was enjoying being by myself. There were also quite a few medal ceremonies.

Some of the horses, besides Valegro, were simply lovely to watch. Another one of my favourite pairs was Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill. Damon Hill is absolutely gorgeous. He floats.

Next time, if there ever is a next time, I’d like to bring some more awesome lenses in order to get some really spectacular photos.

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Jealous of the lenses.

It was quite a pleasant day. I couldn’t find my traveling companion after the show, so I took the coach back with the rest of the group. While I was waiting, I became enamoured with some police horses.

When I got back, my traveling companion had not yet arrived. I did not have a key to the room, and there was no point hanging around the building. I treated myself to a delicious dinner at a nice restaurant that had a spectacular view of the ocean. Then I went and explored the area in the twilight. I was thrilled by it all.

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France Day 13 part 2 – Mont Saint-Michel

After we left the endurance competition, we headed over to Mont Saint-Michel since it wasn’t too far away. My traveling companion had already been there before, and she warned me about how crowded and busy it was going to be. It was her idea to go visit it, and I’m sure glad we went. It is beautiful! I had actually never heard of it before going to France, despite it being the top tourist destination in France after the Eiffel Tower.

I was quite offended that they charged for parking.

When we got to the visitor centre, from where we were to take a shuttle, I noticed a sign for a horse-drawn carriage. I knew immediately that it was something I had to do. It only cost 6 euros, and my traveling companion decided to come along. It was essentially my second favourite thing that I did in France. I had such a wonderful time.

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To my great relief, there was no line to get onto the island, and it wasn’t nearly as crowded as my traveling companion had said it would be. She was actually quite surprised that there were so few people. I was delighted. It is such a cool place, and I despise crowds.

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The main street

My traveling companion told me that you can only access the island at certain times of the day because otherwise the tides come in and block the way. They are building a new bridge that will allow access for 99% of the time, but it isn’t complete yet. She also told me of some sad stories of people riding their horses across the sands, but because of the water under the sand, the horses would fall right through, like quicksand. Scary!

It’s such a cute little place. Although it is still somewhat of a novelty, I think it would have been much more interesting back in the day, when you had to risk your life going across the sands and beat the tides.

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Awesome roofs.

The modifications that humans have made to the area have had a seriously negative environmental impact. That is a big reason as to why they are putting in a new bridge; one that should be more environmentally sound. There is also a dam, as you can see in the picture below. I can’t remember what effect this has on the region, and I’m too lazy to look it up.

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Dam!

I loved seeing the birds. I love birds. I would like to have a bird one day. Either a parrot or a falcon. At the moment I have way too much going on to get a bird. One of the birds sounds like it’s laughing in the following clip. The other one sounds like it’s one of those noisy straws that used to come with Slurpees.

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Cute little thing!

My traveling companion hadn’t entered the abbey on Mont Saint-Michel the last time she was there. After all, the place was so incredibly crowded that it wouldn’t have been worth the time. I figured since we were already there, we might as well do as much as we could do. She decided she would join me, despite not wanting to make the trek up the stairs. Unfortunately we were 5 minutes too late. They had just stopped letting people in so they could prepare for the evening light show. I was a bit disappointed, and I think my traveling companion was relieved. Then the wind started to blow, and I looked to the horizon. It looked like a storm was coming.

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Mont Saint-Michel in a nutshell.

We continued to go to the other side of the island to see what could be seen. I saw the barred window thing and thought it would make a cool picture.

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I could smell the storm coming, and I really thought it would be a good time to leave. My traveling companion agreed, so we started to make our way back down. While going down, I saw lovely garden spaces. People can be so creative when they need to be.

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Lovely garden on our way down the hill.

I looked back to the horizon. The storm was coming quickly.

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Storm’s acoming.

We got down to the level for shops, and despite the wind blowing really hard, my traveling companion decided that she wanted to shop. I told her it wasn’t a good idea, but she said she would be really quick. Of course she wasn’t really quick. She had to know all about the products that she was interested in, where they came from, etc. By the time all was said and done, it had started to sprinkle. We rushed outside, and pretty much as we set foot outside of the gates, the rain started hard. We ran all the way to where the shuttles were and got soaked. Our swiftness made us lucky, and we were able to catch one of the first shuttles leaving. Others were not quite so lucky.

