Looking Back

While Bill and I were having lunch at a neighborhood Italian restaurant yesterday, we began reminiscing about our 2008 three-month tour of Europe.

“I wonder what we were doing 11 years ago today,” I asked him. Not being a psychic, he didn’t know the answer. I started thinking out loud: we got home on August 8 of that year. We spent two or three days in Paris before we hopped on the plane for home. Therefore, I thought, we must have been making our way to Paris about this time 11 years ago. When we got home, I looked it up. In fact, we were in Brittany, and it was a day or two before we made it to Normandy.

Just for fun, I thought I would copy and paste the July 31, 2008, post from the blog I kept during our travels: The Reluctant Traveler. Enjoy my trip down Memory Lane.

Brittany Coast

Bill and I seriously packed a lot into our Thursday.

We got a fairly early start, and drove more than 500 kilometers to get to our final destination of St. Malo, in Brittany, the most northwestern region of France. Since we had driven so hard on Tuesday, we took it a bit easier Thursday, stopping every hour or so for an espresso.

Before getting to St. Malo, we decided to stop in Dinan for lunch, even though it was only a few kilometers away from our hotel. Dinan is considered by some to be the finest town in Brittany. And it is a very pretty town.

What has surprised me is how different various parts of each country can be. I know this is true also in the United States, but this uniqueness is funny when you consider how small Italy and France are in comparison to the US. During the various times we have been in France during this adventure, for example, we have been in a Riviera resort, an area that felt almost like Germany, the Pyrenees Mountains, the beautiful Province region, and now an area that feels as though we are in Great Britain.

Dinan could have been a town in Great Britain. The buildings look just like those in Wales or Scotland. The native people look very Celtic, with reddish hair. Still, despite the appearance of being in Great Britain, the language is very French.

At one time, Brittany was independent of France. According to our guidebook, back in the 1490s, a French king married a poor, innocent 14-year-old Brittany girl, and, as a result, Brittany became part of France. But the people have maintained their independent spirit, which is why the feeling of the town is Celtic though the language is French. One of the benefits that came out of this marriage was free roads. Believe it or not, that still holds true today, with Brittany being the only part of France that doesn’t charge a toll for use of its highways. Talk about hanging onto history!

The Brittany region is reknown for its crepes and its bowls of hard cider, so that is what Bill and I had for lunch. Bill had a crepe with bacon and eggs, and I had a crepe with scallops, leeks, and cream. We each had a bowl of cider, which are actually small bowls that they fill with delicious hard apple cider. Ours had little handles, but as we shopped, I saw some for sale with no handles at all.

As we walked around a bit, we marveled at the Celtic feel of the place. The street entertainers included the performer of Celtic music pictured here, and, randomly, Peruvians singers. Go figure.

Following lunch, we checked into our hotel, and then went into the town of St. Malo for a visit. St. Malo has a very medieval feel to it, with the large wall surrounding the town. But the town sits on the banks of the Atlantic and is the most popular of the Breton seaside resorts. The beaches were appealing, sandy and large. There are old forts out in the water just outside the walls. When the tide is right, it looks like you can just walk out to those forts. At one time, the town must have been hard to penetrate.

After we walked around the wall, we went into the town to look around. They were having some sort of festival, and we watched the children having races up the wall and different musicians and dancers performing. Bill had a delicious waffle, called a gaufrey maisson, with apricots. We then split a huge dish of moule marniere (mussels with leeks and wine), and some wine…..

We will take off on Friday for our trip to Normandy.

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