Foux Da Fa Fa

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Where I stayed
Les Brindelliers

Flag of France  , Normandy,
Monday, August 31, 2009

Finally in France!  It's one of those pinch-me-so-I-know-it's-real moments.  So much of this journey we just keep going day after day and I don't really feel like I'm 'traveling' per say.  But today we've crossed over to mainland Europe and are in a country where we can't speak the language very well.  It's all a new start.  Things are different and exciting again!

Watched the sun rise into a clear sky after our boat docked at about 6:30am.  It continued to be beautiful and sunny all day.  I had been busy trying to convince myself that it would be rainy in France on the day we arrived.  Mostly because I've soo been looking forward to a change in the weather and I didn't want to be disappointed.  Not a cloud in the sky - except for one.  For a moment, I thought that England was after me as there was a long dark expanse creeping out of the NW.  But as we pedaled further and further away from the coast, it receded and settled over the UK.  LOL  I soaked up every last ray and marveled over strange things like shimmering heat waves which I haven't seen since Ontario before we left. 

One of the most interesting stories of the day was when we were in Caen.  This was the only large city that needed navigating all day.  Not wanting to travel the 110-130km motorways, Brian found a canal route that went right past the Pegasus Bridge.  This was a tactical point of the Germans during the WWII.  The British flew in and took over between midnight and 3am the night of June 6, 1944. 

Stopping at a corner in the city to determine our next turn, an old man on a bike pulled up and asked if we needed help.  Brian pointed on our map and mentioned what road we were looking to get to.  The man grabbed the map and ran after 2 men who were going in to get their morning cafe and spoke rapid Francais to them for a minute or tow.  Returning with the map, he hopped onto his bike and told us to follow him!  We chased this man all through town barely able to keep up, while he puffed on his cigar the whole way.  Every light was green as we zipped over the road, through cross walks and onto paths finally stopping at our exit.  Then, as quickly as he arrived, he said goodbye and was on his way!

Taking back roads we enjoyed smooth tarmac and no traffic.  The terrain here is much different than the UK.  Long gradual hills which are easier on the legs, but harder on the endurance.  Everything seems larger here:  fields stretch further and the wide sky is not obstructed by many trees.  Everything seems larger - except the cars.  I must get some pictures to post.  Tiny little autos zip down the roads. 

My first taste of France was a memorable one.  Each town has it's own Boulangier which is my favourite place.  Almost impossible to drive by without stopping, it's filled with beautiful breads and pastries.  Decisions are impossible to make as your brain in pre-occupied with producing saliva and can't think of anything else.  Or perhaps it's because I'm cycling and my stomach ravages at the best of times.  Finally I decided to choose a croissant-like pastry which was filled with Jambon and a creamy like custard and smothered with more cheese on top and baked to perfection.  Incredible!  I thought of taking a picture, but it was mostly devoured by then.  Brian and I may need to do a lot more cycling... 

We came to rest at the top of a hill at the highest point in all of Normandy:  Les Brindelliers owned by Jennie and Kevin who immediately played a joke on us, so we knew it was going to be OK.  They have a home that was built in 1849 and was bombed during WWII and left abandoned.  So they have been doing a lot of work over the last few years!  They're turning it into a little self-sufficient farm holding.  We're both looking forward to staying here and learning from them, as well as getting out an exploring the area. 

Fumbling through the language barrier is just what I said:  fumbling.  Limited vocab or nouns and almost no way to string them together, I make feeble attempts.  Seems that reading and listening are easier to understand, but speaking...I am looking forward to developing this over time though.  Until then, this is about the extent of my French.  Enjoy!
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