The Spain beaches behind us, we took it easy on the way home. I mean, who wants to rush back from vacation? Well….
First stop, Carcassonne. We only stopped for lunch, but so did everyone else who was travelling in France that day, which was everyone in France. Here’s a tip. Don’t do that. In fact, even without the crowd we weren’t all that impressed with the town. While the idea of it, a medieval fortress on the UNESCO World Heritage list, makes it sound like something you should see, it’s become so overrun with tourist shops and ice cream counters that the true history of it is hard to find, especially in a mob like the one we were in. And while we’re on the subject of things that France hasn’t done properly, let’s add public bathrooms to the list. Just trust me when I say, always carry tissues with you and don’t be surprised when you enter a stall and find nothing but a hole in the floor. Honestly, I used better equipped restrooms in Kenya.
Our travels that day ended in Sarlat-la-Canéda in the Dordogne department of the Aquitaine region of France. Yep, it’s another medieval village but this one is known for its foie gras, not its ice cream counters. In fact, the goose is the symbol of the town. We wandered, happy to be out of the car and on our feet.
We spent the following night in the north of France in Saint Malo, a walled port city on the Brittany coast, famous for its history of piracy and its crazy high and low tides. It was nearly completely destroyed in World War II, though you wouldn’t know it. Having been rebuilt on the original city plan, it looks as old as its history. Saint Malo is also a working port city, with a daily ferry to and from Portsmouth in the UK so my English was accepted everywhere we went.
Just a few hours from home, you would think we might have taken the last day driving slowly, stopping for a leisurely lunch, maybe visiting Mont Saint Michel to poke around. No. Katherine had a timeline. Mont Saint Michel can wait! It’s not going anywhere. But it’s not everyday that British royalty stops in your hometown for a visit.
Kate, William and Harry (and several other heads of state who are not as glamorous) were in Mons for a ceremony at St. Symphorien, a tiny British and German military cemetery just down the road, one hundred years to the day that England entered World War I. And I wasn’t going to miss that. The ceremony at the cemetery wasn’t open to the public, but the royals visited City Hall in the Grand Place and spent about 45 seconds waving from the balcony. And if that’s not a good reason to speed home from vacation, I don’t know what is.
So to recap…
car days: 5
beach days: 5
pool days: 7
geocaches found: 6
giant cathedrals seen: 2
tapas plates devoured: 12
glasses of sangria: not enough
enormous bridges crossed: 1
medieval villages visited: 3
properly equipped public restrooms: 0
approximate number of Spanish words used: 6
(Gracias, Señora Clayton!)