Pockets of Blue

musings of my mind

Month: August 2011

Provence

It’s a lazy Wednesday, as I was roused by the impossibly bright Provençal sun at nine this morning. The weather has been perfect for sleeping, around 60 degrees minimum, and I have yet to close my bedroom window in the three nights I’ve spent there. My wonderful Great-aunt and uncle, who rented this house almost a year prior, unfortunately were unable to make it. Louise’s health has been deteriorating, and she was determined to make the most of her holiday rather than be cooped up in the house all week.

The house

They have certainly been missed — the house is much too big for the four of us (my folks, brother and I).

We spent varying amounts of time with them at their estate in the UK. I flew in last and was picked up at Heathrow by my father and Great-uncle (who hasn’t seemed to age in ten years!), then spent a day getting over jet lag. We took a train to the Southern coast and spent the day in Brighton, touring the decadent mansion of Louis XIV and wandering the pebbled beach admiring the salty sea waves. Before long we were saying our goodbyes and on a train to France.

The original idea was to rent (“hire”) a car in Lille and tour the French countryside over three days, staying in hotels along the way. We seemed to underestimate the size of the country, though, as we likely spent more time in the car as on our feet, often in a relentless rain. Chambéry was especially nice, nestled in the outskirts of the French Alps, with an exceptional Sunday market to browse as the fog and rain slowly lifted over the valley mid-morning. Sunday afternoon found us in sunny Provence, where the weather has since hardly changed, and we took full advantage of the pool and ping-pong table the next day.

Brighton

Yesterday we drove through much of the Provençal countryside (through some stunning tree-lined roads) on our way to the Gorges du Verdon, the largest canyon in Europe. It was nice to tour a natural spectacle for once, rather than the castles, museums and cobbled streets of typical European vacations. The Verdon was spectacular, half as big yet much steeper as Arizona’s Grand Canyon, with a road hugging its cliffsides the entire way. We escaped the car for a nice hike at the canyon bottom, with the overhanging limestone cliffs above us and emerald-green river at our side. I was trying to spot climbers but saw none — probably a bit warm this time of year.

So here we are, halfway through the week in our home in Provence, off to Ménerbes and the Coustellet farmer’s market this afternoon. On Saturday we’ll make our way to Marseille, with Sunday a travel day and the start of the next phase of the adventure…

Europe bound

Well, it’s been a long time coming (over a year now?), but I’m off to Europe on Sunday. I feel like I’ve been telling people about the pending trip for eons, and have started resorting to the terse cliff-notes version out of fatigue. To be honest, I really haven’t been all that excited about it, preferring to live in the moment and enjoy my summer and all the traveling I’ve been doing around the west.

That’s starting to change. Katherine has been the impetus, dropping off tour books and various literature for her sake as much as my own. It should be a non-rushed trip with three countries on the agenda, including one which I’ve never been.

In case you haven’t gotten the brief from me directly, here’s the (rough) agenda:

Aug 21 – Depart from SLC to Chicago. Long story as to why I’m spending the night here…
Aug 22 – Chicago -> London. I’ve never had a non-overnighter across the Atlantic, and am frankly a bit confused why these flights even exist, as I get in at 10:45 and will undoubtedly be exhausted.
Aug 24 – London -> Northern France somewhere (Calais?). I’ll be with my folks and brother at this point and I believe we’ll be renting a car and heading through Eastern France (Champagne, etc.) on the way to Provence.
Aug 27 – Arrive at the house in Provence. Hopefully my Great-aunt and uncle will be able to meet us here for the week.
Sept 3 – Leave the house, go to Marseille, where my folks fly out and Katherine flies in. Begin dirtbagging it. We plan on making our way to Spain, and Barcelona eventually.
Sept 11 – Katherine flies out of Barcelona, leaving me by myself. I will continue the adventure traveling around Spain…
Sept 20 – Fly out of Madrid back to SLC.

Whew! For now I’m wrapping up a project at work and taking care of some odds and ends before my departure. My roommate will be holding down the fort at home (thank you!) throughout the duration.

See you all in a month!

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