August 1 – Montpellier
Today we got up and had breakfast on Claude and Jeanine’s porch. After breakfast I quickly wrote reviews for some of the places we have stayed and Thomas showed off our website. Then, I got changed and went with Jeanine to their neighbor’s house who is on vacation and who have a pool! Jeanine is looking after their house and dog so we can go swimming in their pool. I mostly just laid by the pool and read my book because it is getting exciting but Thomas joined me and we went for a swim.
Once we dried we went inside and had lunch of tomatoes, cucumber, tapenade, bread, cheese and a soup that was like gazpacho. The food here is so fresh and delicious I just love it. Then, we quickly got ready and got in the car to visit Aigues Morts. We arrived at the salt harvesting place and bought tickets for the little train tour. We just had to wait half an hour for the next tour so we checked out the gift shop and read the information they gave us about the site. When the train arrived we hopped in and off we went.
The tour took us through the salt marshes which were spectacular mostly because they were coloured bright pink since they were getting close to their highest concentration which is at the end of the summer. The little train weaved in and out of the different salt fields and then stopped at a midway gift shop where they showed a film that had the same information we already knew. Here, I bought some sel de fleur though which is the salt that forms on the top of the marshes on hot days in the summer. We all enjoyed the tour a lot. Then, we got back into the car and drove to the wall of the city.
We parked outside the walls and walked inside. It was a really nice town with lots of shops. I finally bought a blanket that I had been seeing lots of places and wanting and another highlight was a church that had super modern stained glass in it. When we were done in the city we got back in the car and drove to Claudes daughter’s house for dinner. They had the most beautiful property with a big garden and lots of space all around. We had a really awesome dinner with olives, melon and prosciutto, savory loaves, spring rolls, cheese and a chocolate brownie for dessert. The whole family was also really nice and we had a great time with them.
August 2 – Montpellier
Today we didn’t get the earliest start but we made it into Montpellier just after noon. We first walked passed a large building towards the train station. Along the way we made a stop at tourist info where we got a bus schedule so we could catch the bus from Claude and Jeanine’s house. At the train station we reserved seats on the train to Barcelona and also the TGV to Paris a week from now. It was super useful that we booked those because it is just one less thing to worry about.
After the train station we walked around in their mall a little bit to cool down and we shared a Panini for lunch. Once we were done with the mall we walked through the old town and towards the ancient aqueduct. It was a beautiful park and the aqueduct structure was really nice as well.
We sat in the park in the shade for awhile and just relaxed. We left that park and headed to the Jardins du plants that was near the medical building of the university. I think this garden is used for university research but I’m not sure. We explored the garden a little and Thomas gave me a photo tutorial. At 5:30pm it was time to get on the tram to meet Jeanine at the station where she was picking us up at 6. We met her and when we got home we went swimming in the pool again. After I had a shower we had dinner of tapenade, melon, chicken pork or lamb, potatoes, seasoned tomatoes and of course wine and cheese. It was a really lovely dinner in their backyard. After dinner I just looked up train times for our day trip to Avignon tomorrow and then went to bed!
August 3 – Montpellier
Today we were supposed to go to Avignon but after we had a late start we realized that was no longer in the cards. Instead, we figured out how to get to the beach and decided to do that. We caught a ride with Claude to the tram and then headed off. We stopped at tourist information to get the timetable for the buses to the beach and then headed on our way. It was surprisingly easy to get to the closest beach. All we had to do was take the tram to the end of the line and then right there was a bus that would continue to the beach.
The beach was super beautiful with super fine sand and stretched on for kilometers along the coast. We found a nice spot and swam and hung out for a little while. When we got hungry we packed up and walked to a little beach trailer and got paninis! It was good and when we were done we returned to our spot again for awhile longer. At around 3:30 I felt like I was getting too much sun and we headed out for the journey back. It was easy to get back into town and while we were there we decided to walk through the old town which we had missed yesterday. We got some ice cream and wandered through the narrow streets. It was really good and then we caught the tram back towards Parades-des-lez. We transferred onto the bus and walked up the hill to the house. For dinner we tried escargot (!!!) which I found to be okay when I was able to ignore my brain. We also had pasta and a delicious tomato salad!
August 4 – Montpellier
This morning we headed to Carcassonne on the train. The trip was about 2 hours long so we didn’t arrive until after 1 pm. When we got out of the train station the tourist information office was just across the street so we were able to pick up a map with a walking tour indicated on it and head on our way. We did the walking tour and found a nice spot to have lunch! We both got the Panini combo which included a drink and dessert. For dessert I got a delicious nutella crepe mmmm… After lunch we headed to the fortified city.
