That's right - I am sure you have guessed by now, indeed we are home again - back in sunny California. It is apparent that we fell "off track" regarding our blogability over the last two weeks of our adventure. Not only did we not find many wifi zones in the areas of France we were in, I'd like to think we were busy soaking up those last few weeks of fun, fun, fun.
Maybe we'll back catalogue those weeks at a later date. We enjoyed fun & adventures in the south of France - working in Yannick & Ingrid's Creperie de Lys, breaking down in front of opulent champagne chateaux in Champagne, and living it up in Paris before our return home.
For Andy, it was quite a culture shock, back in the USA - such wide streets, big cars & everyone speaks English!
Whereas I am still wrapping my head around the fact that we actually went on this huge, awesome, fun adventure - that the departure day actually came, we actually went on the trip & now, now its over?! WOw - what fun! And we recognize how extremely lucky we are that we were able to organize and go on this trip - we wouldnt have traded for anything!
Counting our lucky pennies, we both have returned to work, our house is still standing & we have sunny days to enjoy in Manhattan Beach!
We're also getting to know the 3 baby boys, born into the family while we were gone -
Leo Christopher Masters
Finbar Spartacus Ace Fleischer
All too cute!
It's not exactly wine with our picnic baguettes, followed by siestas, but it is great to see our family & friends and enjoy a little summer together.... even if it means working....
Realigned and nimble after a week of our yoga in denia, we sadly leave & head back to the station - heading north. 9 hours of travel today- alicante via madrid, to San sebastian. To our delight it hasn't been as awful as that sounds! The Spanish know how to while away the hours - sparkling wine on arrival onboard the train, 3 course lunch with wine, more wine, more food, more wine! We've gotten our money's worth from the railpass today alone!!
Siesta time! I think we have the hang of the culture here!!
Balance - that's what it's all about. Yoga ... Life & also a good holiday. When researching our yoga portion of the holiday, I wanted to ensure it was a little more everday joe, than a complete ashram experience - I mean we couldn't go cold turkey from our lunch and dinner vinos! So, thinking we were among purests after our intro meeting where everyone sipped on fresh juice, we'd just had a cold cervaza in our room... We thought it would be an interesting week... As with everything, balance was retained by midweek when 3 of the yogis sucuumbed to temptation - stayed up till 6am drinking with fellow English sailor hotel guests. Managing perhaps to tip the scale a little with their passing out in the bathroom and missing morning yoga! This was the yoga retreat for us!
A few of our yoga party animals with nicole, our fantastic teacher, and kirsten, the funniest Scottish lass we've met!
Well, in a little under 30mins we are about to head downstairs for the welcome meeting for our week of yoga here in denia, Spain. Andy dubbed it yoga camp of course, and is eager to suss out the competition. The meeting includes refreshments before our first yoga session, do you think these are refreshments of the cocktail variety? Here's hoping! We'll track andys progress and keep you informed - let's call this one "before".
Excited we arrive, a little lighter, but en Espana nonetheless! Yes, Ryan air, cheap little beauties they are - but tough on their excess baggage rules. Happy to entertain, we "cleansed" our backpacks for all to see at the check-in desk. After our first tasty authentic tapas meal at the airport we caught a bus two hours south to Denia. We arrived at 11pm, a little tired and ill prepared - I didn't have the hotel address written anywhere. You can imagine, bus station, 11pm = not so glamorous part of town. With neither of us willing to sense or scout out this hotel, we call a cab. The cab was more than happy to come and transport us the two blocks he could before we reached the pedestrianized zone wherein our hotel lay! Another day on the road with the castors!!
To be sure we enjoyed tasty fresh Valencia orange juice this morning. The Spanish tiles are all so beautiful. The hotel is a restored manor, below is the pretty bathroom tile!
Oh except for this little strech, it mostly followed the river.
Seconds before I went over the handle bars ending up in that river shown in the first photo.
You can always get a hold of us on skype. Just add brookecastor as your friend. If you don't get a hold of us just leave a text message and we'll call you from the next wifi spot. If it's not too late there.
About a mile up the driveway was this amazing villa. It was great to see our MB friends and the 3days here were action packed. We are still waiting to find out how much that marble table imported from Singapore is going to cost. Luckly Brooke and I did not break it because I think it would be around half of our Europe budget.
This pool was really amazing. But the view was no good. Ha! I kid
I first visited this seaside town in January 1994, it was great fun to return 15 years later with andy and a few more scraps of French to pull together a sentence or two. Other than us, only French tourists in town - a good test to get me back into gear with the language. Sanary is close to Toulon, bordering Provence and the French riviera.
