Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Road Tripping.....

Who knows how many hours we drove while we were in Southern France, because we drove a ton and we lost count. We would start our day out driving around 10 each day and not get home until about 10PM. We spent a ton of time in the car together which was really fun. I loved having Nate all to myself and just talking and enjoying the scenery together. It reminded me of our long drives we would take together when we were dating in Hawaii. On this trip, we also got really acquainted with Adele's CD, especially the songs, "Someone Like You," and "Set Fire to the Rain." We pretty much have her whole CD memorized now! And don't forget the Beatles.....we listened to a lot of them too. 

Here is our car that we pretty much lived in for about 10 days:
We couldn't have survived without this GPS in the front of the car. We got stuck renting a manual so it was nice for Nate to not have to worry about shifting as well as navigating on his IPhone. The GPS was so handy and never led us astray! It even asked us before each drive if we wanted to avoid the toll roads or not. The tolls were so expensive in France. They really get you. So most times we would avoid the tolls which were usually the more interesting drives anyway because it took us through the windey back roads. 

Here is my cute driver. Nate really is such a good driver and I never have to worry about anything. Nate and I agreed that the best part about our rental car was the GPS that tracked the speed cameras! In France, they have speed cameras all over the road. You rarely see a policeman on the road, so getting pulled over for a speeding ticket is rare as well. Instead, they get you with the speed cameras. They take pictures of your car when you least expect it, and if you are speeding when the picture was shot, you get a ticket in the mail. Crazy huh? But our handy dandy car warned us when the cameras were coming so Nate could make sure he was going the exact speed or even a little under to be on the safe side. 

We saw some pretty crazy things while driving. Our favorite was.......

Duck farms! Foie Gras is a very popular food to eat in Southern France. It is duck liver. I'll explain more later in another post about how they make it and everything.....but besides the liver, duck meat is also very popular there. So of course, there are tons of duck farms. This was a first for me!
 Grape vineyards. Southern France is the wine making capital of the world. This is where all the most famous wines come from. So while driving we saw a ton of grape vineyards. They were everywhere! They sure do love their wine.
We saw tons of other farms there as well. There would be rolling hills after rolling hills of fruit trees. Apples, and olives were especially popular.  We also saw fields of bright yellow flowers, tons of them. I looked it up and found that it is the flower that canola oil comes from.
 This is a hotel bed and breakfast that used to be an old castle. It is right on the river and so cute!
 Can you imagine living there? This is someones house that we saw, stopped, pulled over and snapped a pic of. Pretty amazing I think.
Foix Castle. We saw it and decided to park to go take a closer look. Unfortunatly it was closed the time we were there, but the outside was still gorgeous!

A gorgeous picture of the French country side. This is what we saw a lot of!

My favorite part about our road trip adventures was when we would see a French pastry and bread shop. Without question, we would pull over instantly, find a place to park, and then make our way to the shop. Then we would each pick out our favorite and eat it in the car. We were addicted. Nate was especially addicted to chocolate eclairs. They are his new favorite thing. He ate quite a few....like a disgusting amount. So now he can distinguish between the okay ones and the amazing ones. Towards the end of the trip, we got more picky about our pastry shops. We could tell which ones were better than other just by looking through the window. And then, we would only eat at the really good ones. 
Sometimes when we were on the road, we just needed something quick to eat for a meal and we didn't have time to stop and sit down to eat. French people take a long time for a meal....no fast food there! So we went to McDonald's a couple times. You can always count on McDonalds no matter what country you are in. Both times were very memorable and hilarious....

Time #1- We decided last minute to do the drive through because we just wanted to eat in the car. It was late at night and we were starving and tired and we didn't want to go inside. Then after we pulled into the drive through we realized the difficulty....How were we going to explain to them what we want to order without hand gestures and facial expressions? We don't speak French, and drive thrus are especially difficult. So while I am laughing hysterically in my seat, Nate is attempting to order our food. It was the funniest thing ever. He was trying to speak in a French accent and order the food, but she just wasn't getting it. He tried to explain different ways, but she still was clueless. She thought we wanted chicken nuggets, but we didn't. She kept on asking how many fries we wanted....which doesn't make any sense. Then we pulled through and I said to Nate, "Why did you order 2 big hamburgers, I don't want one, you know that." Nate said, "I don't know, I just panicked!" Funny how a simple thing of ordering food through a drive through can be so difficult when you don't speak French. 

Time #2- We went in this time to avoid confusion, but confusion still awaited us! :) We noticed they had a machine where you could order by touch screen in English and then pick up your food up front. Perfect....well maybe not. The order worked fine until the paying part with our card. It kept on denying our card for some reason. So we tried again. It didn't work. We were trying to mess with it and we notice some of the workers with a big pile of food looking around like they don't know who it goes to. I go up there and sure enough, it was our food. But they were missing my McFlurry. So we try to explain to them that that is our food, but the machine isn't work to pay for it. It was a mess. They spoke no English whatsoever. Then I had to explain that it missed the McFlurry and what kind I ordered. (The gesture of licking an ice cream cone worked well here....) Then we paid for it and it came up more expensive then what the machine said the price was, so we knew something was wrong in the order, or we were getting overcharged. Try explaining this in French.....not so easy. Then Nate takes the food over to the chairs and starts eating while I wait for my ice cream. It never comes. She sees me standing there forever and she never gets it. I finally stand in line again, and then eventually show her my receipt. She then tried to ring me up another one and charge me. I had to explain that I already paid but never got it.....what a mess! We were in there for way longer than we wanted to me.....we would have had time to sit down at a place after all. :) 

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