January 6, 2014
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Christmas 2013 was spent in an unlikely location. Not a winter wonderland like northern Europe, not a mysterious realm like eastern Europe, and not a warm paradise like Spain or Italy. On Christmas, I went to Tarbes. To say goodbye.
I bet most people don’t know where Tarbes is. Heck, I wouldn’t even know where Tarbes was unless I had a friend studying there. So, Tarbes is a small town located in southwestern France, almost at the border between France and Spain, right by the Pyrenees mountain ranges. It isn’t really known for tourism, unless you’re interested in skiing in the nearby Pyrenees. Yet, the reason why I went to Tarbes for Christmas wasn’t to undertake some extravagant travel for the holiday season. Just the opposite, in fact. I would spend the few days after Christmas in this tranquil little town, relaxing and catching up with my “chef” with whom I traveled in Switzerland and Belgium in 2012. It had been almost another 8 months since I last saw chef briefly in an unexpected encounter in Brussels, and how glad I was to see my dear friend again in his city 😉
(I really regret not taking more photos of Tarbes. It’s a typical French town, but I especially loved its river, its lake, and the mountains that sometimes seemed RIGHT in front of you. Too bad I forgot to bring my camera during our long stroll on day 1 and missed out on the photo opportunities 😦 😦 😦 )
I stayed at chef’s apartment during my visit and upon entering the small flat, realized that chef and his friends were preparing for a Chinese hot pot dinner which happened to be on the night of my arrival (Christmas night). Now, I’ve eaten plenty of Christmas meals at various gatherings before this, and I’m sure my weight is increasing exponentially this holiday season…but hey! It’s worth it, right? And hot pot on a cold, rainy night? Couldn’t be more perfect. Apparently it rains more in Tarbes than it does in Bordeaux, says chef. Gah, we already have enough rain in Bordeaux. How do you put up with MORE?