Archive for September, 2006

Wireless and a Beach!

I managed to find wireless on a beach today.  How great is that!  Currently I am in the south of France.  The beach I am on is located in Lavendeau.  Our apartment where we are staying is also right on the beach located in La Londe.  The water here is different.  Its salt water and a word to the wise is not to drink it.  I will also mention not to swim to far out either.  Being salt water you can lie on your back and have no problems floating.  People have been known to fall asleep on it an be safe.  Not me though, I floated out some distance and a jelly fish stung me on the leg!  

I reported this to my Granddad later and his reply was “well don’t worry now, if it was a serious bite you wouldn’t have been conscious to tell me about it.”  It still hurt like hell all the same; I suppose I will repay my fishy friend back this evening when I snack upon his relatives for dinner.  

The south of France is really different from back home.  It’s very laid back here.  So much so that everything closes down for like 2 hours at lunch so everyone can sit down and eat.  I was in shock!                  

I have noticed something about the people as well – their fit.  The majority of the people are slim and I have contemplated why this is: they focus so much attention on food.  McDonalds is almost an unknown and if it’s not fresh – it won’t do.  

Fish is a huge source of food consumption.  (It makes sense; they live on the Mediterranean Sea).  Not only do they eat fish, they eat fresh fish, fresh everything!  No one eats garbage here.  No Twinkies, no fast food, no crap.  Physical fitness being another thing I have noticed.  People walk here – everywhere.  And when they walk, it’s up hill.  Everyone lives on a mountain.  On the main strip is this game they play (which I don’t know the name) but the older generation play it.  It’s great to see hundreds of retired people playing an active game, all day, everyday.

 

I have been pondering many things in regards to France, Italy and Canada.  Mostly their differences, pros and cons.  I have them written down and I think I will blog about that in the near future.

Granddad and I are here in La Londe for 8 days.  During our time here we will encounter beaches and food.  There isn’t much else to do here other than that so I am learning (forcefully) to slow down which I might add is harder than it sounds.  Granddad has been coming here for many years and has many friends to visit.  We spend most of out evening socializing with his old chums.  

We leave here on Tuesday morning and will jump on the autobahn again.  I anticipate 2 days of driving until we arrive at Paris.  Once in Paris we will spend two days being tourists (I am determined to join up with a tour group).  We fly out of Paris Friday afternoon and arrive in Toronto that evening (we gain 6 hours due to the time difference).  If you have forgotten Nathan, please pick us up from the airport at 6:30 PM Friday night.  

Cheers Ron and Granddad     

Italy = Great Food.

We left Switzerland and traveled to the Alps.  “The Alps” is just a nice way of saying “the border of Italy and Switzerland, 10,000 ft up a mountain at Grand St. Bernhard.”  Imagine driving around narrow streets fit for one car going up at a steep rate, on a cliff, no barriers turning at 180 degrees.  That will put you into small perspective of the Alps.  Take into account that I hate and am terrified of heights, you can see just how much I loved being up there. 

 

 

When we finally came off the mountain we were in Italy.  A quick trip down a high way through Milan (2 hours bumper to bumper traffic) and we arrived in Lake Garda.  Lake Garda is BEAUTIFUL!  There is no way to explain it other than to go there.  My Granddad has been coming here for 40 years now so he knew where to go, where to eat and where to stay.  He didn’t expect however that the little place he stayed normally had been transformed into a 4 star hotel.  We lucked out, BIG TIME.  It was a nice setup. 

The restaurant next door was a family owned business.  Great food and service.  After Granddad and I lounged around the pool and beach for two days, we traveled to Lido di Geselo.    

 

Lido di Geselo is a tourist spot in Italy.  Beaches as far as the eye can see.  And to think it’s a nude beach!  Granddad relaxed on the beach and I played basketball down the road. 

In the evening, we walked down the main strip and came to a restaurant (that Granddad knew quite well).  The service was fantastic and the food….. Well lets say I will never say again “that was the best food ever” because I ate the finest food.  Hands down this was the restaurant of all restaurants.  Crap, I can’t remember the name.  Just to let you know, from all the places I have been, the Italians serve it the best and it tastes the best.