Sweet life it was, staying on this little farm where the host shared a drink with us in his cellar, of his wine from the barrel - proscuitto for andy right off the bone, olive oil poured fresh for us and as many cherries as we could pick!!
Off the night train, straight to the airport via that little tower in Pisa with all our belongings - to pick up a rental car. Following two days were spent rambling around the picturesque Tuscan countryside.
Ok, yesterday was a pretty fun Brooke day. We're staying in a little village outside of Avignon, in Provence and I decided it was well worth the splurge to take a little wine tasting trip around the cote du rhone region. To both our delight, we were the only ones on the trip - so we were chauffered around the provencal countryside tasting wine into the evening. It was beautiful, however it's a little too early in the season for lavender blooms and sunflowers. We spent most of our time in chateau neuf du pape which was pretty special for me as I can remember learning about this wine in one of my first French lectures at uni, before we learnt any new vocab! So - these grapes are grown with pebbles scattered over the top layer of soil - serving as a blanket for the crops in the evening, releasing warmth from the days sun. Also these grapes must be harvested by hand and cannot be irrigated - the roots must find the water source - geeky, boring, I know! But they tasted pretty awesome. To complete the experience we had an eccentric French guy guiding us through the tasting - correcting us along the way and giving us a good education on tasting- watch out next time we're tasting with you - we're sure to embarrass with our slurping and swirling style!! Chin chin!!
Food's great, wine is cheap and andy has a personal translator. He no longer thinks about the basketball games he's missing - he now concentrates his time perfecting the moves on his rollerblades. Oui oui, c'est parfait!
On the ferry over from Dubrovnik, Croatia we met a bunch of fellow backpackers that were driving to Rome that night. Driving to make their morning flight back to new York from Rome, that is! So when the ferry got in at midnight (after being delayed for 3 hours) we decided (ie; captain adventure aka mr castor couldnt resist the adventure), to drive with them to Rome. We arrived in Rome at 5 in the morning with no plan and nowhere to stay. But it all worked out. Right now we are in the hotel and dead tired from walking all over the place. We were extremely lucky that this hotel has had the best bed and shower on the trip this far!
Here we are at the Colosseum. Just outside a huge crowd had assembled for the winners circle of the cycle race. So while we were walking into the Colosseum the crowd outside was cheering for the champions. It was pretty impactful.
The Sistine Chaple. We were a bit exhausted at this point because it took around 3 hours in the tour to get to this point but still pretty amazing. Actually I take it back Michelangelo is a hack!! Haha
Sitting here waiting for the ferry to Bari, Italy. A real dump according to the Lonely Planet but is the only way to get to Italy from Dubrovnik,Croatia. We've had a great time in Croatia and had some good laughs in Dubrovnik. We bought a painting from this guy on the street and talked to him for about half a hour then he volunteered to help us look for this Bosnian coffee grinder that Brooke had seen in Split,Croatia. We walked all over Dubrovnik and along the way our tour guide/street painter would point out little things, like the watermelon size creaters in the sides of buildings from bombs that had gone off in the city walls. And also how many of the roofs around the city had also been replaced from the bombing.
A pretty amazing little town with lots of fun places to eat along the little streets.
This bar was built right into the sides of a cliff and after your drink you could jump off the cliffs into the water for a swim.
This is the view out our window. To the right you can see the town of Korcula, which is this amazing medieval walled town.
Our first day here and we ate at this little pizzera. This was pretty hilarious because this restaurant was actually two completly different restaurants sharing the same space. There was this line of demarcation where one side had blue table clothes while the other had red ones. This was explained to us by the maître d. "This is big problem, yes big problem" he said while we decided in which place we were going to eat.
Here is Split, Croatia. Hot as hell and a bit of a tourist trap as all the big cruise ships dock here. The locals smile and say their price, then frown when you say "too much". Brooke and I have been enjoying learning some of the language and people tend to be a bit more accepting when you at least try.
We got a nice place just back from town and had a great night listening to the local little kids play on their bikes outside. Getting the most out of their Sunday before school on Monday.
Having some tasty wine before we get on the ferry to the little island of korcula. Supposed to be amazing.
Oh and no peeing on this street, but it seems that many other streets are fair game because everyone seems to do it since bathrooms are rare.
Its 2010 - the dreamy trip to Europe is well behind & and we are staring down the barrel of a massive remodel for our new home. If you're free this weekend, come on over with your hard hat & helpful attitude!
------ (So last year - The Castors are off on an adventure! Brooke & Andy are taking 3 months off work to set out on a backpacking adventure across Europe. Stay tuned for stories, updates and no doubt ... Castor disasters....)