Week three brought us to the home of Matthieu's family. We arrived in Saint Malo by ferry from Portsmouth, England on Saturday the 11. The wonderful Sophie woke early to pick us up and drive us the 45 min South to Rennes, the capital of the Bretagne region of France and Matthieu's home. I had private tutoring Mon-Fri with an amazing and patient professour. Two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon and about five hours of homework a night. I think we wrote on over 80 sheets of paper! On Wednesday, we spent the day at her house and I got to go to "La Poste" to order bread at the boulangerie and she taught me some traditional French recipes as well for lunch. My head feels a bit heavier after the week, and as my father in-law Pierre-Henri says, my foot is now in the stirrup and all I need to do is swing my leg on the horse. Matthieu took week one of a week and half session of mastering the art of crepe making. He learned how to prepare the doughs for the sweet and salty crepes, to be technical in America we often just say crepes but the savory ones are called galettes. These are the ones you might fill with cheese, ham, eggs, mushrooms, etc. He also made cookies and cakes using crepes. His work is incredibly tasty and we hope to share his new talent with family and friends!
After a lovely ferry ride from Dublin to Holyhead, the two travelers boarded a train east to Chester, England. Here they hired a car for five stunning days. Jackie studied in Wales when a junior working on her BA at the University of Iowa, and has been longing to go back as an adult and with a car. The train system in Great Britain goes east to west on the south and in the north, and then north to south on the east only. So much of the west of the country is missed by rail and bus. While this is perhaps tragic for the student stuck to public transportation, it is indeed a blessing for the untouched countryside! Matthieu braved the small, twisty roads and driving on the opposite side, as the two wound their way through North Wales and then South. Stops included castles Denbigh, Harlech, and Carreg Cannen. They stopped at a crafting village and watched a man make dragons out of glass and at the town of Portmeirion, a bizarre resort town made up by an archtiectic and was also the location for the TV series "the Prisoner"
Along this drive we came upon a true B&B for a night. The older gentleman who owned the pub, a cafe, and lived above the two with a few rooms rented out that were better than any hotel room. We had a grand time getting to know Eddie and his dog Darcy. Eddie made us a fry up like you have never seen in your life (pictures in the slide show on the right!). If anyone ever finds themselves in Llandawr, Wales stay here!! (The only B&B in town)
But of course, a stop to Wales wouldn't be a stop without a night in Swansea and the lovely company of Jackie's old flatmates! Darren walked the town with the two, and we were lucky enough to get to stay with the lovely Laura and her lovely Chris as well.
After a car-rental gone wrong in Dublin, Jackie and Matthieu hopped on a train west to Galway for the weekend. They arrived in the early evening and found a cheap room at a small but friendly hostel. The got to pretend they were at camp with bunk beds, a basin in the room, and freezing cold tile floors with only cold water to bathe. Sadly, unlike at camp, there wasn't any sunshine to go run around in afterwards.
The two spent Friday night hanging in a pub called the Crane, which is known locally for its musical sessions. Musicians drop in every night just to play together and the results were phenomenal. The pair had so much fun listening to the live music that they returned the following evening for an encore performance. Saturday's line-up included a magical harp solo that hushed the room. It was as if you were listening to a prayer.
These two bone-chilled travelers (yet happy with the warmth of tea at every corner) boarded a musty tour bus for a day trip through County Clare. Stops included castles, an area of land called the Burren (in which there are magnificent limestone shelves) and the spectacular and windy Cliffs of Moher.
Many thanks to Beatrice for hosting us in Dublin, and driving us through the hairpin turns and amazing sites of the Wicklow mountains and Sally Gap!
The adventure begins in Ireland: home of Irish green, Irish charm, Irish whiskey, Irish wool and Irish accents. In their first outing, the couple wanders the streets of Dublin, enjoys a (FREE) museum of exceptional quality and interest, and samples some of Dublin's finest beverages. Pictures of bogs, monastic ruins, harrowing cliffs, and dogs that discover America coming soon!