Monday, October 3, 2011

La Rochelle

This past weekend, I went with 7 girlfriends to the coastal city of La Rochelle, which is about a 2 hour train ride away from Nantes. One of our friends was told that this city was a must-see, and it did not disappoint! We had 2 days of sunshine, 30 degree weather, and beautiful sights!
I am blatantly stealing this from the tourist manual... but a bit of background! "La Rochelle has always been a bit of a rebellious city... they were democratic long before others (elected a mayor in 1199) and protestant when the rest of France was staunchly Catholic. It was founded as a fishing village in the 10th century and its name is based on the idea of the "petite roche" (little rock). There are three towers that remain in the city that were used to watch the waters and protect the city."
When we arrived, we checked out our lodgings for the night. 4 of us were in a little hotel and the other 4 were in a hostel.
Our hotel!
For only 2 stars, our hotel turned about to be safe and quite nice. It was in a little corner of town near an outdoor market, which ran both Saturday and Sunday and was very beautiful!
After we figured out where we were staying, we decided to check out the sights. Some of us saw one of the tours and afterwards we went to the beach. I officially love swimming in the ocean... the saltwater makes you float! It's so fun! The water was a little chilly, but we were so hot from walking so much that it didn't matter.
In the evening, we went to a Creperie for dinner... and it was amazing! Most of us got a dinner crepe and a dessert crepe. My dinner crepe was ham and mushrooms and cream, and my dessert was a chocolate and pear crepe. They were both marvelous and I was incredibly full!
One of my favourite things about France is how all of the cafes have outdoor seating. I know that once it turns cold we won't be able to eat outside, but I absolutely love the atmosphere! It didn't hurt that summer was sending us one last heat wave...
After dinner, we hung out by the harbour for a bit and then went to Fitzpatrick's Irish Pub for a drink. I was happy to find a pint of beer that wasn't some weird French kind, and that actually tasted like good beer. Unfortunately the prices for drinking out are kind of steep, so we only stayed for one drink. The Pub had a very nice atmosphere though, and it made us all want to visit Ireland!
We were all pretty wiped afterwards, so we headed back to our respective sleeping places for bed. As per usual in most hotels, I didn't sleep well... but that was ok!
We somehow managed to arrange it, subconsciously, so that all the church-goers were in one hotel, so the next morning my hotel group went to one of the Protestant churches. It was very traditional, and kind of difficult to understand, but still nice. I really just enjoy seeing how different people express their faith and how different people connect to God. One of the older ladies also told us that she was really content to see some new, young faces. The congregation was pretty old. One of the ladies who made an announcement reminded me of one of my neighbours in Port Elgin who goes to my church... she had a very similar way of speaking. I love being reminded of home when I go to church! We also sang a hymn to the tune of "Doxology", which is a grace that we sing at camp... so of course I have fond memories associated with that song as well.
After church, we walked to the beach near the hostel and hung out there for a while. I even fell asleep on the beach! It was wonderful. We also went swimming, but went in the wrong part and cut our feet on the rocks... one of the French ladies told us that we were fools to swim where we were and kindly pointed us in the right direction. Luckily, I was prepared with my first aid kit and bandaged up some cut toes.
After a bit more hanging out (it was SO hot), some of went to check out the Aquarium. It is one of the largest privately owned aquariums in Europe, so it was kind of a big deal. We got a student discount (woo) and had a blast! It was amazing. I have never seen so many strange fish in my life!
We even got to see a shark! My first one. Their skin is really interesting looking... the texture would be amazing to feel, if I didn't think my hand would get ripped off! But really, the fish were gorgeous. I am always amazed at how much detail has been put into all of these aquatic species, that most people don't even get to see!
After the aquarium we grabbed a quick bite to eat and went to the beach to watch the sunset. it was definitely one of the most beautiful sunsets I've seen in a while. One thing I always miss about home when I'm away is the sunset, as Port Elgin is on the shores of Lake Huron, which the sun sets over.

Although the traveling was pretty tiring, it was a wonderful weekend. It was great to have a weekend full of relaxing, and I really enjoyed hanging out with all of the girls.
Now it is Monday though, and there is lots to do! I went for a run along the river this morning and cleaned my room... finally, no more clutter (for now). Now, it is time to get down to business (not to defeat the Huns...) and get some homework done. I have a lot of reading to do for my literature class, as well as philosophy reading and an interview for my language class.
I have my coffee, and I am good to go!

1 comment:

  1. Everything looks and sounds amazing Nicole.

    I am so glad that you are finding there is life (safe and beautiful) outside of P.E.

    Keep enjoying!