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16 August 2015 @ 04:22 pm
This entry is missing about 50 in-jokes.  
Well hello, blog-readers! It's been a while.

I last wrote about Day 42, which seems like a long, long time ago. I was waiting awkwardly in a hotel room that wasn't my own for Welsh people to arrive.

I did need dinner before they arrived, though, as it turned out they wouldn't be in until past 10 o'clock, so I marched myself up to the only nearby food provision source – a KFC. This KFC resulted in the most confusion I have ever suffered in a fast food restaurant (except maybe the time a manager at a DQ shouted at me “A CONE IN A CUP IS A SUNDAE. IT'S THE LAW OF DAIRY QUEEN!”) - because this KFC did not serve original recipe chicken. They didn't serve chicken thighs or legs at all, in fact. Only sandwiches, chicken wings (which were not breaded, unless you wanted spicy ones) and sundaes. Is the purpose of KFC not the original recipe crispy skin which is two bites of delight followed by multiple bites of regret?

One disappointing chicken sandwich consumed, I returned to the hotel, waited until the traffic from the ferry from the UK started arriving, and headed down to greet everyone as they struggled with the automated booking system. I then discovered that when you get 7 Welsh people into a room their accents compound upon each other and my ability to understand them diminishes rapidly.

I'm going to write a brief introduction to my Welsh companions to put their appearances in context.

THE WILLIAMS FAMILY

1) Kat – one of my online friends from the Harry Potter message boards way back. You may recall her appearance during Eurotrip 2015 when we stopped over in Bath.

2) Elaine – Kat's mom. She likes frogs, is ceaselessly outgoing, and is known for giving hilariously misguided answers at Trivial Pursuit. She was in charge of telling as many people as possible “J'ai perdu mon requin gonflable” on the trip. (That means “I've lost my inflatable shark”, for the record.)

3) Paul – Kat's dad. He is pretty much the opposite in terms of trivia and constantly serves out random facts about the areas and things we encountered on the trip.

THE GANGES FAMILY

4) Gareth – The Williams' friend from Rugby Club. He's relatively quiet so I can't speak to what he may or may not like, but he's a cool guy and may have a clone in France.

5) Marina – Gareth's partner. She likes rugby a LOT. Also karaoke. And cider. And presumably Gareth.

6) Carwyn – Gareth's son. He's 16. He likes his phone. And his girlfriend. And being on his phone to message his girlfriend. And charging his phone so he can use it to message his girlfriend.

7) Megan – Gareth's daughter. She's 14. I spent a 10 minute conversation trying to get her to talk about what she liked. As I recall, she came up with dancing, and music. All kinds of music. She specifically referenced Vance Joy.

And me! The wayward Canadian.

We all found our ways into our room – and after I set up Streetpass for Kat, because she's had a 3DS for 3 years yet has been missing out on the glory of Streetpass and that is terrible – we went to bed.

43 days in, we woke up bright and early for a mediocre hotel breakfast! Then we got in the car and began the 4 hour drive to Bénodet. 4 hours is an eternally long drive to Welsh people. They described a 45 minute drive as a long one at one point during the week. As a Canadian, I am – slightly bewildered by that. I was also bewildered by the fact that they believed that 19 degrees was boiling hot, but that's probably slightly coloured by the fact that I had just come from places where it was 35 degrees.

The drive wasn't particularly eventful, other than repeated traffic jams. Kat and I listened to music on the way down, we picked up food for lunch at a grocery store (that I think they kept calling a hyper-market? I never asked for clarification) and ate it while on our way. I was also introduced to a game, which was basically a scavenger hunt for the French departements on license plates. To clarify – there's a number on the bottom right hand side of most French license plates. This identifies the region the person who owns the car is from. We were trying to spot them all. I spotted all but one – which I believe is the same for the other team, which was Elaine, Megan, and Marina.

(There's another game called “Cheese on Wheels” where basically you point out every yellow car by saying “Cheese on Wheels!” It's... pretty straightforward.)

We also saw Mont St. Michel, but only at a distance. Sorry for all of you people who messaged me who told me that I should see it. We also went through the town that Kat lived in when she lived in France. Which is a very pretty town and was way bigger than I thought.

Then we got to the campsite! The campsite is not really a campsite so much as it is a vacation resort place. But it is pretty badass. There are a bunch of little trailers-turned cottages, a ropes course, climbing wall, adult tricycles, and our cottage was a two-story four-bedroom deal. It was pretty sweet.

