France Part 1

A girl and her grasshoppers

Thank you to everyone who responded with comments and direct messages to me. I was overwhelmed with the love, understanding and compassion that you all gave me.

I’m feeling more myself bit by bit. Practicing self-love and self-acceptance is at the top of my radar. Also, Luc and I have had some good conversations about this trip and how he can support me. We’re finding our way.

We’re in La Doire, France right now as I write this. We’re in Luc’s aunt’s house with 3 bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, deck, etc… all by ourselves. This is more helpful being here. It’s about 5 degrees cooler and we actually have time alone. Vivi has had a chance to go into her own room and shut her door and watch some iPad. I’ve got to lay in bed and read my book, alone. Luc got to explore some of the places where a lot of his memories growing up, took place.

The space, the reduced heat and feeling understood and heard has really helped my head and my heart. I wouldn’t say that I was feeling home sick… I was feeling very alone.

So I’m not going to give you a play by play of every day… we’ve been here now for 2 weeks. I’ll review the highlight reel.

We arrived in France and waited for about 45 mins until our luggage came out the chute. I suspect the baggage handlers had gone for lunch, wine, maybe a siesta. Or simply laughing on the other side of the wall. We picked up our rental car in a room that was probably about 40 degrees inside. The people who worked in this room were sweating profusely. I looked at them like, “how are you working in these conditions?” After the guy tried to tell us we could only go 50KM’s per day and Luc pulled out the printed off contract that we were mailed that said “unlimited” he backed down and agreed.

We met up with Luc’s sister and boyfriend to get the keys for the studio apartment. This is Luc’s parents studio in Antibes, France. It’s one big room with kitchen, beds, laundry machine, TV. Then the bathroom is in another room. And they have a ground level balcony.

We became familiar with the place and the pool in the apartment. It was hot so we went there in the afternoon. The pool became the place for us to go every day to cool off and practice dives, hand stands, snorkelling, games, read our books and practice Spanish.

That night it was 31 degrees inside. Because we’re ground level it was felt that we should put the voler’s down for security. Unbearable. We did this the next night again but it was the absolute worst. So, after that we risked it and left the door open to let in the fresh air. The apartment building has 2 gates that people would have to get through, so we felt that was sufficient protection. It was at this point I started wondering if maybe we should move somewhere else cooler.

We headed on Sunday to a 4.5 hour lunch with Luc’s cousins. They built a beautiful house with a pool (everyone seems to have access to a pool here). We ate, drank, swam, and because I hadn’t been sleeping well, I curled up on the couch after about hour 3 for a siesta. It was a wonderful reunion. So many little cousins now for Violette to play with. It was nice to see them bonding and creating connections.

The next morning, we were advised from Luc’s mom, to get to the beach early. So off we went at 8am to get to the beach and get a parking spot and a piece of the playa. We snorkelled and read until about 1pm when the sun was beating down on us so we took off home (stopping first in Antibes to get some stamps for some postcards).

The next day was our anniversary! 9 years ago that day, we got married in Switzerland. Luc’s idea was to go to Gourdon, a tiny little walking only town, up in the mountains for a bit and look around there (it’s very artisanal) and then head to a restaurant for dinner. It was another hot day with some crazy twisty roads to get to and from Gourdon. All in all it was a nice way to spend our anniversary.

The next day, I wanted to visit the market in Antibes. I remember going there after one of the cousin’s wedding so wanted to remember it again. We parked a ways from the town where there was tons of parking. Then we walked along the waterfront where all the really big and fancy yachts are parked. I have to say, I definitely got that feeling of “I want ‘all the things’ and my life would feel complete”. It’s amazing what just being around wealth will do to your “want” desire.

The market was crazy busy and it was so hot. We bought a lot of wonderful fruit, veg, olives, and tapanade. We then went to find something to eat. We stopped in at this restaurant that had mussels and fries. Garcon, deux s’il vous plait! Dripping sweat while eating is one of the most unpleasant experiences I’m had I think. I soaked 4 napkins.

We left there totally full and went to the “Nomad” sculpture as it wasn’t too far away. Pretty cool looking. Luc climbed it even though it clearly said “no climbing”. Rule breaker!

