Saturday, October 24, 2009

climbing adventure - dordogne region

Nice days climbing in a little crag in the Dordogne...pretty fantastic rock features in this area and some nice 5c - 6c routes, lots of small finger pockets which were quite sharp on the fingers though. We were even all alone for the whole day which was a nice change from being constantly stuck in a city.

Went out for a well deserved beer and a cepe omelette (local mushroom delicacy) in the local town Brantome. Pretty amazing scenery for a small town in the middle of nowhere in France - massive abbey alongside the river built in 769, pretty young hey!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Head in the clouds

So straight after Dr G flew out we headed off to Verbier, Switzerland to visit Jo and Gareth and see the 15th Stage of Le Tour de France, which just happened to be finishing there. We decided to drive this time rather that fly because it takes just about as long once you transfer all the way to Verbier (9hrs), which as it turns out was a great idea as its really beautiful scenery - very different from the completely dull trip from Melbourne to Sydney of about the same time.

We were only in Verbier for 4 day (too many holidays already), the first day was beautiful and we all hiked up the mountain a little way and did some yoga with million dollar views...I could certainly handle doing that each morning. Unfortunately the next two days it was pouring with rain, 15 deg colder and snowing 500 m higher than us, yay for unpredictable high mountain temperatures (Verbier is at 1500 m). So that killed all our grand adventuring plans of mountain biking and rock climbing...grrrr.
Luckily, the weather cleared up on the last day for the tour. The final part of the stage is a 8 km climb from Le Chable to Verbier (about 8 %), so we camped out on the corner in the last 1 km...was fantastic fun, would love to follow the whole tour one year. Also silly us forgot to bring our bikes with us from Bordeaux so we could have a go at the hill while the road was closed off, oh well.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Another public holiday long week in France - Fete de la National (aka Bastille day) a perfect opportunity to escape France and head back to Spain.

First stop - San Sebatian which is a lovely, but entirely too tourist infested town on the north coast of Spain. You actually struggle to find someone who doesnt speak english. So we just made a quick lunch stop and moved on to quieter, less-touristy places.

We set up camp in Mundaka, a beach town known for its surfing...although when we arrived we were slightly confused by this as there was not a sign of a wave around. Even the next day as we baked ourselves in the sun, unaware that we were getting completely sunburnt (good job coming from Aus and NZ you think we would be experts at not getting burnt), there was no sign of waves. But finally on the last day, when the weather was grey and miserable the waves appeared - but I still think the Aus beaches are better (way too spoiled)! NOTE: see pastey white bodies in photos this is pre-sun burn, we were all red for about a week, followed by much peeling, but now are not so white....some might even say we are carrot-brown/orange due to the entirely uneffective carrot containing sunscreen marty recommended to us...hmmmm ;)

So while Mundaka was a lovely place, it contained all of three restaurants and the occasional very small supermarket, so we had to escape each night in search of food. One night we ventured to Bilbao for a yummy dinner, but owing to our roasted red bodies we didnt hang around too long. Definitely the highlight of the food and drink was a fantastic tapas bar in Vitoria (kindly recommended by lonelyplant) where we all tried to decide if we should kick the chemistry career and begin a Tapas bar????

Saturday, July 04, 2009

tennis champion

So I go and teach Marty how to play tennis, then in his very first competition he rude!!! (btw I lost)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Paris adventure

With one of the many many long weekends in May we had a trip to Paris :) It is certainly very nice to be able to hop on a TGV train in Bordeaux and end up in Paris 3 hours later! oh and earning Euros makes Paris not so expensive.

We had a fantastic dinner on the grass of the Eiffel Tower and watched the sun set...awwww ;) then went up the tower at night with the other billions of tourists (obviously we werent the first to think of going up the tower just before closing to avoid the crowds).

There was plenty of time to visit all the other sites. It was actually a great time of year to be in Paris as its not peak season but still really warm weather. We managed to get into the Louvre without waiting in line at all. And we discovered a really cool tour in the Sewers of Paris which sounds pretty gross but was actually a good way to see the history - there are even street signs under there.

The main event for Paris was Roland Garros...we went and watched Dominik in the qualifiers and unfortunately he lost so we didnt get tix to the main draw. Anyway I would certainly go to the qualifiers again as its exactly the same quality tennis and atmosphere but without all the people.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Archachon v2009

this is what happens when an IT building burns...oops

...and the chem building is right next door so lucky it didnt spread or BOOM!

Monday, May 04, 2009

mamoth cycling adventure

So a quiet innocent day of cycling - just to get back into it after not much during winter - turned into a crazy 115 km ride, which my legs and bum are really regretting now....but it was really beautiful cycling through the vinyards in the Entre Deux Mers region of Bordeaux! really amazing.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Escalade in Santa Gadea, Spain

Back to Spain again for 4 days of Bouldering in Santa Gadea, a very very tiny town in the north of Spain about 5 hrs drive from Bordeaux. The climbing area was only discovered a few years ago and has been kept a nice secret by the spanish - but maybe not for much longer! Over the three days of climbing we only managed to see a very small part of the area but you could easily spend a year there and not see everything :)

....and Marty's bestest climb of the trip, a fantastic dyno - boom! unfortunately that meant I was in charge of the camera so the photo doesnt full capture his flying moment.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Easter in Spain

With spring setting in now, we thought we might escape France for a bit on a mission to find food with flavour. So we hired a shitty little lawnmower/car (Citron C2), which really struggled on the 130 km/hr autoroutes, and headed to the north of Spain for 9 days. Barcelona was definitely the highlight of the trip, but all the other smaller cities had something interesting too.