It was getting super hot out so the walk felt long up the hill. When we got to the walls we could see actors dressed in medieval costumes sword fighting and just occupying the city to make it look more realistic. We wandered through the crowded narrow streets that had lots of souvenir shops. We made it to the castle which is a French national monument so with my EU passport I can get in for free. Thomas showed his ID to get the student discount but I guess since it said “British” Columbia the lady though he was British as well! Super handy. The castle was kind of cool but mostly just had good views of the city surrounding. When we left the castle we continued through the city and then walked back down to the centre of town.
We got some food for dinner to take on the train and just sat by the river for a little while before it was time to get on the train. Then, we hopped on the train and started the journey home. We made it to Montpellier and then got the tram out to an exterior stop. There, we had to wait an hour for the bus to come. It was alright though because there is a fountain there and places to sit. When we got back we were both pretty tired so we soon got ready for bed.
August 5 – Montpellier
Today we had a super slow day just sleeping in and doing not much in the morning. I spent the time organizing my things and getting ready for the trip to Barcelona. When we got going we were able to get a ride into town because they were going in anyways. We walked around the downtown noticing that pretty much everything was closed. We did walk all along the commercial area where the Olympic swimming pool is and Europe place.
There were some really amazing buildings and beautiful fountains so it was a nice place to visit. After about three hours we called to see if Claude and Jeanine to see when they wanted to go back home. They were ready then so we headed out to the tram stop where they were. That afternoon Thomas and I went to the neighbor’s pool and then had dinner. After dinner we went to bed ready to head to Spain the next day.
July 28 – Cannes
We had a great sleep in our nice air conditioned hotel room. We woke up slowly but then got out of the door pretty quick! We walked down a walking street that had tons of stores to look at along the way. We reached the Monoprix where we bought some food for breakfast. From there, we continued along the shopping street and then up to the old town which is located on a hill. At the top there is a castle with some awesome views. We then headed down and back along the boardwalk where we took photos on the red carpet and visited the tourist info place. We walked back to our hotel and quickly changed into our beach wear.
We decided to go to the beach a little further away from the centre because it is supposed to be less busy. We found a spot amongst all the other beach goers and spent the afternoon swimming and tanning/reading. It was super nice and the water is the perfect temperature for swimming. We were also able to swim out and stand on these large pipes that were about 40 metres from shore. Once we both started to feel a little sunburned we decided to head back to the hotel. I took a shower and then caught up on my journals and photos! We went out for dinner from our hotel and found a Donair place. We got some food and then headed back to the boardwalk.
We sat on a wall and watched these guys who were practicing acrobats on the beach. They were flipping around and holding themselves out on a pole and other crazy stuff. It was cool. When we were done we walked towards the place when the film festival happens and looked at the handprints in the pavement. It wasn’t that great because that is where skateboarders hang out and all the cement was broken so. We walked across the street and saw an art market where people were selling paintings and also things they had made like wood and metal works. From there we just meandered back to the hotel and went to sleep.
July 29 – Cannes
Today our plan was to head to Monaco to see the sights there! We made it on our way to catch the 10:30 train and hopped on. We got some nice views along the coast on the way there but I ended up falling asleep at some point. We arrived in Monaco and after we made our way out from the very far underground train station we just started walking. We walked along the famous port that holds all of the yachts (I think the whole south of France is a big port for yachts) and then up the hill following the race track the whole way. We made it to the famous hairpin corner which I learned is actually shaped like a hairpin, hence the name. We continued up the hill until we got to one of the biggest casinos in Monaco that has a series of fountains in front of it. From there we just walked back down to the port a different way and got some more views along the way. After getting a Panini for lunch we headed back to the train station and caught a train back to Cannes.
- Thomas at the hairpin corner
When we got back to Cannes we headed to the beach for a few hours. We tried a different beach today, this one was the closest to our hotel and it was a really great beach! It was super wide so there was more space for everyone. There was a lot of wind so the waves were really big! It was so fun to float around in the waves and I think it was pretty unusual for them to be this big because they were washing into people’s towels! After we went home and had a shower we went back to the boardwalk for dinner where we had the best paninis yet at a place that I wish I could remember the name. After our sandwiches we decided to go down to the beach even though we had heard earlier from the hotel staff that the firework show was cancelled because of the wind. We had a really awesome evening sitting on the beach watching the sunset and enjoying the night on the beach with lots of other people who were actually waiting for the fireworks.