 

Just a few miles from the beach, we traveled to Venice.  What can you say about Venice that already hasn’t been spoken?  It’s beautiful and it’s busy.  I took some pictures but they really don’t do it justice.  I was pretty excited though because I managed to pick up all of my presents in one spot. 

 

 

We left Lido Di Geselo today and drove 7 hours through 132 tunnels under the Alps back to France.  Tonight we rest in Nice.  We are stationed right outside the very famous “Acropolis.”  It is located downtown next to the “old country” where Granddad and I found a nice pub in the wall and played dice all night with the local bar tender and friends.

Tomorrow after I take a million pictures, we will travel to the south of France were we will spend the rest of our time until we travel back to Paris for a visit.  See you in 2 weeks!

 

Cheers

Ron / Granddad.

First 3 days in France.

You can see all of my pictures by clicking here. 

 

The flight over was a bit of a pain.  Granddad wasn’t expecting that we would be transferring planes in Montreal.  When he learned this he became skeptical as he has had his luggage lost on him 2 times before (and by how much my granddad travels – that’s about a .02 % loss ratio). 

 

We landed in Paris (luggage and all) and onto the car rental.  To get out of the airport with customs took about 2 minutes; to get our car – 2 hours.  The woman helping us was at a loss because her computer had gone down.  We needed to leave terminal 3 and over to the main terminal to get back on the system.  The system was still messed up as she couldn’t find our reservation number.  By this time I was doubting myself that I had ever pre-ordered the thing.  She started us a new order and we got to pick a new car.  Since we were in Europe and had plenty of European cars to choose from I decided to cash in the idea of a Volkswagen and picked up a Peugeot hatchback.  Its pimp.

We left the airport and we were on the road.  Now for those of you that don’t know Paris – its hell on wheels.  Before we knew it we were downtown and stuck between cars shooting in all directions.  Since this was about my 4th time driving manual I thought it would be a lovely time to test my newly acquired skills.  After only stalling the thing every other stop (Granddad recons about 100 times) I must say I thought I was getting the hang of things.

 

Eventually we left that hole (I mean Paris) and we were on our way.  Since the French need to get places fast you can travel down the auto routes at a nice pace of 160 Km/h which isn’t different from my driving in Canada; except that it’s legal in France.  Unfortunately if you decide to take this route over the scenic one you have to pay a pretty penny.

 

Chaumonte was our first stop.  Arriving Sunday night in the evening we came to realize that everything was closed.  It appears these French people have something figured out in regards to relaxation over labor.  During the week, everything is closed at 5 and everything closes down for lunch.  On the weekends, only the greedy are open. 

After a night in Chaumonte (Granddad wanted me to mention that the hotel was fabulous and the food was excellent and cheap) we were on to the Medieval town of Langres.  Napoleons soldiers built the place.  It’s very old and full of history. 

After a brief stop in Langres, we came to our resting place of Lousanne on the Swiss border.  Granddad has been coming here for years and knew the staff.  As he predicted, the dinner was FABULOUS.  Exhausted from travel and a couple wines later we were in bed by 9PM. 

 

The next morning we ventured right through Switzerland.  Just before we entered Switzerland we visited a spot where my Granddad holds close to his heart.  Granddad has been making this trip for 40 years.  In that time, he came to stop off at a picnic site on the side of the road.  He had carved his and his wife’s name with dates on the side of the tree.  Unfortionalty I didn’t have a knife to carve my name in along with theirs, not to worry, my next time through I will be sure to continue on the tradition.

Switzerland is amazing.  It was immaculate.  The Swiss know how to make chocolate, chemicals, electricity and money.  I knew if anywhere on my trip I was going to get any internet; this was the place.  Oh yes, I forgot to mention.  Apparently in Europe they don’t value the internet near as much as we Canadians do.  Ok, maybe they don’t value it as much as I do.  I needed my nerd fix and I found it at a local pub.  11AM, a pint of ale, a baguette and internet!  It felt good to catch up on all of my mail.  After we spent too much time in the pub, I was finally dragged away to enjoy the scenery of Montreux.  Wow, it was beautiful, almost as beautiful as me being able to connect to the internet.