Then we went for proper groceries, bought a metric ton of them, and had REALLY tasty pizza from the “campsite” takeaway. Pizzas with eggs on them need to be more of a thing.

We also all started calling wasps Dennis, because Marina, Elaine, and Megan named the wasp in their car that.

Then we went to bed! Because, exhaustion.

Day 44! A pretty lazy day. Several of these days were gloriously lazy, as you might tell by the fact that I managed to actually post photos. If you're a person who is checking out my photos.

I woke up, had some croissants for breakfast, as we did every day at the “campsite”, and then everyone (with the exception of Paul and Gareth) went for a nice long swim at the pool. The indoor pool, while nice for pale individuals like me, was also crowded as heck. People were splashing, throwing things around, and generally being in the way. An old man foolishly decided to take his camera out near the pool to take pictures of his family, and I was watching that going like “Oh my God this is going to end terribly.” and it did. His camera was SOAKED. Oh lord. Poor old dude. He looked so disappointed.

We also swam outside in the pool up there and played this game called “Can't Catch the Butcher”, which is basically tag in the water, but with a faaaaaar more violent name that makes it more fun. I also went down the world's coldest, slowest waterslide. Then we got in the jacuzzi, thinking it would warm us up, but as it turns out, the jacuzzi operates on cold water. Uhhhh... okay then.

After a quick shower and change, we retired to the “campsite” bar. I can't remember the context, but Kat had earlier in the day accused me of being a bad influence, so two drinks into the evening, I bought us both a shot. This led me to both of us being quite drunk! So I lived up to her accusation. This made it particularly interesting when we started playing Trivial Pursuit after dinner. Dinner was a barbeque of assorted meat on skewers, by the way, including “Tex-Mex” meat on a skewer, a concept that just confused me.

Not like I was going to be especially useful in the state I was in, but that was the most brutal game of Trivial Pursuit I've ever played. So many questions about Rugby. And what they call football. And British people. I managed to answer some questions about geography (when they weren't like “what's the county town of Essex”) and actors, and also helped steer my teammate Marina in the right direction a couple of times, so in the end our team came a close second to Kat and Megan. Elaine and Carwyn were dead last, but in Elaine's defense, Carwyn abandoned her immediately to... for once not text his girlfriend. I think he was taking pictures of the stars or something?

Then it was to bed, because we were waking up bright and early on Day 45.

We went to a French market (after yet more croissants) and window shopped. As much as you can call shopping at stalls window shopping. No actual windows are involved.

The market kind of reminded me of a night market. Various accessories, random decorations, clothing, foods, were all available for sale. Some of them are terrible, some of them are really nice. Kat purchased a bag with converse shoes embroidered on it, which is appropriate, because Kat is both obsessed with shoes and bags. Now she has an item to celebrate both those loves.

After wandering, we returned to the gite/cottage and went swimming again! This time the main pool was... in all honesty, even more crowded. But luckily it was crowded in no small part with tiny babies who were floating around being adorable, so it provided for some excellent people watching. Which is... good, because there wasn't much room for swimming.

Pools – they're great sometimes, except when there are people in them you don't actually know.

By the time we got back to the gite, Paul and Elaine were busy cooking up a feast! Swordfish and grilled zucchini and boiled potatoes – all amazing food which I consumed happily. Swimming always makes me hungry, even if it is paddling around a small area. Marina and Gareth and the kids went off to the bar to hang out.

It is here that I should mention that Elaine is very assertive when she offers you things. This might be a Welsh thing, or a her thing, but either way, as a Canadian, I am not used to so aggressively having to refuse gifts and kind offers. So when she went inside to serve up some watermelon, I didn't say no. I mean, mostly because I wanted watermelon. But when she came back with literally a quarter of a watermelon and put it in front of me with a spoon... that was a little intimidating.

Luckily it was good watermelon. I did actually finish it. As Paul and Kat killed themselves laughing.

Then we went up to the bar ourselves, hoping to join the Ganges (and Marina, who is actually a Jones) in their revelry, but they were nowhere to be seen, so we had our own drinks in the drizzly rain. I was chilly, so I had an Irish Coffee, as Kat, who was plenty warm, helped herself to some tequila sunrises. Which came with glow sticks in them. We had some discussion about whether or not that'd be allowed in Canada. I figure it probably is? Somebody who drinks in clubs more often should tell me if they've ever seen this.

