A rather boring day. First, we got up and had a gloriously good breakfast. The beverages were watered down. We then drove about an hour and a half through rather flat country. Many of the towns had “troglodite houses,” houses built in the cliff using it for 3 of the 4 walls. We then arrived at a winery in Saumur. They made a sparkling white which was actually champagne but not from the Champagne area. It was wonderful! I loved it. … I guess my wine experience wasn’t over — just for red wine! We then rode about 6 hours to St Malo. The most beautiful city I have seen on our tour thus far, sail boats lined the coast and the old city was gorgeous. We had a dinner at which we ordered a white wine — I didn’t have any. I am quite addicted to Orangina. A few of us left at 9:30 for an evening walk in the old city. All the stores were closed and the city was beautiful. We bought some ice cream. I had passion fruit. It was quite wonderful. We then “strolled” back to the Hotel Mascotte (where we were staying). It was great.
» 30 August 2007
I don’t know what I thought was boring about that day. I could spend the rest of my days in St Malo, which I had figured out the day we arrived. It was one of the greatest moments of the two weeks, strolling the streets of the old city. “Old city” refers to the original city of St Malo, encased in a stone wall. The city has outgrown this wall and now spills out around it into a rather large place. I have no clue why I put quotation marks around the word strolled.
The drinks we had with breakfast were all very watered down. Already, we had seen that breakfast includes coffee, orange juice, water, & milk. It seems odd, but the portions are all very small. The winery was interesting. Making wine is a rather slow and uneventful process.
If I am ever in Europe again, I would like to spend my time in St Malo — or at the very least visit again. It was my idea of heaven. I think that explains why I was such a nerd with my descriptions of it. I was 16 after all.
» 7 May 2016
My time if France was rushed; there was so much planned for us to see in two weeks that when I look back on it, I think of it as more like a two month vacation. I clearly remember the moments I believed would be those I carried with me for the rest of my life, and I remember trying to dwell in them slightly more in order to create the memories I knew would be so important. In many cases I was spot on, and those events are absolute stand out moments. But rushing in a bus through the Loire Valley, I couldn’t know how the troglodyte houses would stick with me. I think of those homes often, enchanted by the fairy tale beauty of little cottages stuck in the sides of cliffs, sprawling communities that resemble so much other villages in France, but with almost disregard for the rock structures around them, or rather in spite of them. I wanted to go in the houses, see the rocky interior walls, experience how these people lived. But we were only driving through, on to bigger and more typically touristy destinations. Saint-Malo, one of the most visited towns in France by those who do not live in France, was one of these places. One of these places we were expected to be found and so had been placed. Don’t get me wrong, I still hold Saint-Malo in my heart as the jewel of my time in France. It’s the place I would wrap myself in if I could, live in, revisit, talk about. However, twenty years on it seems like I might have missed out on experiences that would have stood out even more.
When I was 28, at the time of the first comments made to this journal, I had not yet figured out how to own the things that make me… me. I had not embraced the quirks, good and bad, that had always been a part of me. I had not yet nourished the nerd inside of me that I love so much now. I was so much of a people pleaser that I routinely changed who I was to be the person I thought the world wanted me to be. I’m sure I’ll read this entry in ten years and think how immature it seems as well, but I feel so proud to have come so far in my own understanding of myself. It’s one of those lessons that cannot be taught. I may have described the city of Saint-Malo in ways that my 28 year old self found nerdy, but I’m glad I did. I was genuinely elated at being there and I had not learned to deny my joys at that point, not to myself anyway. That would come later.
If I knew that the only thing I would be able to do on a trip to France would be to stroll through an ancient city on a warm Spring evening and enjoy an ice cream, it would still be totally worth it.