Monday, June 27, 2005

Europe 2005 - Exploring Southern France

It was a nice break to get out of Toulouse once we had L.'s backpack. Now the first thing that is studied in any art history class are the cave paintings from Lascaux cave. So the first thing we did was go to see the Lascaux caves. So many people visited the caves that they were getting damaged do they built exact replicas. I was not sure what the expect but I could not tell the difference and did not feel ripped off. the tour was in English and the guide pointed out a lot of interesting things about the tools that they used to paint them 17000 years ago and that it took 5 years just to paint the replica cave since the painter used the same materials.
One of the things that we saw one one of the Europe shows was they went kayaking down a river to see all the villas in France. It looked fun but I never thought we would get around to doing it. However one of the things I found while trapped in the toulouse airport was a brochure for kayaking in different parts of france. It was the most bizarre thing to be floating down the river and just float by these medieval houses and towns. I had asked the guy that we rented the kayaks from if it was OK to get out of the kayaks while going down the river and his reply was "sure you are in the wilderness". His definition and mine of what wilderness are are a little different. We floated past roads, corn fields, and heard the church bells chime through the trees. It was really peaceful and we were the only ones on the river until we reached the city at the end. We floated with the current most of the time and since the other group canceled that was supposed to go that day we did not have to wait for the van to take us back to our car.

Roman Aqueduct- We just had to stop in Nimes and see the roman aqueduct.( most famous from a Volkswagen commercial.) It was really funny to see something that took 500 romans to build just so the people in the city could flush the toilets.

Shopping- the grocery stores are in malls here. They consist of your ordinary mall stores on one side with the grocery store running lengthwise down the other side. The malls are about the same size as the ones in the USA making these grocery stores huge. They sell everything, food, clothes, furniture, swimming pools. They are bigger then "super" K-mart, Target, or any Walmart I have seen. The workers wear rollerblades to get around the stores.
When buying fruit and vegetables there is a central weigh station that weighs and tags your fruit since the 30 to 40 cashiers lining down the side do not have scales. It was funny to see 2 complete grocery isles lined on both sides with yogurt of every type. Cheese had another 2 isles for soft, hard, and a separate area for fresh. So i am guessing that is how they get their milk products because the only actual milk being sold was on the end cap of one isle and looked like it was mainly for coffee. By the way the yogurt and cheese blow anything away we have tried before and we are making it a point to have some of each each day.

Language barrier- for all the people that have said that the French hate anyone speaking English. (we heard it from a British guy on the bus to Toulousé too) we have not seen any of that. A lot of people know English as long as you ask first and there has been someone else in the crowd that came forward a couple of times to help. We did have fun watching Batman begins in French. It was a visual enough movie that I think we got the main gist of it.

Driving- it took me a while to get used to driving on the right side again. I have gone back to getting my right and left confused and that didn't happen in Britain or Ireland so maybe all left handed people should move there. The freeways in France are bigger, wider and the speed limit is 130 km/hr (80mph). The down side is they are all toll roads. We average about 20 euro a day in tolls.

Hotels- they are cheaper here. We can get a hotel room here for what we were spending on hostels in england.

Music- I was not expecting to hear anything with English in in the music. as it worked out there was about 30% of the music was English.

Allergies- completely gone. I have no idea how I have any English blood in me with how allergic I was there. I also guess that the plants here are almost identical to those in California.

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