Back to the gite we went, and we curled into bed. I doubt it happened so neatly, and at some point I must have uploaded photos, but WHO CAN SAY.

Day 46! We went to Concarneau and Port Aven. They're tourist traps! But pretty ones.

Concarneau was first. It was about 40 minutes away from the “campground”, and is an old walled city filled with souvenir shops, chocolateries, bakeries, and most importantly – creperies. We wandered around for an hour or two, taking pictures and avoiding the rain as much as possible. I sampled honey cakes with pistachios and chocolate in. I expected the pistachio one to win the best cake award (maybe expecting baklava?) but the chocolate one won hands down.

I looked over the edge of the wall and saw tiny fish. Kat went into a bead shop and didn't buy anything (if you know her, you know this is a momentous occasion). We listened to a brass band and also a celtic band. I was bought a Bretagne flag, because hurrah for Celtic nations!

Then we had crepes! Two each. I had a mushroom, lardons (soft bacon bits, basically), and egg crepe, and a baked apple, butter and sugar crepe. They were all deliiiicious. Crepes at home aren't nearly as good as they are in France. We do not use the right type of flour. I don't know exactly what they use but it is better.

Then we took off for Pont Aven, which is – that is not an easy City name to say in French. It makes it pretty clear that the Celts had more influence in that area of France than the French, all on its own.

Pont Aven is just – pretty. It reminded me of a lot of the towns in Cornwall. Just beautiful scenery, nice little shops, a river running through it. Lots of bridges, as the “Pont” might imply. We all kind of split up through this town and walked our own ways. I took many pictures. Then Elaine and Kat caught up with me and Marina and Megan. Elaine was telling us that there are rapids in part of the river and recommended we walk over.

The rapids were pretty tame, as they go, but they reminded me of the parts of Lynn Valley where you can actually swim. Elaine got in and wandered through the water for a while, and Kat dipped her toes. I didn't want my sandals wet, or I would have joined her. It was pretty dang cold, though!

Then we returned to the gite, ate some cheese, bread and burgers for dinner, and that was that! Megan, Kat and I tried to get to bed early (I'm not sure any of us succeeded) because the next day was zoo day!

Day 47!

By the time everyone was awake, we were off to the Pont Scorff Zoo. Kat drove Megan and me like an hour away to the zoo, listening to the Deathly Hallows soundtracks the whole way. It was one ominous car ride.

At the Zoo, there were animals! Surprise! Notable sights include the SAND CATS which I bold because they are some of my favourite animals and I'd never had the pleasure of seeing one before. They are adorable fluffy balls of feral energy. Although they were napping when we saw them.

They also had a raccoon on display, which – much like in Australia, struck me as very funny. Because to us, those guys are vermin. It was also the tiniest raccoon I'd ever seen. I don't think it was particularly representative of raccoons.

There was also goats that were allowed to wander free amongst us, as well as a rabbit that was not meant to wander free amongst us but had flown the coop and was hanging around in the monkey cage. Which doesn't seem safe. Monkeys are killers, tiny rabbit. Watch yourself.

We also waited an hour for snacks, and because that more or less caused us to melt in the heat. It was like 26 out, but waiting in a concrete lot is no joke. We were all chugging slush puppies. Which are never as delicious as they were when it is too damn hot out.

We also saw a Sea Lion show, which was pretty impressive because the Sea Lions were super well trained. But also because there was a little redhead girl in the crowd who was SUPER PUMPED for these damn sea lions. She stood up on her seat and started clapping, like 20 minutes before the show, and chanting “LES OTA-RETS! LES OTA-RETS! LES OTA-RETS!”, trying to convince them to come out early. And then, when they showed up, she clapped like a LUNATIC and screamed “BRAVOOOOO! BRAVOOOOOOOOOOO! BRAVOOOOO!” and then her parents made her shut up, which made me so super sad because she was the highlight of the whole thing.

Then we went to the Bird show, which was especially amazing. They let the birds fly out across the crowd so you could get a really good view of them no matter where you were sitting, and they showed off all kinds of birds. Penguins, Cormorants, Pelicans, Owls of several types, Falcons – and for a finale, they let all the parrots, storks, and ibises out of their cages and let them soar over the whole zoo. Which is both really great because it was cool to see the birds really stretching their wings, and also because they just kept coming from all directions! Then they went back to their perches, because – food, it lures all creatures.

Then we headed home, and normally this is where I would say we had dinner and went to bed. We did have dinner, it was a clearing the fridge dinner that ended up involving every type of food imaginable, you'll see when I post photos. But we most certainly did not go to bed. Or at least Kat and I didn't.

