Night Location: St Malo, France
Song of the Day: 1234 - Feist
Mumisode of the Day: There were some odd glances and confused expressions during the car performance of the song 'Reproduction' from Grease 2, "Where does the pollen go?"
This is a very exciting blog. We are 'home' in our favourite place, St Malo. Amber and Gemma fell in love with this town during their trip here in 2007 and since then have been waiting to return. It is a town that is right on the coast of France, surrounded by beaches and closed in by an ancient wall that you can walk around on. The area is really tidal and the various other islands can be reached on foot over a causeway during low tide.
First things first, however. From Rouen, following a leisured breakfast, we made a stop in Caen, famous for its Memorial to Peace. Caen was the first major city that needed to be won following the beach landings on D-Day and as such it was mostly destroyed during WWII. As David had not been here before, Amber and he explored the memorial with its displays from the end of WWI, through to the end of the Cold War. A brilliant memorial.
During this time, Gemma and Dad visited the twin abbeys of Caen founded by William the Conquerer and his Queen Matilda of England, both of whom are buried in Caen. The main part of the town was also explored, where you can see the only half-timbered house to have survived the shelling of the city.
After a quick lunch in the memorial cafeteria, Claude let us down magnificently again as he claimed and continues to claim that he had never heard of the street that we are staying on in St Malo. Fortunately, Gemma had copied a picture of the town from Google Maps, and so Amber was able to direct us through the city gate and into the maze of cobbled lanes to the front door of the apartment.
Then came a very bizarre experience. We are staying in an apartment quite close to the city ramparts that is owned privately and rented out to holiday-makers. The lady who usually rents the apartment is on holiday herself and so left the keys with her cleaning lady, who unfortunately for us, did not speak one word of English. This is quite challenging as we do not speak one word of French. Even the "Merci" sounds that we make are not right. It was quite disconcerting as we were handing over a 700Euro deposit that we anticipate will be returned to us, however we could not make ourselves understood and therefore have to be prepared to kiss that money goodbye! The lady showed us around the house talking non-stop in French and Gemma and Amber smiled and nodded in response.
The apartment is beautiful and it is possible to see the water from the windows. The only negative side are the 65 spiralling stairs to the top. This would be fine if it were just people; well not fine, but tolerable. As you know though, we have a constantly increasing and expanding mound. This mound would not reach the top without a struggle. Gemma and Amber had the genius idea to attach the country road bags to the backpacks and then load on the backpacks before making the ascent. Sounds brilliant in principle; not so great in practice. Even walking on the footpath outside was challenging. You felt like an astronaut walking on the moon. The Country Road bag would sway from side to side and throw you off balance. Not really what you want when you are making a hazardous ascent. It was at this point that Gemma and Amber got the giggles and could hardly move. After the two front steps (which to be fair, are enormous) they were exhausted. As they had gone up previously, they knew what was to come. Sticking to their motto of "Just keep walking," they finally reached the top. No one was talking; we were trying to stand still. Amber was swaying like an Oompa-Lumpa while she was trying to unbolt the door.
The three children set off shortly after to explore the ramparts. We saw a fantastic sunset over the water as the tide rolled in. How lucky are we that we get to spend four days here?!