When we got back to the parking lot, it was barely even raining. We jumped in the car and turned the heat on full blast in order to try and dry our clothes. It was a long way back to Arromanches. We decided to try some asian food on the way back, and it ended up being terrible and expensive. My traveling companion’s bowels started to act up, so we had to leave in a hurry. By the time we got back to Arromanches, we were mostly dry and fairly tired. Overall, it was a very satisfying day.

France Day 11 – Arromanches & WEG (Caen)

Since it wasn’t raining (apparently rain is a thing in Normandy?) I decided to venture out to explore the small town of Arromanches Les Bains. I also really needed toothpaste, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to look for some. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? To make it short, I didn’t find any toothpaste, but I did have a grand adventure looking at things.

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View from our room at the B&B

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Our B&B. Our room has the open window on the “roof” floor”

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So many random Canadian things in France.

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View of Arromanches from the other side. Took me a whole 5 minutes to walk across.

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Perdy

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This place looked like it had been abandoned for quite a long time.

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Cute.

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I like finding the “wild” everywhere I go.

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Every town has a fancy church.

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Rad railing.

After my unsuccessful search for toothpaste, but an entirely satisfying exploration of Arromanches, I went back to meet my traveling companion so that we could head to the second day of the dressage competition at the World Equestrian Games in Caen.

When we got there, all the parking lots were “full” (this is once again, the French definition of full). The parking lady said there was a mall just up the street with free parking. There wasn’t, but we easily found street parking and walked to the competition. Because we came during the break, and it wasn’t a popular event, we entered the facilities easily and found seats easily as well. There weren’t a whole ton of people at the event. In fact, because it started raining, and half of the seats aren’t under cover, we were able to go upstairs and find some seats.

It was odd that despite this being a world event, there wasn’t a whole lot of preparation done. There was little to no food or drinks available for purchase, and half of the stands didn’t have everything on their menus. Also, the washrooms were not only filthy, but they contained squatty potties that were often plugged or had no toilet paper, or the toilet paper was dirty because they were never on rolls. The stench of urine could be smelled as soon as you opened the door. I felt really bad for older people, and people in high heels or sandals.

The horses were beautiful though.

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View from our original spot not under cover.

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Despite watching a few dozen horses do the exact same thing, I still had a hard time figuring out what made one better than another.

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Cantering specimen. The score on the board is NOT for this rider and horse.

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Absolutely want this for my arena.

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Pfff… even the professionals don’t get square stops.

We stayed till the end of the day and then went back to Arromanches, with a small detour to a grocery store on the way back to the car so that I could get toothpaste. We went for dinner and afterwards I decided to go for a walk. She agreed to come with me, but we didn’t get very far before she wanted to turn back. It also started raining, so that didn’t help her desire. I had wanted to walk all the way to what appeared to be a lookout point, and her response was literally “There is no way I’m going that far.” When I did actually go, it didn’t take more than 10 minutes.

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Tide’s out! You can almost see England on the horizon.

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Dead fish! I don’t like death, and I don’t like fish, but I liked the composition of this picture.

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I like the light on the water.

France Day 10 – Bayeux

It’s amazing how much I don’t remember when there isn’t something to jog my memory. Although this was the first day that we had tickets for the World Equestrian Games, my traveling companion had no interest in going because it was the first of two days for the qualifying rounds. I don’t care enough about sports to care either way. As long as there is something to do, I am satisfied.
It’s a good thing we didn’t go anyway, because it was raining, and I’m sure we would have been miserable. The arena isn’t entirely covered, so we would have been soaked. We decided to go shopping in Caen instead. I was totally ok with it because I still didn’t have an adapter, and I hoped beyond all hope that this would be my chance.

When we got to the mall, I saw a giant electronics store, akin to Best Buy or Futureshop, so I immediately said “Can I go in there first? I want to look for an adapter.” She agreed, but sat in the car and waited for me. I was so unbelievably excited when I found adapters that would work for me! I bought one that was supposed to be interchangeable for the whole world (although it ended up being that you could plug anything from anywhere in the world, but couldn’t plug it in everywhere. No matter…), and one that had two USB ports. Almost halfway through my trip, and I was finally extremely relieved.

