Friday, July 29, 2011

General catchup and familial visits to France, summer 2011

Hi! It's been a long time since I posted... more than a month, yikes. And I wasn't even up to date when I posted last! Bad Katie. It's been busy times. But good! Here is a rundown of what I've been up to since mid-June.

I never posted about the parents' visit, other than the croissant news. Oops. So they came for a few days and we had fun. They rented a car, which was great, since we were flexible and could go places I can't get with public transportation! They only wanted to spend a day in Montpellier, which was fine with me! We wandered around town a bit and then headed out to the beach (only a few km from town, but it was only my second time there--I need to get out more)! We checked out Aigues Mortes, a cool medieval fortified city in the marsh, whose ramparts (walls) you can walk around.

We then left town and hit a ton of places. First was Nimes, where I'd been before, but on the day we went they were having a feria, which is a huge Spanish-style celebration with bull fighting, flamenco dancing in the streets, etc. It was very cool once we managed to park the car (biggest festival of the year and major construction=navigator hell). Then it was on to Arles, a nice town in Provence with an arena (like Nimes) and where Cezanne painted some of his famous works. It was a really pretty town, but we didn't spend long there, so I'm definitely going back next semester. My parents are power sightseers, so two towns in one day wasn't enough and we headed on the Les Baux de Provence, a hilltop fortified town. And hilltop doesn't do it justice. This castle was perched like a champ. It was crazy to see. Beautiful, both the castle and the associated village.

On the ramparts at Aigues Mortes

Arles (the arches are the arena)

Les Baux

After Provence, we headed farther east to the Cote d'Azur. We stayed in Juan-les-pins, where Mom's friends had a place we could stay. The place was awesome. Huge open living space, great patio, really lovely. But we didn't stay long. We were on the beach, man! Time to walk around. We checked out Juan for a little while then headed over to Cannes for dinner. It was just between festivals (film was over, advertising hadn't started yet), and we only spent a little while there, but it was nice (I have no good pictures though-arg)! The next day, we headed back towards Nice via Cap d'Antibes (beautiful) and the corniche roads, which are high roads along the cliffs which provide great ocean views. Finally, we checked out Aix-en-Provence, which is supposedly a real jewel of Provence. It was nice, but I didn't love it as much as expected. I liked Arles better. On our final day, the parents had to head towards the airport, but we made one last stop in Carcassone, which has a huge castle and surrounded cheesy medieval city. Very impressive!


View from the corniche


Aww, the parents in front of the castle in Carcassonne
The trip with the parents was a complete whirlwind, but we saw a lot and it was great. The parents had a very good time.

Then, during my last week in France, my sister came to France to compete in the World Championships for shotput (yeah, she's totally awesome). The timing was crazy (I turned in my final paper Monday, took a train to where she was competing on Tuesday, she threw Wednesday,  and on Thursday I took a train from one end of France to the other, went straight from the train to the room where I had to give a final presentation, did so, attended the end-of-semester party for a few minutes, took an overnight bus to Barcelona, arrived at 3:30 am and waited for the train station to open, took a train to the airport, then took two flights to get home), but it all actually worked out! And I got to see my sister compete in her first international meet and get 5th! Awesome. But whoa. When I finally got home Friday night, I was a complete and utter zombie!

But it's ok! I am home, relaxed, sleeping way too much, seeing friends and family, and having a wonderful time. It's so nice being back! And now even my blog is caught up :)