Montraux is a historic and rich person blend.  The celebs come to relax, the tourists come to take pictures and the locals smile and ring in the sales.  Granddad got thirsty and picked up a nice clean bottle of water.  There must have been something special in that water because it cost $10.  Further down the road we came to a castle right on lake Geneva called Chatrau Chinon.  Apparently this famous poet of the 19th century (Lord Byron) purchased a house down the road from the castle and conversed with a political prisoner located in the castle.  I saw where the prisoner was tied to the ground for 19 yrs before his death.     

 

We ventured out of the city and now sit on the Italian border.  Another hotel that my Granddad is quite familiar with.  We sit in another room, sipping wine, reading and typing.  Will go for dinner, retire early and continue over the entire alps tomorrow and rest on lake Garda in Italy. 

 

Cheers

Ron and Granddad.      

Found me some wireless.

It’s Tuesday and we have just arrived in Montreaus (a couple days late but very enjoyable stops on the way).  We stopped in Pontarlia and managed to see the chateau on the hill.  I have just had a crepe (pancake) on the lakeside in Switzerland and we fed the ducks.  We are moving on to the alps today and spending the night on top.  We will make the travel over it tomorrow.

We will then arrive in Lake Garda tomorrow (Wednesday).  I will probably be able to write more from Gesolo.  Internet is hard to come by right now and it was truly a pain to find a store (open) that I could purchase a converter for my laptop at.    

Unfortionatly my pictures might not make it online for a while as high speed is kind of an unheard where I am.  When I make it somewhere where high speed is available I will be sure to upload my pictures.

Cheers

Ron / Geoff (Granddad) 

 

Weather Forecast – CRAP

This Saturday I am traveling to Paris France. From there I will be traveling to Switzerland, Lake Garda, Venice, Monty Carlo and La Londe. The weather forcast for the first 7 days:

Monday – Showers
Tuesday – AM Showers
Wednesday – Scattered Showers
Thursday – Showers
Friday – Showers
Saturday – Showers
Sunday – Scattered Showers
Monday – Showers

Great!

A night with the Stars….

Last weekend, I had to drive to Toronto to see my sister Natalie.  I was hooking up some computer things for her and her room mates.  While I am in Milton (about 30 minutes from my destination) the phone rings – its Natalie “Hi Ron, were going downtown tonight and your driving, were going to see Brad Pitt.” 

 

Brad Pitt eh?  He’s not that famous – ha! 

 

So I get to Natalie’s, drop my stuff off, eat and we are headed for downtown.  Apparently he was in town for the premiere of his new movie.  Not only that though but there were load of celebrities out and about for the cities week long film festival.

Brad Pitt

 

As soon as we park we are right near big crowds

 

Women with loaded cameras, lots of estrogen – very hostile.

 

Natalie wanted up front with the rest of her friends so we made a push for it.  Before I know it I am lifting all the girls up on my shoulders so they can get a better view.  So my back is shot and Brad finally arrives.  It’s at this moment that I realize a dilemma.  I am in between 1000 women and Brad Pitt.  I can think of some bull fights that were in a less hostile situation.          

 

Brad does his meet and great thing, he girls go crazy and we make a quick and safe exit.  After leaving I was informed that Bill Clinton was at a near by hotel celebrating his birthday.  I love Bill Clinton and defiantly wanted to get my picture taken with him.  I waited about 40 minutes but no luck.  Tim McGraw came out of the hotel and talked to us for a bit.  We got a couple pictures of him.   

He looked like he needed a drink.

All moved in!

It took the long weekend but I am all moved in.  I officially live at 750 Indian Rd. in Sarnia.  I live with Jordan Parker, Nathan Colquhoun and Darryl Silvestri. 

We would love to have you over for dinner sometime so just ask (or will probably invite you next time we see you). 

 

(Pictures to follow – when it’s a little cleaner)