Then Luc tried numerous times to convince us to go for the other little walk around a castle. No way. Vivi and I were dying of the heat. We crawled back to the car and home to cool off in the pool (the pool is at least 28 degrees so ‘cool off’ is an exaggeration. Later that night, Vivi threw up two times. We think it was maybe too much sun. We also aren’t sure if it was the mussels (she hasn’t had problems before).

The next night we went to Luc’s cousin’s place for a wonderful dinner of Pizza! Jerome built a pizza oven at his house, so we had several different kinds of home made pizza direct from a wood fire pizza oven. Again all the cousins, the pool, wonderful wine… it was so much fun and good to connect.

The next day, we drove the scenic route (sea side) to Cannes.  We had lunch in a tiny little restaurant with really great tasting water (It’s the little things I swear…) There we went on tiny train that took us through Cannes and told us all about the history of Cannes and the different buildings and areas of town. We drove past some of the most expensive hotels in the world… there must have been something going on because it was car after car: Lambos, Ferraris, Porches, Bugatis, Mercedes (suped up PUSH), etc… Luc wanted to check out his grandpa’s old house, so we drove past there and he hopped the fence so he could take a trip down memory lane.

The next day was one for the records… we got up as early as we could (Vivi didn’t want to get out of bed and no convincing her that we needed to get going before it got too hot – helped). We got out the door to walk around Cape D’antibes. It was stunning and beautiful but it was so incredibly hot. Hardly any shade, in and out of rocks and climbing. Not too much of a breeze but when there was the breeze was hot. First Vivi started complaining about the heat and then it was me. I was a mess – every single piece of skin was wet with sweat. My face was a HOT MESS. I didn’t bring a hat because I seriously thought it was early enough (remember it was about 9am). It was like my body was on overdrive. I looked around at the other people almost casually walking, some RUNNING (I shit you not) and I was like “what the fuck is wrong with me?”. Luc actually wondered the same. We got to this place in the walk where we could continue (in the shade) or take a short cut and motor back to the car. Short cut please. I later read these two articles:

and now I’m so sure it’s completely linked with my red hair. Yes I am a unicorn. Thank you very much.

After getting to the car which was parked at the beach no less we joined the masses of people on the beach to get a cool down. This beach… you were LITERALLY right beside the next people. There was almost no sand to walk between the towels to get to the sea. People were scouting and fighting over spots…. You know when you ask someone if they are leaving so you can take their parking spot? Yeah that happened ON THE BEACH.

I feel like the next day was a down day. I think it’s when I wrote my last blog post. There was a massive storm which helped to relieve the heat much to my joy.

Then we went to Olivier’s house for another wonderful 4 hour meal at lunch. In the pool, speaking some English, it was really really nice. We went directly from their house to here. I coached in the most wonderful spot and then to dinner at a pizzeria just a little down the hill from where we’re staying. Live music, an awesome vibe, cheap, good food. It was really neat.

Yesterday… so Luc wanted to go for a 1-2 hour hike. I said “1-2 hours… have you done this before?” Response: “Oh yeah, so many times when I was little”. Me: “but 1-2 hours… that’s pretty vague. Why such a vaste difference?” Response: “It was a long time ago I can’t remember exactly”. So we head up the “hill”. About 30mins into a straight uphill “little walk” (that’s what he called it) I started to ask more questions. “Please show me the map and what we’re doing…”

Out comes the map “ok, up to the ruins here… then around the mountain, down to this town, and back up home.”

Me: “Ummmmm 1-2 hours? We’re not even at the ruins yet! And you want to go around THAT mountain?” Pointing at a mountain that seems like would take about a day to walk around the circumference. I’ve packed 1 litre of water and 2 cliff bars for the “little walk” for the 3 of us. I demand he calls his aunt for clarification.

His aunt says it’s about 1 hour to the ruins (which was “just around the corner”). Ok, we regroup and we decide once we get to the ruins we’ll choose what comes next. It’s a beautiful walk after the uphill turns to flatish. So many butterflies, crickets, lizards, beautiful views, the clouds shield us from the beating sun, there’s a breeze. AN ACTUAL BREEZE that’s cool! I love this place.

