September 18, 2012

Confessions of the Euro-fluenced: Days 73-76

Well, we found the Paris that we were looking for. 
They just forgot to tell us that they changed its name to Avignon.

We stayed in a quaint little hotel in the center of old town... 'quaint' and 'little' may be overstatements. I'm not sure what the French word is for"having to cut the toilet seat lid in half so it can fit in the bathroom."


Is there even an English word for that?

The hotel was ok. Two different guidebooks recommended it, and it was cheap, and we had a roof over our heads, and black-out curtains at the window, so I will quit my complaining. 

Avignon, to me, gave off a very romantic vibe. More cobblestone streets. Whitewashed walls with blue-green shutters. Long, dark alleys with elegant cafes at the end of them. Gelato and kebab stands on every corner. Mostly, though, it was Avignon's indefinable vibe that has attracted me to it (What gives a city its vibe? The people? Its history? My mood?) It was fun to wander those alleys, avoiding piles of dog crap (Seriously, French people, take responsibility for your dog's poo!), and to discover what kind of shop or park or restaurant would be just around the corner.

For dinner one night, we chose a guidebook/TripAdvisor recommendation called La Vache a Carreaux, which translates to The Cow Tile. The menu had a recurring cheese theme, so we decided that, sure, we will order something with cheese in it:

Andrew's appetizer: The cheese platter with 8 different kinds of cheese.
Melissa's appetizer: A chef salad with cheese cubes and and accompaniment of garlic bread with gobs of melted cheese on top.

Andrew's main: Broiled chicken and chorizo drowned in cheese sauce.
Melissa's main: Broiled goat cheese with candied sweet onions on top.

We opted to not go with cheesecake for dessert.  We. Just. Couldn't. 

I didn't think it was possible for me, an admitted cheesaholic, to be cheesed out... But I was. And even though our food was served suspiciously fast, and both our entrees looked eerily similar, we had a good time. It was good. But still... Even I will say that the menu needed a bit more variety!

We also opted out of eating churros while we were in Spain, and instead, tried them here. Conclusion? French churros are JUST as satisfying!

Another highlight was taking our last flight for this trip. From here until London (3 WEEKS!!) we will be getting our train on...even taking the night train. 

Translation: No more 17lb carry-on weight limit. 

Further translation: We are only limited to what we can carry on our backs. (With Andrew's amazing husbandly qualities, that really  means no limit.)

A more specific translation: I can now buy souvenirs.

An even more specific translation: I can buy new clothes!!

And boy did Avignon's local H&M and I have quite a therapy session. It was a very expensive, but enjoyable, session.

For a side trip one day, we crossed the river to a tinier town called Villeneuve les Avignon. We shopped the market and ate wonderful pizza in the park with a great view. This was the kind of view that I've been waiting for all along... Rolling green hills of the French countryside. Brace yourselves, friends, I'm going to say it once more... Avignon (and surrounding area)... is my favorite place so far!!! And the good thing is, I think Italy will be even MORE FAVORITE (enter Brian-Regan-joke-that-I-can't-remember here).

Oh, and I also discovered that French snails love to attach themselves to plants on sunny parts of the hills to die. I have yet to google that phenomenon. I was quite mesmerized by the vast numbers of these snails. And they were mostly very small... Like the size of an eraser on a pencil. So small. So mysterious. Of course, if there was somewhere where I would have to park my shell to die, with a view like that, well, I may choose a sunny French hillside too!

As I write this, we are on a three hour train ride to Nice. I have pretty low, or no expectations of Nice (mostly because we are tired of big cities), so I am quite excited to see what it has to offer!

>FOOD .5

The Turner FLACH Rating? 4 Parisian stars.

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