A friend of mine from my program, Justin owns part of an old house in Southern France. Amy and I were headed to class one day when Justin told us he was getting a group of people together to road trip to his house for the weekend. We looked at each other and thought, ROAD TRIP, FRANCE, FREE place to stay… We’re in!!
And so began the crazy French weekend.
Friday October 1, 2010:
Amy and I piled into a tiny little Hertz rent-a-car in Barcelona. Our friend Luis was driving and Alé (Alejandro) and Mitch were also crammed in with us. Amy and I were not too happy about being passengers in Papi’s (Luis’s) car. You see, Papi is from Mexico and learned to drive in Mexico, which is where we first began to be worried. Then he tells us he hasn’t driven a stick shift in years…Not helping with the confidence. We caravanned with another car and our of the starting gates Luis looked promising, he got the car started, in reverse, out of the spot and headed out of the parking garage. Finkel (Aaron) on the other hand couldn’t figure out how to get his car out of neutral and into reverse. We headed towards the highway to get out of Barcelona and followed Finkel’s car because they had directions. It took about 2 hours to get through Barcelona because the traffic was horrendous. By the time we had gotten to the highway, Papi had stalled out about 75 times… Again, not a confidence booster. Once we got onto la autopista or the highway, Louis managed to drive without stalling out, so things were looked up! The drive was gorgeous for a good portion of the time, through the mountains and relaxing.
We blasted Alé’s Mexican Spanish techno/rap and surprisingly I knew a couple of the songs. The car we were following swerved to hit a connector that they hadn’t warned us we needed to be on so we got separated. That was the beginning of about 3 or 4 hours of separation and trying to find each other. (Let me remind you that they were the only car with directions…) We finally just headed north towards Montpelier, which we knew we needed to drive through before making our next turn.
Justin and his car headed up to the house the day before and
we finally got a hold of him to get better directions. We told us to head towards Anduze and then give him a call when we got close to Anduze. He let us know that the house doesn’t have an address and therefore, there is no way for us to get there without following him. After much to much McDonalds stops, trying to meet up with the other car, near death experiences and Amy and I yelling at Papi for driving like an idiot, both cars made it to Anduze.
Anduze is a tiny town nestled in the mountains in southern France. Amy and I were sold the second we saw the town square, with little cafés and the bell tower. Justin came and met us, then Papi and Finkel followed Justin’s car for about 15 minutes until we turned off the road down a dirt road. After about another 5 minutes and we were crossing an extremely narrow bridge and heading through a road lined with trees that looked like the entrance to a secret garden. It was also reminiscent of horror movies were you scream at the people on the TV screen, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU IDIOT DON’T GO DOWN THAT ROAD! Luckily, we were convinced enough that Justin wasn’t going to kill us in the French mountains.
We arrived at the house that is a 370-year-old house that used to be a lumber mill. The house still doesn’t have electricity or hot water. The house had been lit by candles everywhere. It is great! We all grabbed our luggage and started figuring out where everyone was going to sleep. Amy and I grabbed a little bedroom that overlooked the backside of the house to the mountains. We got a camp fire going in the pit in front of the house and popped some wine and ate bread, crackers and nutella, LOTS of nutella. We turned in for the night and looked forward to actually being able to see the house in the daylight.
Saturday October 2, 2010:
Amy and I were awoken by the sounds of people talking, getting ready and saying “breakfast”. We were thinking, crazies go back to sleep its still dark… turns out there was a shutter that blocked all light from our room. We headed downstairs and outside. Justin had gotten up early, headed into town, bought juice, cheese, jam, bread, and croissants. It was the greatest breakfast ever! After that we decided to head into town to a winery and pick up some wine for the day. That ended up not working out as planned so Justin and the 4 people in his car found their way to a winery while the other 10 of us stayed in Anduze and waited for them, Amy and wandered around the town and came across a cute little creperie and café. It was DELICIOUS food and a great place to be.
We enjoyed a relaxed lunch and then headed back to the house with everyone else. Also on the property (which is some hundreds of acres) is a river with a waterfall that falls into a swimming area. We walked to the river and some of us decided to brave the cold and jump off the waterfall. When I say brave the cold, I really mean it, you hit the water and you are so cold that it is hard to breathe. We hung out by the river for a couple hours jumping in and out of the river and enjoying ourselves. We then headed back to take naps and planned on cooking dinner over the fire.
I woke up at dusk and realized that no one else was awake and we were about to have absolutely no light left. I started lighting candles and putting them all over the house so that everyone could see when they woke up. Justin, Dillon and Hannah woke up and the 4 of us decide we were going into town for dinner since it had started raining and cooking on the fire wouldn’t work so well. No one else wanted to get up so we headed into town for a great dinner! The restaurant we went to is somewhere Justin had been going to for a while and they had been to the night before. The food was great and cheap and our waitress was a funny one! Hannah thought our waitress was hilarious and had Justin invite her back to the house to hang out with us. She said she had plans to go bowling with some friends but that we should come. Bowling in France with French kids, why not! We met up with 4 of her friends and had a crazy great time bowling with them, It was SO much fun. We finally headed back to Justin’s place around 3 am and just passed out.
Sunday October 3, 2010:
We all woke up in the morning and had some breakfast and started cleaning the house so that we could get ready to go. I went on my typically energizer cleaning mode and swept and mopped and through trash away and did dishes and fluffed pillows and everything until it was almost all clean. We needed to get back into Barcelona so we headed back onto the road. Louis was so pleased that he had remember how to drive stick that he got a little too confident and started passing other cars. One of these ended with us swerving too hard to the left, going off the side of the road into the gravel a bit, over correcting and sharply going back into our lane. I was not happy, told Luis he was an idiot and then he tried to pass another car and almost got hit head on. This time everyone else in the car started yelling at him. He didn’t try that again. We ended up lost (again) and stopped at McDonalds (again) and finally got into Barcelona after about 8 hours on the road. We returned the rental car and Amy and I made our way to the metro and I finally walked into the apartment at 10:30 pm. It was such a fun weekend but it was SO nice to be home with electricity and hot water. I can now cross Euro Road Trip off of my bucket list. In turn however, I added learn how to drive stick so if the problem ever rises again, I am capable of taking the wheel!
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