First stop San Sebastian/Bilbo which despite the freezing cold and rain (...ah yes it does rain in Spain on the Plain) are definitely on the top of my return-to-when-its-nice-and-warm list. Truely amazing tapas in these places!!! Bilbo is home to a much talked about Guggenheim museum which doesnt really fit with the rest of the towns architecture but it does have the cutest little red 'Bilbobus'...

Next stop Pamplona - home of the Running of the Bulls. Randomly on our drive there, in some small town which remains nameless, we were told to pull over by a bunch of locals - and a few seconds later billions of cyclists zoomed by. I appeared to be standing at the piss-here zone which was rather entertaining! After much searching we discovered it was a professional race the 'Klasika primavera' a one day race...pretty cool, Marty managed to pick up a food bag they droped full of protein bars which taste alright the first bite but after a whole bar are a bit difficult to get down.
Pamplona is a pretty nice place, was very empty though so hard to imagine the atmosphere with the bull running (even with El Torro Marty reenactment)...although we did stuff ourselves full of the bestest Tapas for the entire trip here! the Spanish ham is amazing.
Next we stayed at Zaragoza - known for "Our Lady of the Pillar" a church where St James saw a vision of Mary, bus loads of tourists turn up here to kiss the pillar...did really want to catch some random disease from all the tourists so steered clear of there. We had a pretty cool hotel here right opposite to the church (see the building on the left thats our hotel), great view, but I really didnt enjoy the ding-donging bells every hour of the night - that was a very long night ahhhh!!!

And onto Barcelona - what a fantastic city, I cant wait to go back again for more days...the markets are just amazing I could literally spend all day in there, the Tapa's superb, parc Montjuic has the best atmosphere overlooking the city where the 1992 Olympics were held, La Rambla and the Sagrada Familia 'monstrosity' that is still not finished after 100 years. 'La Rambla' is just crazy at night, the funniest is the thousands of indians standing around with six packs of the cheapest beer you can find trying to sell you one for 1 euro....I still dont understand why, you can go into any bar and buy a real beer for cheaper.

Last stop in Spain was Girona - known (and Im not sure if this is a good thing) for Catalan mullets like you have never seen before, on men and women. Apparently, their towns animal is the donkey and to pay tribute they all grow mullets to look like the tail...there are whole families of mullets walking around! This was really just a stop over place on the way home and to meet up with a mate of Marty's but it turned out to be a really beautiful town (if you ignore the mullets with legs).

We spent the last night back in France again...just to break up the drive (yes we are getting the European mentality that 2-3 hours drive is too much in one go). We stayed in Carcasonne - known for the La Casoulette - a meat and white beans stewy type thing, which is really yummy but as Martin found out is not so good if you eat it for lunch and dinner on the same day....amazing castle city but a bit too full of touristy-type stuff and tourists.

The End

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Australia Parc - version French

if you want to laugh at what the french think of Australia check out the website for 'Le Parc Australien' which we passed by on the way back from Spain for Easter....the representation of Aboriginals is particularly entertaining.

Monday, March 16, 2009

our cycling adventure

...this is the result of our grand plan to cycle to Arcachon (100 km round trip) on the weekend! One flat tyre, one not-quite-fixed-properly spare tyre (oops), a 5km walk back to the nearest train station, an hour wait for the next train and a 15 min train trip to arrive home...with only 30kms on the clock for the day! Oh well, guess we learnt our lesson not to leave the house without atleast one spare tube each :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Skiing and snowboarding

Appart from lots of eating and drinking in Verbier we managed to fit in a week of skiing/snowboarding...Marty tried snowboarding for the first time, very funny but unfortunatly he picked it up a little fast that I did the first time so I couldnt laugh at him for too long. The snow was fantastic and even kindly topped itself up midweek :) The only problem was that it was reeeeallly cold in the mornings (-10 deg) so we couldnt spend whole days out there, but hey when youve got a week then no worries.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bonne Noel with Jo and Gareth

....two weeks in Verbier, Switzerland for Noel, ah what a hard life. Thanks Jo and Gareth for having a lovely house in the mountains. We had a lovely banquet xmas dinner with all the Chandlers and friends followed by a bright and early fall from the sky...

...our pressie from Jo and Gareth on xmas morning, "parapenting" if your French or "paragliding" otherwise...totally amazing, take off on skis pointing straight down hill was a tad daunting but once we were up there, no problems...flying into the mist in the valley was unreal. Unfortunately the camera was broken on Marty's turn so there is no evidence that he didnt chicken out at the last minute!