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Hard to see because of the rain, but these are street lamps.

Back in the car, she drove us about 100 meters to the mall entrance. We visited pretty much every shop. I bought a few clothing items. Then we went to a grocery store and she bought more snacks, and I got an extra bag so I could throw stuff in to take home.

My traveling companion had made dinner reservations at an excellent restaurant in Bayeux, so we headed there. We arrived quite a bit early, so we explored the town cathedral. I found it more intriguing than the Notre Dame of Paris, and not having quite so many people helped a lot.

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It was pouring rain, and at the time we didn’t know that it was open. So I found a nook from which to take a picture of the courtyard.

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I love this ceiling!

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Inside the church.

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View of the church after dinner, when the rain finally stopped :).

We checked the time, and figured we should be able to get in with our reservations a little early, which we did. When we sat down, we started dripping. We were so soaked from the rain that it was making little puddles underneath us. Happily, the restaurant people didn’t mind. We then ate the most delicious meal I have ever had in my entire life. I was in absolute heaven. I never take pictures of food, but I had to have a visual memory of this delectable delight.

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Impossibly delicious.

Le Pommier was one of my two favourite restaurants in all of France. I enjoyed it so much that I convinced my traveling companion to eat there for our last meal. I cannot even begin to express my joy at this meal.

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Impossibly perfect dessert.

Despite me usually being a chocolate fanatic, I decided to go with the “pomme surprise en chaud et froid” because why not. Pretty much I got it because I understood all the words, but had no idea what they meant. I needed to satisfy my curiosity. It ended up being the best decision ever. I am angry that this restaurant is in France and I am no longer in France. There is no way to adequately explain my pleasure in this entire meal.

Afterwards we walked a bit around town and I thought it was a beautiful sight.

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Magical!

I LOVE FRANCE! J’aime la France! Me encanta Francia!

France Day 9 – Saumur to Arromanches

Unlike when I was in Paris, I was not quite ready to leave Saumur. It had snuggled its way into my heart. Alas, it was time for the next leg of the adventure! We finished our last breakfast at the B&B and headed off.

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The breakfast room at Le Patio.

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The castle I never got to go inside at Saumur, and our B&B.

I had really wanted to enter the castle of Saumur, but my traveling companion had no interest in doing so, and I didn’t find the time to do it on my own, so we compromised on going to Le Chateau de Villandry. That way I could see inside a “castle” and she could see something she’s more interested in: gardens. This little detour was quite a bit out of our way, but totally and completely worth it.

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Le Chateau de Villandry

Le Chateau de Villandry itself is apparently one of the nicer old buildings on the inside. The owners have spent a fair bit of money upgrading and staging it so that it looks nice. At least that’s what my traveling companion said she saw on her travel sites. I don’t trust those travelings sites.

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Possibly the most uncomfortable sitting room ever.

I thought the building, though large, was extremely inefficient in its use of space. I started to imagine all the things I would have done to modify the spaces if I had been there when it was originally built.

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A giant room with a table that seats 6? What is this madness? Also, the colours make me want to puke, and what on earth kind of malformed palm tree is that?

Clearly I would have used it for dancing.

It made me sad that the building was built on top of an even older castle that was mostly razed to build the “new” one. Only one corner of the original building still stands.

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I’m sure you can tell which corner is the oldest part of the building.

The gardens were magnificent. Although also an inefficient use of space, they were beautiful and works of art. Truly remarkable. Honestly I wouldn’t want this kind of garden, but it’s a nice thing to visit. Some people enjoy doing this kind of thing, and I can respect that. If it were me, I would like that to be a field with my horses and gardens throughout. One day, when I have my own castle…

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3 types of gardens and a moat. So nice!

So there were food gardens, a decorative garden to be seen from above, a water garden, a lavender garden, a maze, fruit trees designed to grow along the wall. It was a really creative and amazing place to be in.

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Cool kitchen I would like someone to cook for me in.

