Yes yes, I know it’s been almost two weeks (again) since the last update, but I had big plans. March is a very active month because of two main events. First, LY, a friend/colleague from my lab in Belgium, came to visit last week, and we went on a 3-day trip to some places around Bordeaux. Second, the annual IDS-FunMat training school is taking place next week…in Annecy! Since it’s so close to Switzerland, I planned a little detour to Geneva and Lausanne with my IDS colleagues, but you’ll read about that when I come back at the end of March 😉
Alright, let’s first talk about my visitor from Belgium and our little trip. We’ve been planning LY’s visit since what, last November? All the details – itineraries, flights, train tickets, hotels, places to visit – have been arranged. So I awaited his arrival on Thursday and the journey began.
There are two must-see points of interests for any visitor in Bordeaux, outside of the city itself: Saint-Émilion and Arcachon, both of which I had been to (perhaps too many times, to Saint-Émilion). And we were going to do both places in one day, as proposed by my guest. I was skeptical for two reasons: timing and weather. In order for this to work, we’d have to leave quite early and hop on and off trains and buses non-stop. As for the weather, early March may be a bit too cold for Arcachon and the Dune du Pilat, and the forecast predicted rain for the entire weekend…uh oh.
Even with the skepticism in mind, we went. I mean, we couldn’t have let months of planning go to waste, right? Saint-Émilion would be alright in the rain, but Arcachon would have been disastrous if it rained, but no such worries existed in the end because we were blessed with the most gorgeous weather of this year by far. I guess my friend was right in saying that luck accompanies him wherever he goes 😉
The morning started in Saint-Émilion when we realized that…LY left his memory card at home. So I lent him mine. I’ve probably already taken enough pictures of Saint-Émilion to last a lifetime anyway. I did take a photo or two with his Canon EOS 60D though, and this is one of them. I liked this photo so much that I put it on Picture Worthy and named it “City and vineyards”, as the town of Saint-Émilion could be seen in a distance, contrasted with the vineyards, still leafless, right in front of us 🙂
A lady in pink was tending to the vineyards. It was just slightly disappointing that neither leafs nor grapes could be seen in March, but the endless rows of poles in the fields were still a magnificent sight. (Photo courtesy of LY 😉 )
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned in a previous post, but Saint-Émilion is a town filled with cats wandering everywhere. When LY and I stopped by the tourism office, one of them was taking a nap and posing like a cat model. What a pretty little thing! I think it knew we were coming and was deliberately posing for us. Well played, cat. (Photo courtesy of LY)
Well that ends it for the Saint-Émilion part, quite brief, but the highlight of the day was probably Arcachon, where the largest sand dune in Europe, the Dune du Pilat, is located. This was my second time going to the dune, the first being last summer with Sherry. With a giant forest on one side and the Atlantic Ocean (not shown) on the other, it’s hard to say which is more vast – the green, the blue, or the gold.
Allons-y, let’s get movin’! The climb to the top of the dune is made more difficult without the long stairs that are installed only during the summer season, but it was worth the effort! I didn’t think that so many people would visit the dune in March, as it was still considered low season, but who would miss such a splendid day? I think it was a whooping 18 degrees Celsius that day and even with the ocean wind, I felt like I could almost wear just shorts and a T-shirt. (Photo courtesy of LY)
And there’s my friend LY, who seemed to be slightly overjoyed to be in France 😉 We took a series of funny and overly dramatic photos at the dune, including this one which was supposed to seem like he was jumping off a cliff. It didn’t really work. The downhill slope was actually REALLY steep that it seriously looked like a cliff, but if he moved any closer he would have risked rolling down the hill…
…and as the sunset approached, it was time for us to go and catch the last bus back to the Arcachon train station. It would have been a perfect day to watch the sun sink into the distant Atlantic horizon, but that wouldn’t be until at least 6:30pm, and we would have missed the bus 😦 Longer daylight hours do bring about some disadvantages, I suppose 😛
One last look at the Atlantic Ocean before we headed off, ending a very fulfilling though tiring day. This was only day 1, or day 2, if you count Bordeaux as day 1. On Saturday we would head to Carcassonne with a stop in Toulouse on Sunday, and these posts will be coming…soon! 😉