Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My trip to Nantes!

It's really amazing how no matter where I go in Bretagne so far, the cities all seem so much alike. Well obviously they are different, but I'm so fascinated with the architecture and the amount of time they must have spent on one châteaux. The group and I went to Nantes this past saturday and it was a very interesting time! The bus ride itself was similar to the last one, we passed a lot of countryside and cows and deer, and then we got into the outskirts of the city and of course, like any outskirt it was a bit dingy. But as soon as we got to the heart of the city we all started getting very excited because we drove around the châteaux by the Loire river. It was magnifique! The bus let us off right in front of it and we all fought our way through the wind and cold to go across the mote and into the courtyard. Once inside, a really intricately designed well was just to the right of us, as well as the stairs up to the chateaux. The view from the top of the stairs was so pretty! We could see a far ways out and saw a lot of old buildings, the church and all the natural beauty like the twisted trees. I kept saying it throughout the entire day that the trees all reminded me of something one would see in a Dr. Seuss book, they are very bizarre.
Once we roamed around the top of the watchtowers we walked about the city in search of the old church. The Cathedral de saint paul was one of our next stops, and it was absolutely beautiful! The domed ceiling was so high up, and the hall leading down past all the little chapels looked like it could go on forever. There were a lot of chapels placed to the sides of the corridor, and in each of them was either a painting, statues, a memorial, stained glass window, or a confessional. I took the most amazing picture ever of one of the paintings consisting of Jesus on the cross and his desciples in different scenes, and a beam of light from the window just above the painting gave this amazing angelic affect to my photo. Once we wandered to the back of the church, we saw the ceremonial candles that one lights to give respect. Also we made a little friend... a black and white, 15 year old dog who was the most adorable dog ever. He waddled up to each person as they came up to his owner and loved being held and petted. The majority of the time the dog was more the center of attention than the church itself!
After leaving the Cathedral we headed off to another spot near the center to view some more really old architecture, and after a few more of these excursions we were let off our leashes and were able to roam around the city. By the time our tour had ended we were all starving and literally found the closet restaurant nearby. It was a really cool, chic little place, and when we went upstairs into their dining area, the ceilings seemed like they were only high enough to fit a person who is about 5'9, and after that you need to crouch.
So after being very touristy and taking more pictures of the decore we ordered our food, and I got leg of duck with sliced seasoned potatoes and a salade verte. In France their side salads are not the usual tomato, cucumber, onion and carrot kind of salad, its literally just lettuce. Along with some light dressing on top. The other girls ordered duck with a red fruit sauce (Sarah), a caramelized salmon over cooked veggies (Jess) a burger with all the fixings (kayla) and Kathleen ordered the same as I got. They were all extremely tasty and we were very full... though not full enough to get a cafe au lait!
Once we left the little restaurant it was time to explore the city and see if we could find any good shopping. We stopped in the main shopping center in the middle of the city and looked in on all the cute little boutiques and bijouteries (jewelry stores) and by the time we got done at what resembled a Barnies, our time was almost up to roam around the city. So we left the Galerie Lafayette and headed back to our meeting spot. Once we believed everyone was accounted for we started to make our way back to where our bus was parked.
So I know the French love their food, but I think if there is anything they love more it's their alcohol. We met the prime example of what a drunken French person really id. Our first encounter happened while we were walking past the stores and an old, squat man started pouncing on the back of peoples shoulders and laughing hysterically. We all ignored it and thought, oh well, he will soon go away. No. He did not. He followed us all the way to the bus, and during our walk he would randomly started running towards peoples backs screaming "CHARGEZ!" or charge in English. Yes he was quite the character. It wasn't until Sarah egged him on by talking to the crazy, old kook, that we found out he thought he was a general in the Battle of Waterloo, and we were his troops. I kid you not. He continued to scream Charge! every minute or two and when we were getting onto our bus he wanted to come to. He was very upset however when the bus driver said he couldn't come with us. And thus, the general's troops were gone, and he was alone once more.
After trying to focus once more on the trip, and every now and then people would shout CHARGEZ! on the bus, we ended up going about a mile or two down the road to this Japanese temple. Why we stopped there is a mystery to us, it was a very random place to go. We walked into the building and saw fish tanks with different types of fish in them, as well as small lobsters and an eel. Then in the next hallway there was an expedition of Japanese/French artwork hanging from the walls and mounted around the center of the room. Some of the works included pictures of Asian cops speaking French and playing baseball with baguettes on a street corner, and Asian markets with some oddly distorted drunken Asian men. I know I'm sure you're wondering what on earth we were doing here too. The next hallway consisted of mini models of the Japanese temple, and a large glass window which showed the zen garden in the middle of the temple itself. Complete with lines in the sand, and mossy boulders strewn around in the yard. I'm going to take a guess that it all would have made more sense if we hadn't just randomly pulled over and got out.
So that basically ended the day right there, and the busride home was us all planning our dinner. I made shrimp scampi for me and the girls :). So there is another wild and amusing trip, and we are going to be having another one to Vannes, another city by the coast, and also very historique! Time to take a well deserved nap! Miss you all, and a tout a l'heure! A bientot pour la jour prochaine!

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