The kitchen was pretty superb. I think it was the nicest set up by far. They had real food in the kitchen. That made it extra legit.

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Fancy gate!

I love cool doors and gates. I think this is so awesome because the castle’s property goes right onto the town. I’ve been saying that I want to live on a farm in the middle of Vancouver. I found a plot of land that is perfect – a little small, but still good. I like the big city living, but I need my farm. Sorry… less about me and more about the travels!

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Wild garden!

This was my favourite garden. As awesome as the perfectly manicured gardens look, there is something that innately appeals to me about this. It makes me want to run through a meadow and frolic with other fawns.

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Le Chateau de Villandry family

It was really special that this family put up photos. As much as it is a museum and a place to tour now, it also used to be a home. My imagination starts to run wild with stories of what could have been the past.

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View from the keep.

After enjoying a crepe and sandwich at the little cafe on site, we headed off to Arromanches.

The scenery was spectacular during the drive. I finally started to see more of the kind of landscapes that I was expecting from France. As we headed north, things began to change. Suddenly there were few trees, rolling hills, and some buildings left destroyed by the war. The architecture started to change too. My traveling companion said the designs of the houses and the little yards were more reminiscent of the English countryside than what we had seen so far in France. I thought it was all just spectacular.

It was getting late when we finally arrived at our B & B in Arromanches. Having just been in a spectacular B & B in Saumur, we were more than disappointed in our new accommodations. Truth be told, if it was just me in that room, I wouldn’t have minded, but the water in the shower cycled from burning hot to ice cold every 10 seconds or so. There was no room to turn around in the bathroom (they made it under a stairwell, so you had to crouch to get to the toilet, and you couldn’t stand in front of the sink if the door was closed. There was no room for my “tidy” traveling companion to put all of her stuff, no wifi, and we were going to have to share a bed. It also smelled really bad. Honestly, I’ve traveled to so many places, that none of it would have bothered me if I had been alone. She, however, was completely dissatisfied, and she complained. So we ended up getting a better room, with two beds (yippee!) and a bathroom we could turn around in. No water cycling problems either, and wifi to boot! Sometimes it is beneficial to complain.

Can I just say how beautiful Arromanches is? The view of the ocean lit up my soul in a raging fire of joy.

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France Day 8 – Saumur

When we woke up in the morning, I felt horrible. I had major cramps, I was incredibly sore from the ill-fitting tack from the two days prior, and it was raining. We were supposed to get up really early and go on a 4-hour trip with the ponies. I didn’t want to go. I told my traveling companion that. I said she was welcome to go without me, but I didn’t want to go. Somehow she convinced me to go anyway. When we got there, however, she decided she didn’t want to go anymore, and so she made up some random excuse about why we couldn’t, and we left. I felt guilty leaving, but the decision had been made, and that was that.

When we got back, my traveling companion went off to the market to buy some souvenirs and gifts. I had a hot bath to try and ease my cramps. It was awkward, because housekeeping came into the room while I was having a bath. I didn’t know who it was, so I uneasily said my traveling companion’s name, and the lady mumbled something in a surprised voice and quickly left the room. I was a bit unsettled, so I got out of the bath and snuggled into the bed to relax and read my book.

I was feeling a lot better by the time my traveling companion came back, and when she showed me the stuff that she had bought, I knew I wanted to go check it out as well. Thus commenced my first real shopping experience in France. We went to the market, that was mostly closed by this time, and I bought some local soaps. We then went and perused the shops for clothing items. We each bought a top at different stores (we have completely different styles despite our closeness in age), and then I requested to enter the lingerie shop, as most of the bras I was wearing were 4-12 years old. I despise shopping, and I despise bra shopping even more.

I grabbed a few that I thought were my size and tried them on. A giant disappointment. Not even the French bras looked good on me. My traveling companion had seen the bras I had taken and insisted that they were the wrong size. She then helped me find a bra that fit, and I was excited, because it looked like a bra looks on the models and the people in the movies. I always thought my body was deformed before. Just a side note: it’s amazing what a well-fitting bra can do. Whenever I wore that bra when I got home, everyone told me I looked really good, and asked if I lost weight. I had lost weight, but only like 2 lbs… not enough to make a visual difference.

