Tuesday, June 3, 2014

France and Germany… a send off from the Army-- Part 6

I have a good friend named Audra who lives in Nimes, France.  I first met her at the high school in the small town where we grew up.  She is a year younger than I am, but we had classes together.  I used to chat with her during our journalism class, which turned out to be one of my favorite high school classes.  For some reason, I didn't take the second year of journalism.  I probably should have.  My friend also graduated from Longwood University, which in our day was called Longwood College.  We didn't really hang out when we were in college, so I hadn't seen her in many years.  Facebook got us reconnected.

Since we were in France, Audra invited Bill and me to come down to Nimes and help her and her family celebrate her son's 11th birthday.  I had never been to Nimes before.  It turned out to be a wonderful city, famed for its bullfights and Spanish feel.  We got off the train and walked right into a great farmer's market that included displays, exhibitions, animals, and agricultural goods.  One native said to us in English that this market thing they had going on was not something they had every day.

The air smelled of livestock and the fecal by-product that comes from livestock.  There were goats, pigs, horses, rabbits, birds of every kind, and sheep.  Kids were taking donkey rides and adults were tasting wines, cheeses, and beers.  It was a fun scene.

I booked us at the Majestic Hotel, a two star establishment near the train station.  This hotel is very quirky and there's no elevator.  We had kind of a funny incident with the lady who checked us in, who spoke no English.  I asked for the WiFi password.  She said what sounded like "D O's."  I tried several combinations.  It never occurred to me that what the lady had actually said was that we had to type ten zeros.  "Dix" is French for ten!

We got in touch with Audra, who came with two of her three kids to pick us up at our hotel.  We drove to a very cool village about an hour outside of Nimes where there was a great bar.  Audra, her boyfriend, Cyril, and Cyril's parents had arranged for "charcuterie", which is basically a huge pile of meat and bread.  The guy who ran the bar had a great selection of beers and played great music.  Audra and I wasted no time getting caught up while the birthday boy and his friends hung out.  Audra's younger son and daughter were also in attendance, along with Cyril's friend-- whose name I can't remember now!  It was a great time and Bill and I were so grateful to be included, especially since we never would have found that great bar on our own!










Big pile of meat!  I actually tasted a couple of sausages that required some bravery… I was rewarded for the effort!


Besides the cool bar, this town was very fortified...

The next day, Audra invited us to spend Mother's Day with her family.  That, too, was a great treat, since Cyril's family lives just outside of Nimes on a beautiful tree lined plot of land.  Audra and Cyril are building their own house next to Cyril's parents' house and, I have to say, Bill and I were very envious of what they're about to have!

I think this may have been my favorite part of our trip.  Not only was it wonderful to see Audra and meet her kids, boyfriend, and his family, but we really got an authentic taste of France.  Had we not caught up with my old friend, we would have done the usual tourist things or just wandered around town (which is really more like what we tend to do on our trips).  Thanks to Audra and Cyril and Cyril's parents, we got to see how the locals live… and from what I can see, they live quite well!

We might have wanted to stay an extra day in Nimes, but my eye was on the calendar and we knew we needed to start thinking about getting back to Germany within a few days so we could get a flight back to the USA.


My new scarf!

After Audra dropped us off during the afternoon, we wandered more around Nimes and I bought a scarf at the farmer's market that was handmade by a local lady.  We saw a pair of Mormon missionaries who seemed to be having trouble finding things to do.


These three pieces of meat mysteriously fell before us as we walked around Nimes...

Then, for dinner, we stopped at a very charming little bistro that seemed to be a one woman show.  We were the lady's only guests at about 7:00pm and she served us a fine meal.  I had dorada, which is one of my favorite fish dishes.  Bill had steak.  Then, when it came time to pay, he tried to use his credit card and it didn't work.  So I had to sit in the restaurant and wait for Bill to get cash to pay the lady for our meal.  She was very gracious about it… I'm sure she's run into this issue with American patrons more than once!


Awesome French dinner at this restaurant in Nimes…










Our next stop was Nice… but getting to Nice wasn't all that nice!  Stay tuned!












Bill and the bull fighter! 











Scenes around Nimes...







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