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Southern France

Written on: Thursday September 10th, 2015

A journal entry from: Europe with love!

*If you missed part 1 of the blog, just click "Engaged in Toblach" at the top of the page. 

Leaving Rovinj we headed north along the coast and made our way to a long Caribbean beach like peninsula just south of Venice proper. Here we met with Sven, a good mate from Australia and his partner Katrine and daughter Lynn. It was great to see a familiar face! 


We just had enough time to check into our hotel, brush our teeth and head out front in time for him to pick us up. We spent the day at their camping area, playing at the beach, catching up and having a nice meal. 

Early the next morning Laure and I headed to Venice airport to drop off our car and catch a train to the south of France. Although we gave ourselves plenty of time, plus 1h! The endless influx of a new week of "campers" to the area and those leaving meant that a 45min drive took 2h. I calculate some 30-40,000 "glampers" glamour camping in this fairly small area. 

I was very relieved to have finally returned the car in one piece with no issues! Phew! Unfortunately, we missed our shuttle bus to downtown Venice by only minutes, and were left waiting for the next bus. Luckily we are both quite familiar with Venice and where we had to go. As soon as the bus stopped we had about a 1km run with all our bags over bridges, up and down what seemed like endless stairs, finding our platform and rail card. Sweaty and out of breath we made our train with only exactly 2min to spare! This gave us a good laugh. 

Italian trains are fun to ride and very punctual! A quick change in Milan and we continued all the way to Marseille. Roughly 10h in total on the train, but it was a good opportunity to catch up on some reading and close the eyes. The ride along first the Italian coast and then through Monaco and into France by the ocean side is quite nice and there was a beautiful sunset. 

Arrived in Marseille we were to be picked up by Jean and Ruth but unfortunately Jean who was the only driver was ill with a 24h bug leaving him bedridden. As we had no internet we had no way of knowing if they would indeed make it to pick us up or not upon our arrival. Luck not on our side we ended up spending the night in Marseille as there were no more public transports going to Avignon and a taxi would have been roughly 150-200 ?. Marseille isn't a city you want to walk around at night and especially not next to the train station. 

We managed to catch a morning train and we're greeted with big smiles arrived at the gare in Avignon. This was the first time Laure was able to speak to her parents since the engagement, so it was quite special for them. 

The Larocques rented a nice place outside the city through airbnb. We had seen pictures online, but as we arrived the pictures certainly didn't do it justice. Built below an old fort, the owners of the property turned an old stone stable with loft storage into a modern three bedroom guest house. Keeping the old charm and mixing in lots of modern touches, it was quite neat and a welcome change from staying in hotels. Amazing to think that the walls surrounding us were 100's of years older than The colonization of Canada! There was a private pool with great views of the old Fort walls and tours. 

Our first day we just relaxed and caught up one each-others first week, the proposal etc... Having a whole house allowed us to make homemade meals with great local foods. The comparably cheap prices of cheese, meat and wine is mind boggling. You could feast for I'd say a third of the cost of back home. *however, eating out was quite pricy. 

Throughout the week we did various day trips. We visited old Avignon and le Palais des Papes. Which in the 14th century was the seat of Western Christianity and home to 6 papale conclaves. We visited an old roman aqueduct bridge that is still standing. To think of the engineering back in that time, is quite mind blowing and super advance. A couple of my favourite excursions were to a large in ground quarry where they now play impressive light and music shows inside. A visit to the area of Chateauneuf des Papes which is a famous wine producing area. To be called this name one must be made within the limits of the designated area as well as meet a list of requirements. Kind of like Champagne coming from Champagne. Otherwise the wines from the area are known simply as Cote de Rhone and then the wineries name. We did a great and very informative wine tasting in an old roman cellar. Although I am not a huge fan of wine, this was a real highlight for me as I love learning the production/rules etc... of various spirits. 

We followed this up by a drive to and up Mont Ventoux which is a famous mountain and features several times as a mountain top finish in the Tour de France. It was impressive driving up and would have been a lot of fun to bike up. Hopefully another time! The view and fluctuating weather at the top were neat to see. The peak is known for having winds of over 300km/h and 200+ days a year of high winds. 

I took one day to stay home as I didn't want to be on the go all day. It was really nice to wake up a little later. I read by the pool a couple of times, and explored the town we were in by foot, exploring the old Fort and climbing up the tours which offered a great view of our house. Best of all was simply enjoying nice meals together as a family. 

As I write this, we are passing over Ottawa by plane. We flew early morning from Marseille to Frankfurt and then continuing onto Toronto all on luftansa. I have to say with this flight and past experiences with this airline, that it really is a top airline to fly with! Just everything is great, the food is awesome, lots of service, great entertainment, free drinks or snacks. Compared to the less than limited service and food of air Canada. 

Having a quick stop in Germany even if just at the airport was a real treat. Something just felt right. Within an hour Laure and I managed to have a wicked shop at duty free where there was a very informed lady working in the whiskey section who allowed me to try several different products. We bought a bratwurst for lunch and even a pretzel! :)

I come back excited to go back to work with a rejuvenated mind set. Spending time in Europe in my opinion is always a good experience from a real estate perspective and as a person. The difference with the depth of their history is always astounding. As well as the difference in space and privacy. We are so lucky and rich in Canada. 

All in all its been a wonderful trip. Everything has gone well, nice weather and sights. It's been a pleasure and a memory we will never forget and one to hopefully share with our future kids. 

Thanks for reading!

David W. 

 

From Susie on Sep 22nd, 2015

Thank you for sharing. Sounds like a super trip.

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