Saturday, April 28, 2012

Vacances, the finale...

Monday afternoon, after our swimmingly good day-so-far, we headed into Argeles-sur-Mer for a bit of exploration.

Pokey little streets and fun coloured buildings all packed together, the ancient beside the just plain old, balconies and street lamps, guttering and window boxes... all very cool and quaint.

So we wandered around a bit.

Found a cool old church.

The town of Argeles-sur-Mer is a little way off from the beach, so we consulted our handy dandy GPS and found Argeles Plage... the beach.

Ah, the Mediterranean.

The palms kept reminding us of Florida... not so much the temperature, malheureusement.

We had pizza for dinner, with a view of the beach. Louis was a bit over it, unfortunately, and we had to pull out the bubbles. Problem is: once they're out you're not allowed to put them away.

 Unless you offer something better... like sand. And for want of a bucket... my shoes.

A family photo, which will very soon be out of date.

Tuesday dawned cool and not-so-clear. With our hopes high we packed our togs, thinking we could turn toward the Mediterranean and make the most of a hot day, if one showed up. Meanwhile, we had another funky town to explore: Elne.

Wonder if this guy owned this car before being allotted this parking space...?

Saw these green bamboo-looking pipes on loads of buildings, including on the castle at Collioure. 
Strange but cool.

Elne boasts an abbey, which we decided to visit.

The courtyard was like the garden of Gethsemane in a movie... or that's what it made me think of.

We climbed these well-worn spiral stairs,

up to the roof,

and the view. Then down the pokey stairs, slow and careful, to the courtyard.
You can't actually go in the courtyard, but the galleries were interesting - beautiful architecture and, for something else, a few sarcophagi. 

Inside the cathedral.

That's quite the organ. 

And in the basement... an archaeological exhibition. 
There was also pottery from the 4th century! Kind of blows my mind, how old these places are.

It was sunny but blowing something of a gale, so we headed to the beach, and then, toute de suite, found shelter... 

Shelter that served fabulicious ice creams, coffees and crepes!


Unfortunately Louis woke half way through a nap when we stopped driving and was not at his best. He perked up a little bit when I started shoveling strawberry ice cream into his mouth, but even that didn't last long.

So we took Louis back to camp for a proper nap. The boys went off to get some groceries. Michelle and I hung out and had a good, long yarn. After a delicious dinner we played Carcasonne all evening (cough-again-cough). In the morning it was clean-up time.

We had to catch a train from Argeles-sur-Mer, but not until after one last stop for pastries at/near the beach.
The park over the road from the beach... no sand in our chausson aux pomme, but unfortunately the park had a bit of a pong. A doggy pong. Probably. Yuck.
Beach was gorgeous. 

And Louis was happy.

Farewell to the Mediterranean, for now.

Adam and Michelle had to get on the road so they dropped us off at the train station. We grabbed some lunch then took an earlier train than planned. 

Waiting, briefly, for the train at Argeles-sur-Mer

Louis playing with Luuk's face: a game which lasts longer than you'd think.

Unfortunately we couldn't take our next train earlier than originally planned. So we ended up in Montpellier for a couple of hours. Didn't go far from the train station, laden with luggage and all. 

First impressions of Montpellier: beautiful but rough, but perhaps because of our proximity to the train station.

Louis wouldn't sleep on the first train - why, oh why? - and we were feeling past it as well. 
Therefore, first priority: coffee.

And next, to find a play ground. Which turned out to be very easy: the park right across the road from the station! Handy.

One more long train trip - 3 hours by fast train to Paris...
We ate dinner, played games, read and relaxed.

Louis slept!

And Luuk played with the settings on the camera.

Voila! Fini.

And tomorrow we're off to the Netherlands for four days. I've finally finished doing all the laundry and have started packing again. We're driving this time, so don't need to be quite so compact: don't need to be able to carry everything through a bustling train station. Also, we're staying with Luuk's family, so we don't need to take sheets and towels. We're going north and have no expectations of swimming, or even sun really, so that narrows down the outfit selection.

I think, after this trip, it'll be time to slow down, to rest and nest... in the necessary rather than superfluous sense, i.e. should find this soon-coming baby a bed, something vaguely girly to wear, a car seat, and some new born size nappies. I'm trying to think what else we'll need. I suppose I could pack myself a bag for the hospital once I've unpacked from the Netherlands. That'd be awfully organised, wouldn't it?

I painted a huge mural for Louis just before he was born, speaking of nesting. We brought it with us, folded up like a sheet. It's still folded up, but I keep meaning to unfurl it and put it up. Perhaps I'll paint on some new things, some more birds and animals, for the new baby and we can put it up in the bedroom. 

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