Friday, May 30, 2014

The zoo, St. Emilion, and Arcachon

   So I finally found a chunk of time to finally write about our actual time here in Arcachon. The first day arrived we were so exhausted we really didn't do anything. But that next day was a Sunday and a beautiful sunny day! So that afternoon we decided to go to the beach and just see what it was like. Once we got there we couldn't believe it! The sand was so soft, there were great sea shells, and since Arcachon is in a bay we didn't have to worry about huge waves that would take William out to sea.  We let William wade in the water and at one point a little wave came and knocked him  off his feet! I caught him in time so he didn't drown but he basically got soaked. His face was priceless. :) I on the other hand made it my goal to collect as many sea shells as possible. My own little free souvenir from this place. So basically that has been the only sunny day since we have been here. That Monday through Saturday it rained and poured and rained some more. BLEG. William and I were going crazy being coped up in our hotel room when we were in FRANCE and there are AWESOME THINGS TO SEEE! So thankfully our friends we came here with called us up and asked us if we wanted to go to the Aquitaine zoo. So obviously we went. We were really worried because it looked like a tiny zoo and no one was there ( probably due to the rainy weather. I guess we are just some crazy American people!) We were SO glad we went though! We were so much closer to the animals then we would have been in the states! We couldn't believe it! They also had a good verity of animals and there weren't so many that we were overwhelmed either. We saw a baby orangutan right next to the glass. Heck if the glass wasn't there we could have touched the sweet thing. Anyway. It was amazing. And of course William and Tyler liked it too. It was a great thing to do with kids.  
    That night we decided to go on a date. (It was our first one in about 3 months) We went to a beachfront restaurant and it was wonderful except for a few things. For our appetizer Tyler got basically oyster on the half shell, wells (sea snails) , shrimp, and a baby lobster. I couldn't really eat anything other then the shrimp and lobster. I have texture issues with the other two. Then Tyler talked me in to getting Fois Gras. Which is a French delicacy.  It's basically fattened goose liver whipped into a spread. Then you spread it on toast with fruit on top. It was GROSS. Definitely not my thing. The whole time I kept thinking all I am eating is fat. Ugh. The main dishes went much better. Tyler got salmon and I got duck breast. (I can't get enough of duck! Why don't we eat it in the states again?) Then of course creme brule. The best I have ever had.
   The next day we decided to take a train to St. Emilion. It was one of the best decisions we could have made on this trip. It was FANTASTIC! Basically St. Emilion is a medieval city from the 12th Century known for limestone. The city itself has catacombs and tunnels under the city where they mined the stuff. So naturally the whole place is made out of limestone. The cobblestones, buildings, and city gates. It felt like we stepped back in time. Around the city were acres and acres of vineyards with beautiful chateaus and unique wines to try (which we didn't do obviously because of religious views). The only downside is it was at the top of this hill and the train station was at the bottom of the hill. The hike was a little tiring but definitely worth it. One of the first things we did when we got there is go up into the citadel.  It had tiny stair ways with spiral staircases to get to the top. (which Tyler had a little bit of trouble with with a baby carrier) But once you got to the top it was gorgeous. You could almost see to the ocean. They originally built it to protect themselves from the Aquitaine kingdom (including Arcachon) from attacks. After that we found a cute little restaurant to eat lunch. Pork kabobs with french fries and zucchini salad. So good. After that we went on the tour of the catacombs. We learned about the religious leader that started the city who was actually originally from the north of France. He liked solitude and so he lived in a cave in St. Emilion. (before it was St. Emilion) Well he performed miracles of healing to those around him and once the word reached people St. Emilion was born. We saw the cave where he lived and he must have really hated people because it was cramped and little with a little spring and bed carved out of stone and a chair carved out of stone. Anyway, after that we went under the city where the rich and famous were originally buried in the catacombs. (no bones now sadly ) Then we went under the giant church into a separate little chapel under the main church. All carved out. There were flying buttresses with angels ahead carved out of stone. Some paintings and of course the whole place was still in working order. Heck people get married there! (?) It was a little spooky but pretty cool. After that we looked at the main church with it's stained glass windows and 12th century paintings on the walls. It was gorgeous. I wasn't as overwhelmed as Notre Dame but it was almost calmer and more secluded which added to it's beauty. Then we looked at the abbey where the nuns made the recipe for macaroons. Sadly it is all collapsed now but it was still worth seeing. We ordered some of those macaroons and they were delicious. Almond and lemon. mmmm. Next we saw the old city wall and of course the city gate as we left town. If you ever come to France I would make this City a PRIORITY! I just couldn't believe how well preserved everything was and how gorgeous the landscape was.
   Ever since this little day trip we have just been hanging around Arcachon. We went to the Dune de Pyla which was pretty cool. Basically it's the biggest sand dune in Europe. BTW there are stairs which we took on the way up but not down. Went to the beach again, poked our head in some cool shops. I got William some cool wooden trains and train puzzles and Tyler got a knife with Arcachon carved in the handle. (I on the other hand have not found anything yet. But I will for sure! ;) ) We have been eating LOTS and LOTS of pasteries, ice-cream, and crepes (don't forget baguettes!). In fact we have been eating so much good food I'm pretty sure I have gained at least ten pounds! It doesn't matter that I have been walking everywhere! The food it just SO GOOD! Well anyway I think that's everything for now. Until next time! 

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