Instead, we stayed up until 3am setting up Paul's birthday party. Kat had been given the option of theme, so she picked Harry Potter theme. Oh man did she dig into that. She made drink charms for wine glasses that are tiny models of the books. She tempered chocolate and made chocolate frog boxes and boxes for jellybeans to be Bertie Botts beans. She set up little posters, she decorated the bathroom like Moaning Myrtle's toilet (including basilisk), she relabeled all the drinks in the fridge to be potions. She even set up house point jars, with appropriately coloured beads! It was incredibly impressive and I feel honoured to have helped.

Having said that, by 3am I was ready to sleep like a rock.

So, on day 48, I woke up in Hogwarts, and spent my time there... uploading photos.

What can I say, I was exhausted.

That afternoon, though, we headed down to Quimper, which is the largest nearby city. It's another old, beautiful city, in a way that reminded me a lot of Bruges. Except I don't think it's quite that old.

We were basically just wandering around and allowing Kat and Elaine to do their shopping. We wandered around Eurodif, which is a department store. We checked out chocolate shops, and designer clothes stores, and even wandered into a “games and manga shop” which had 15 shelves filled with used video games and a single manga shelf that looked like the books on it were used too. We also had some coffee and drinks near the food market. That food market smelled kind of terrible, despite the food looking great, which was confusing.

We wanted to take a ride on a tiny train, but it turns out tiny trains are too popular in the summer and we missed our chance for a ride. Just as well. Tiny trains are for suckers.

After our brief journey to Quimper, we went back to the gite, got ready to go out for Paul's birthday dinner at the “campground” restaurant, and all headed down together.

It was actually very good food, but the meal was... complicated. We sat down and got our drinks and starters easily enough, but then all of the sudden, when we were in the middle of eating our starters, two of the mains showed up.

Those of us who had ordered starters just kind of stared and were like “wait, wh- we've been eating this for like two minutes, France, hold on.” Meanwhile, Gareth, who didn't have a starter, accepted one of the mains and happily started eating.

When the waitress asked which of us was having the other main (same as Gareth's), both Kat and I put up our hands, and seeing barely-eaten first courses in front of us, the waitress hurriedly ran away for the kitchen.

As it turns out, Gareth ate somebody else's food, and as a result, that table was delayed.

As was, seemingly, the entire process of dinner.

I watched the waitresses look increasingly more stressed out. Food started coming out inconsistently to certain tables, and of course the table that got their meals stolen by our table were upset.

Gareth finished his meal about 20 minutes after our starters, and he still got back from a walk around the “campground” before we'd even gotten our mains.

Eventually it got sorted out, finally, and we all enjoyed the food. That service was just pretty horrendous, and the language barrier between us and the servers didn't help.

With food enjoyed in a somewhat confusing manner – we went back to the gite, and it was sleep times.

Day 49 – we're in the home stretch now.

On Day 49 I wasn't feeling great. I'd had a lingering nausea problem since we'd gone to Pont Aven that would come and go, and it was particularly bad this day. So I didn't do much but goof around on the internet. Other people went out swimming, or read, or did other things. It was a nice lazy day.

So as a result, the only thing really worth mentioning (other than the fact that Welsh people apparently start packing even earlier than me – Canadians would be in shock) was that we went to an award-winning pizza place!

It's called Chez Alain, and is literally in the sketchiest location, down a side alley next to a worn down yellow sign. The decor isn't particularly exciting, and honestly, I'd have never guessed that this place would be any great shakes from all of that. But its owner, Alain Olivier, was the first person to place in the top 5 of the world pizza-making championship, held in Italy, who was not actually Italian.

We kind of assume he won because he can make paper-thin crust without it breaking or going hard. It was delicious pizza which was ALL about the ingredients. I don't remember what I had, except that it involved egg, again, and he was the first person who managed to successfully soft-broil the egg on the pizza rather than making the egg yolk cook through. It also had fresh cream on it, because the egg mixed into the cream perfectly. Actually if I think about this pizza too much I could probably work it out, what he used, but this is also making me far too hungry considering what hour of the night it is.

We enjoyed a fantastic meal that night – the night that would be our last night in Benodet.

The morning of Day 50, we packed up and headed for Roscoff.

But that's a story for another day. It's late. Everyone here must go to bed.

I'll tell you about the road home next time.
 
 
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