France at Last!

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Henry and Sandy with Miniature Horse in Quimper

On May 22 we arrived in Quimper, Brittany, France at 8 PM. We had left Boston at 6 PM the previous night. Allowing for the 6 hour time difference, that is 20 hours of travel. Plane from Boston to Dublin, change to a plane for Paris, 3 hour layover in Paris, train to Rennes, one hour layover, train to Quimper. We could have driven to Audierne from Paris, but it is a 6 hour drive and I knew we would be exhausted. The cost for renting a car in Paris and dropping it off in Quimper (no car rentals in Audierne) was about the same as two first class tickets on the train. I was afraid I would fall asleep at the wheel while driving. As it was, I got at least three hours of napping on the trains.

We stayed at a nice small hotel for the night because the busses don’t run at that hour and we couldn’t get into our rental apartmentĀ  until the next afternoon anyway. Here are some photos from Quimper the next day.

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Tower and Walls around the Old Section of Quimper

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Old Town Quimper with Half-Timbered Buildings

Quimper is a lovely medium sized town with a big old town pedestrian area. The stone and half-timbered buildings are very picturesque and therefore draw a lot of tourists. There were several tour groups from a cruise ship in town, but we managed to avoid them. Once you get away from the souvenir shops and principal historic sites, you have the town to yourself and the locals. Quimper is a 50 minute bus ride from Audierne, where we will be staying for the next seven weeks, so we plan to visit it again to sightsee and shop.

There is a large food hall, where there are several food stalls. There are shops selling fish, meat, cheese, sausage, chocolate, pastries, etc. Most of the produce is sourced locally and is usually marked where it came from. Below is a picture of one corner of the food hall.

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Food Hall in Quimper

One stall that you don’t see in the US is the horsemeat butcher:

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Horsemeat Butcher Stall

That’s it for now. More from Audierne in a few days.

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Mission San Luis Rey

Mission San Luis Rey

Mission San Luis Rey

Above is the front of Mission San Luis Rey, the church on the left and the cemetery entrance on the right. The mission is in Oceanside California, about 2 miles from my son’s house, where we have been staying.

The mission was founded in 1798 and is the largest of the 21 missions onĀ  El Camino Real, the Royal Road, running through California. It is still in use and is run by the Franciscan religious order. The inside of the church was renovated last year and a picture of it is shown below:

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This is a chapel on the side of the church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary:

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The mission is a beautiful, peaceful place with great landscaping and large trees. They also have a museum, a school and an interesting graveyard.

Well, this Friday we drive to Phoenix for my son’s college graduation and Sunday we fly to Boston. We arrive in Boston at midnight Sunday and the we leave for France at 6 PM on Monday. We won’t arrive at our first hotel in France until 8PM on Tuesday after two plane rides and two train rides. By then, we may not be speaking to each other.

Our next post will probably be from France.

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We’re in Oceanside California

We are now in Oceanside California visiting our son, his wife and our grandson. In the last 30 days, we left our winter rental in Myrtle Beach, drove to West Virginia to visit our three daughters and their families. We then drove to Massachusetts for a couple of days before flying to California. In about a month, we’ll be flying back to Boston to stay overnight and then leaving for France. I think you can see where the name Geriatric Gypsies came from. Oh yea, we also celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary in the same 30 days. Below is a picture from our balcony in Myrtle Beach and one of the pier at Oceanside. Do you get the idea we like the ocean?

Myrtle Beach Condo

Myrtle Beach Condo

Oceanside CA

Oceanside CA

Oceanside has some very nice street markets. There are 2 markets on Thursday, one in the morning and one in the evening. The morning one is smaller, but has more food specialty items and produce stands, which we prefer. The evening market has all sorts of ready to eat items in almost any ethnic genre you can think of. Both markets have crafts, services, health items, etc. This is a view of the evening market: We were visiting a stall that sold french bread and pastries when the man behind the counter noticed that Sandy’s t-shirt had Mont St. Michel on the front. It so happens that he was born in Mont St. Michel and spent quite a while there. He came to the US and sold his French bakery items, but sales were not strong initially. When he doubled the size of the pastries, sales increased considerably. Kind of reinforces the stereotype that Europeans have of us. Below is a photo of the proprietor and his wife.

Oh La Vache (Holy Cow) Bakery

Oh La Vache (Holy Cow) Bakery

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Strategy for this year’s trip to Europe

Last year, we went on a three month trip to Europe to visit places we had been before and also some new places. One goal was to find places we might want to stay for extended periods. We spent time in Venice, Tuscany, Sicily, Spain, France, England, Wales and Scotland. It was great fun, but often tiring to pack up and move every three days or so.

Two locations we fell in love with were the Cotswolds in England and Brittany in northeast France. Venice and London are always enjoyable and we will continue to spend time there when possible, but not this trip. We wanted to spend an extended time in one location so we could relax and get to know the place. We decided on Brittany because we love the old stone buildings and the profusion of flowers. We are also foodies and are looking forward to the artisan bread, cheese, chocolates, and other goodies.

We wanted a place in a medium sized town that would have its own shops and plenty of places to walk. Rental cars in Europe are relatively expensive, so we decided not to rent one long term and rely primarily on public transportation and walking. We love to walk and need the exercise, but it will be an experiment to see if we get bored without a car.

The place we decided on was Audierne. It is a medium sized town with a salt water harbor that used to be a fishing village. There is still some commercial fishing there, but it is largely a yachting and tourist area. We have rented an apartment overlooking the harbor for seven weeks, starting the third week in May. Below is a view of the harbor from one of our two tiny balconies.

All the shops and cafes are within a few blocks of the apartment. There is a bakery, a cheese shop, a butcher, a chocolate shop and several other specialty food shops. There are public markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays. This sounds like heaven to us.

More on Audierne and Brittany later. After Brittany, we will spend 6 days in the Cotswolds, four days in Wales, and 4 days in Dublin before returning to the US.

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Some background on us

Henry: We are Henry and Sandy. We have been married to each other for 50 years. In October 2012 we sold our home and rented a condo on the water in Myrtle Beach for the winter.

At the same time we were selling the house, we had a significant health scare, which caused us to re-evaluate our lifestyles. We decided that we could rent a place in a warm climate for the winter, and then travel to foreign places and visit (a.k.a. scrounge off) relatives for the rest of the year. The money we would have spent for rent or a mortgage in the summer could be used to fund our travels.

Last spring/summer we went to Italy, Sicily, Spain, Brittany, the Cotswolds, Wales and Scotland. We were in Europe for about three months.

This year, we will be going back to Brittany and the Cotswolds , Wales and then Dublin. We will be blogging fairly regularly when we get to Brittany.

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