We get to the ruins. They are pretty cool. Way up at the top of this mountain, I try to think about what life must have been like for them. Creating these buildings that are made from stone, overlooking the beautiful valley. Why so high? It couldn’t have been easy to build there.

We drink water, eat the cliff bars. It’s been 2 hours. We choose to go back the same way we came. Luc said the path around the mountain is probably overgrown. Yeah let’s go with that.

We come home and head out for lunch and I’m exhausted so Luc takes off to find some canyon and river and I take a nap and Vivi has a rest. How he can keep going, I’ll never understand.

Side note: Man on man they eat a lot of bread here. I feel like I’m turning into the a French loaf. So I’ve decided no bread for breakfast and no bread from the bread baskets that they bring. I’m slower, I’m more tired, I feel like I’m constantly bloated. I need a bread break.

We have one more day here. And then we head back to the studio. 8 days until I leave for the Camino….

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A weekend away in Tofino and Ucluelet, BC

Wild Pacific Trail: Lighthouse route

Luc and I thought we would do one last trip to the rugged West Coast before we leave, just the two of us.

Tofino has always held such a beautiful place in my soul. So many memories growing up. Chesterman’s beach has been where my spirit retreats to when I think of a warm peaceful place in my heart.

In my influential years, I slept in my car for an entire weekend in the long beach parking lot while me and my girlfriend searched all weekend long for our two friends (they had taken off to another island without phone service). I’ve camped in my Volkswagen van on the side of many roads in and around Tofino. I’ve done tequila shots off a surf board around a camp fire at Chesterman’s beach, fallen asleep in front of the fire with my friends and had one of my friends sleeping bags catch on fire (he was ok but what a way to wake up!). So many many memories. And I feel like as I’ve grown up, so has Tofino. All of the things I just mentioned, would never happen now. Tofino is very regulated now as far as fires, camping and public drinking goes.

Anyway, back to last weekend, Luc and I took off for a weekend of reconnection to each other and the West Coast of Vancouver Island. In typical Luc fashion, he forgot a pretty integral piece of clothing when visiting the wet coast – a rain jacket. This provided no end of laughter for me throughout the weekend. What was priceless was watching him hike for 11KM’s with a massive golf umbrella.

FOOD/Restaurant

Tofino and Ucluelet have some wonderful wonderful places to eat! Extra bonus: lots and lots of seafood! Yum!

Hanks BBQ
This photo stared at me the entire time I was eating.

Hank’s BBQ, Ucluelet

Our first meal was out of this world delicious! The ambiance in the restaurant was pretty eclectic – Luc and I had no trouble singing along to most of the songs. Great beer choices too! I’d say this was our most expensive dinner but probably because we ordered two drinks each, two appies and one main meal to share.

Feast Tofino 8th Annual Dock Festival

We were lucky enough to be there when Feast Tofino was happening. While the weather was less than desirable for an outdoor food experience, it was so freaking delicious. We paid $25 each for 10 tickets. Those tickets would get you one little sample of food from different restaurants and hotels from around Tofino. All seafood and fish based delicacies. Absolute heaven. Live music while you stuffed your face.

It was hosted by Chef Lynn Crawford and featured culinary teams from the Wickaninnish InnLong Beach Lodge ResortShelter RestaurantJamie’s Rainforest InnSOBORuby Watchco, and the Tofino Resort + Marina.

Feast Tofino! Feast Tofino!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Loaf Bake Shop, Tofino

This rustic bakery has been a part of my life for over 25 years and not surprisingly it hasn’t changed much. They still take cash only at the till. Super fresh baked goods with piping hot coffee. When you come to this bakery, you want to just grab your book, and chill out. Slow down. You’re on Tofino time. Definitely worth a visit to grab a java and some baked goods for your breakfast tomorrow or a snack today.

Floathouse view
View from outdoor eating area at the floathouse.

Floathouse Patio and Grill, Ucluelet

Our last dinner didn’t disappoint. This restaurant floats which makes it pretty unique. While eating outside would definitely have been better for ambiance it was too damn cold! So we sat inside and enjoyed great food and our server Emma from Australia was wonderful.