Anyway, after our shopping extravaganza, we headed back to the B & B to get ready for the spectacle that we were going to in the evening. I never wear makeup, and I put on makeup. I never do my hair, and I did my hair. I had been looking forward to this event since I first saw the advertisement. My traveling companion wasn’t certain about going, but I was. It was a SHOW of HORSES AT THE CASTLE. There was nothing anyone could tell me that would hinder my desire to go. My traveling companion suggested doing the dinner beforehand since it didn’t cost much more than a dinner anywhere else would cost, and it was supposed to have traditional fare from the more ancient times.

When we got there, there were actors waiting for us, and they babbled on about whatever. I don’t speak French, but I was thrilled. The duke was a handsome fella with a real touch of arrogance, and the ladies were beautiful and pompous. After the duke’s speech (I’m guessing he introduced the scenario and the three women that he was considering marrying), two of the ladies came in dancing.

We were then told to find a place to sit. It was unfortunate because most of the places were reserved, and we could not find a seat that wasn’t already reserved. We tried to sit at a table set for 8 with only 6 people at it, but the people there wouldn’t let us. They said it was already too crowded. This was ridiculous because some tables of the same size had 10 people at them. We eventually sat down at a reserved table and decided to move only if we got in trouble. Whoever the table was reserved for didn’t show up. We sat with a couple from Belgium, and they were quite friendly despite the language barrier. We were soon served what we assumed were appetizers, but ended up being the entire dinner. Needless to say, we left hungry that night.

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Dinner. At least there was nutella! MMMMMMMMM!

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We were at the table on the left. They eventually moved us all to the end of the table closest to the centre.

Throughout the night, the duke and the 3 ladies came to our table and gave us their side of the story. Each of the ladies was supposed to “seduce” us into liking them enough to recommend them to the duke. The duke then told his side of the story, and what he thought about each of the ladies, and which one we would pick. One of the ladies didn’t even visit our table, one of them gave us her shpiel in French only, so I only understood fragments. I really appreciated that one of the ladies and the duke were able to perform in both French (for the Belgian folks) and in English (for us English-speaking Canadian folks) when they came to our table. It was twice as much work for them, but it made a world of a difference for us. We finally had a window into what was really going on.

Despite my (later) embarrassing answer to “Which is better: love or power?” (I answered that it depends). They all laughed me, but I assured him that in this scenario it would be better to go with his real love as opposed to one that would solidify his power. They then went on and continued to do dances, dialogues, monologues, and songs. It was very entertaining! I had a whale of a time, that’s for sure.

The duke’s character was very cocky and flirtatious. At one point he grabbed a young lady from her table and did one of those dramatic kisses where she was bent over backwards. I’m not sure if he actually kissed her, but it was quite a sight to see an audience member be that involved. In fact, at another point, all of the actors chose people from the tables to dance with them in front of everyone. There was no opportunity to be shy at this shindig.

I was just watching the happenings when all of a sudden the duke runs over to us and in English informs us that it was our lucky day and that we would have the privilege to kiss the duke. “Really?!” I asked, eyes wide. I couldn’t tell if he was serious, and if he was, where I was supposed to kiss him, and if he just meant me, or the both of us. My traveling companion hadn’t made a move yet. He smiled and said “yes!” and pointed to his cheek. So I leaned over and planted one on his cheek. My traveling companion kissed him on the other cheek at the same time. Honestly, it took a lot of courage for me to do that because I have issues of initiating physical contact with people.

I thought the night couldn’t get any better, and then they brought out swords. I was over the moon. This was the best day ever.

I was sad when it ended. Not only because it was extremely entertaining, but I was also hungry and disappointed that there wasn’t any more food. We then walked over to the castle wall and found some good seats. The show was absolutely amazing. It was the history of France with horses at every turn. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it thrilled me. There was singing, jousting, trick riding, dressage, music, light shows, dancing, war, celebration, and more! I would have seen it again in a heartbeat. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures or video, so I have no documentation of it. But it was AMAZING!

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That concludes my absolute best day in France!