Friday, April 11, 2008

Horseback riding in the Pyrenees Mountains in France

So, there we were, in Paris, and we had planned on taking the train, 5 hours or so southwest of Paris, and head to Lourdes, famous as the place where Bernadette Soubirous saw apparitions of Mother Mary. But before we actually get there by train, we have to do one of our stupid adventure screw ups.... We get off at Pau, a town about 2 stops before Lourdes itself. The funny thing is, we actually asked a French girl on the train, if this stop at Pau, is the stop that we get off, if we want to go to Lourdes. Don't ask why we even thought, Pau would be the right stop, instead of a stop called Lourdes. Anyway, she said "oui, ahhh, yes, for sure it is", so we got off, and within minutes realized how stupid we are!!!

Luckily, there was one more train 20 minutes behind us, so we bought 2 new tickets, and got on the next train. Crazy lying French bitch!!!! lol

Once we got to the town of Lourdes which sits on the Pyrenean foothills, in southwestern France we were quit happy after a long train ride.

The place is kind of freaky...there are Mother Mary water bottles where you actually drink from her head. Weird stuff. Then there are Mother Mary cups, pictures, playing cards, statues, books, dolls, neon signs, it just goes on. One kid walking with his friends, on a school or church trip, said it best...."this place is kind of creepy and weird"

Although, saying that, the actual religious part of the town is beautiful, and does have a special vibe to it. Just stay away from the Vegas part of town, where all the souvenier shops and hotels are.

Anyway, we decided to head further into the mountains and go to the town of Gavarnie, about a 40 minute drive from Lourdes. Here we would get a couple of horses and go horseback riding into the mountains, towards the Cirque de Gavarnie, a breathtaking rock amphitheatre, 1500m high, dominated by ice-capped peaks.

We get to the town, and go to the stable, and negotiate the price for the horses. After we did that, the French guy, gives us the two ropes for the horses, and just hands them to us, and goes, you have to go that way, and it will take you around 1 hour to reach the waterfall. My wife and I both look at each other, and have this look of surprise and laughter. We tell him, "are you not coming with us?" He says in his heavy French accent...."no!!"
Considering I'm a well distinguished equestrian rider, I was OK with this.....pause.....NOT!!!

We only have been on horses a couple other times in our life, what makes this guy think we could not only go ourselves, but come back alive with his horses???

After a few minutes, he decided to come with us, not because he cared about our safety, but more like he cared about the safety of his horses!!!

The ride did end up being incredible, and the views breathtaking. This part of France is awesome, and if you ever get a chance to go, make sure you visit the Pyrenees in southwestern France.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Paddo, Paddo, Paddo...tan ya ghe up!!!

In January, 2008, we ended up taking a trip to the north coast of the Dominican Republic. It was awesome, since we got it free with AirMiles, so no complaints there.

We stayed in Playa Dorada area, and rented a car, to take various day trips from that area. One of the places we went to was Playa Encuentro which is near the town of Cabarete. It is really famous for surfing. I decided to finally take a short course on surfing instead of just going into the water, and trying it out. So, we get this guy from Buena Onda Surf School, who are located right on the beach. Well the guy who taught me some basics was awesome, and I learned a lot of stuff that I thought I was doing right before, but never had anyone in the water telling me my mistakes as I surf. The problem was the language barrier, as he had a very heavy Spanish accent. My wife was taking pics and filming, and it was classic, since he kept telling me this one thing, which became the "quote" of our trip to the was "paddo, paddo, paddo, tan ya ghe up!!" Of coarse what he was saying was "paddle, paddle, paddle, then you get up!!"

Well, I did just that in the water, I paddo, paddo, paddo....

This place was awesome, and the people of the DR were really cool. Driving in this country was really fun, as it wasn't boring like back home in needed to pass, skid, avoid potholes (more like giant caves), avoid old motor bikes and brake all the time.

This is the type of place, on the north coast of the DR that I would love to live....

Catch you on the water, and remember....Paddo, Paddo, Paddo...tan ya ghe up!!!