Tacofino, Tofino

Our last stop before taking off was at the most tasty food truck this side of the 49th parallel. The original truck that started it all off for Tacofino definitely was worth the wait. And the line up was long! No surprise though cuz the food is out of this world. Outdoor seating is all there is with two big long tables to share your meal and space with like minded foodies! Be sure to stop here at least once while in the Pacific Rim.

Tacofino 2018 Tacofino 2018

Drink

Tofino Brewery
2 Flights!

Tofino Brewing Co, Tofino

We stopped in here to take a couple of delicious flights and to dry off and get out of the rain. The place was buzzing and we grabbed the last two seats. Before long it was really busy in there! Super fun and a warm feeling where people are there to experience their liquid gold. I highly recommend to stop in here if you are interested in beer tasting and micro breweries. One of the tasters even had kelp in it! We’re still really confused why the Ucluelet restaurants don’t carry this beer but they carry Victoria and Whistler beer… we think there might be a bit of a feud happening but we’re just not sure…

Pacific Rim Distilling, Ucluelet

This place was so quaint. The guy who owned it was 3rd or 4th generation distiller. He was just about to close up for the day but let us sample his distilled vodka. I believe he said that he had been open for a week but has been selling out constantly. I would stop by here and say hi to Luke on the way through Ukee!

Hiking

Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet

We hiked 11KM’s along this beautiful well kept trail. Where we got on the trail, it was very close to many different hotels and resorts which we commented on that it definitely didn’t feel like we were out and alone like you do when you’re hiking in East Sooke Park. At some point the resorts fall away and then you’re more alone which is nice.

Every turn has a bench or look out that is breath taking. At one of the parking lots, you can borrow a walking stick that has been left there for others to use. Be prepared to take lots of photos and it will take you longer than you expect to walk it. We just kinda got carried away with the beauty of it all.

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Wild Pacific Trail, Lighthouse Loop, Ucluelet

A smaller loop (2.6KM’s I believe) which winds in a circle to the lighthouse. It’s really very beautiful with a lot of placards along the way that you can read about the history of the shipwrecks, birds, trees and your surroundings. There is a pole along the trail that is dedicated to love locks that people have placed many locks on it.

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Chesterman’s Beach, Tofino

As I’ve said before this is my all time favourite beach. When you look inside your heart to find the most beautiful peaceful place in the world you’ve been, Chesterman’s is that for me. White sand, surfers, jutting rocks, long walks, kids playing in the ocean, and Frank Island. There’s something so mystical about this beach. When you’re there, be sure to close your eyes, and stop and listen to all that is happening around you: the people, kids, churn of the ocean, wind, smell the surf, birds, and sun or rain on your face.

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Airbnb

Get $45 CAD off your first adventure for FREEWe stayed at a wonderful Airbnb in Ucluelet called the “Surf N Stay” tucked in the back of a property on a quiet street. It was walking distance to Ucluelet and to the Wild Pacific Trail. While you could hear people walking above your head quite easily, it was really the perfect spot for us to use as a home base for the weekend.

Airbnb is a wonderful way to travel and see more of the culture of the place you are visiting. You feel like you’re one of the locals when you’re staying in locals homes. If you haven’t used Airbnb before, I highly recommend it. And please use our travel link. Using our link will get you $45 CAD in free travel credit and we receive $25 CAD. Win win!

Reflection

Luc was pretty heart broken to not have sunshine while we were there but if you think about it, Tofino and Ukee are best known for their wet and rainy weather so we got the full authentic experience. We went there to connect back to nature, the West Coast beauty, and for me – my roots. The Pacific Rim helps me to connect with my life force and love.

I had a wonderful time with Luc full of laughter (maybe at his expense), love and connection. We even saw a bear on the way back. I believe that when you set your intention for what you want to get out of your journey, all that there is left to do is open your mind to what you want to experience, and hand it over to the universe to create that for you, you let go of how it has to go and just open up your heart and soul to how it will unfold.

I will miss you my beautiful rugged west coast. You hold my heart, love, space, and life force. Until we meet again.

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