July 30 – Cannes
Today we slept in – a lot. We finally got out of the hotel around 11:30. We headed to the Monoprix where we got some delicious croissants, pain aux chocolate and paninis to get us through the day and then headed to the ferries. We caught the ferry at 12:30 and the ride to Ile St. Margarite was around 15 minutes. We got off the boat and started walking around the island. We quickly realized that the far side of the island didn’t have sandy beaches but it did have super clear water and sand away from the shore. We just needed to find a place where we could put our towel down that was relatively flat. We finally came across a place and man there was a lot of yachts in the area between the two islands because the water was so clear. We found an okay spot on a rock that was covered with dried seaweed(but everywhere was covered with dried seaweed) and set up camp. We immediately stumbled over some rocks into the water and we both had a great time swimming around looking at fish and enjoying the super clear water. When we got out of the water though we remembered what prima-donnas we were about cleaning off salt water and after a few minutes of uncomfortable sticky/itchyness we headed back to the port. At the port there were luckily showers so we were able to clean off the salt and then just lounge on the dock until the next boat came. I actually really enjoyed laying on the dock so it was a nice time. When we got back to the mainland we headed to our regular beach where we knew there would be showers and nice soft sand. We had a nice few hours hanging out there and then headed back to our hotel.
At the hotel we showered and got changed. We headed out to look for some shoes for Thomas and to get dinner. We didn’t have any success finding shoes but we got salad and Thomas got a Donair for dinner. After a picnic dinner in our room while watching Big Brother we headed out to get ready for the fireworks! On the way down to the beach Thomas and I both got soft serve ice cream which was so delicious! I got chocolate and pistachio and Thomas got caramel and chocolate. All the flavours were really delicious and we wished we had eaten more soft serve while we were here! We set ourselves on the beach and waited for the fireworks. It was fun to see the people all flocking in towards the beaches. By the time it was about to start I couldn’t believe how many people there were. The firework show was completely amazing and we found out it was a competition and this week it was spain. The whole thing was done to music and it was just amazing to watch. When we got back to the hotel we immediately tried to see if there was any way we could make it back here for the next show.
July 24 – Zermatt
Today was the day we headed to Zermatt. We caught the train around 10:30 I think to Visp. On the platform we met a lady from San Francisco who was so crazy and cool. She was a serious traveler and always on the road. We chatted with her on the platform and then on the train. She gave us her travel card and then she got off before we did.
When we got to Visp we had to transfer trains. We hopped onto the new train that was actually the Glaicer Express train with the large windows. We didn’t know but we actually needed a ticket for this train, our Eurail didn’t cover it. Luckily, when the ticket lady came around and we figured out our mistake we were able to just buy a ticket right then. We did get a 25% discount on the ticket with Eurail but it still came to 50 francs roundtrip. The train ride was really beautiful and I was super happy that we got to enjoy the nice Glacier express train because we later found out that it was just a fluke and they usually use these old crappy trains for that route (which we took on the way down).
When we got to Zermatt we headed straight to our hostel and found out we couldn’t check in until 4pm. We were able to leave our bags though so we did that and headed into the village. We got some food from the grocery store and went into all the souvenir shops. When we were finally able to check in we went back to the hostel. The lady at the front desk was really nice and we were assigned our room and beds. The hostel was just a regular hostel with bunk beds and lockers. The floor was a little dirty but it was okay. For dinner we went to a pub called the Brown Cow where we had burgers and fries that were really delicious! Once it got dark we just went to the hostel and went to bed.
July 25 – Zermatt
Today we got up and headed straight for the grocery store where we bought food for breakfast and lots of food for lunch and snacks while we were hiking. Then, we headed straight for the train that would take us to the top of the mountain – an area called Gornergrat. We had to wait for a little while for the train and it was lucky that we did because we saw the goat parade go through the village! The goats were so cute they had really long hair and they were exactly half black and half white. After the goat parade it was almost time to catch the train so we got on.
The train was really packed but we were able to find seats and the ride lasted about half an hour. At the top we could immediately feel the lack of oxygen and it was hard to just walk up a small hill to a viewpoint. The view from the top was so amazing though with a view of more than 5 large glaciers on one side and the Matterhorn and the mountain range. Once we were done at the top we started walking down the mountain towards a lake that reflected the Matterhorn if it wasn’t too windy. It took us about half an hour to get to the lake and we were pretty lucky because we could actually see a reflection a little bit even though the fish in the lake were making ripples. We had lunch by the lake and took a rest before we continued down the mountain.
We next stopped at one of the train stops on the way down. We continued down the mountain taking breaks when we needed them and taking lots of photos. Part of the train was super steep and I was a little scared. I felt like we were billy goats trekking down the mountain. At the last train stop before the bottom we decided to just keep walking and not take the train at all. Walking through the forested area to the bottom felt just like we were in BC. It was quite a bit further through the trees to the bottom but we made it. When we got to the hostel we were so tired that we just had a shower and then sat in the pub all night. We started chatting with a guy from Portugal that was hilarious and we had an awesome long talk with him about his travels. Before we went to bed we got some gelato and then we went to sleep with sore muscles.
If you want to see a bunch of photos with the Matterhorn in the background for sure click HERE!
July 21 – Geneva
This morning we got ready to head out with Victor at 10. We all were a little slow but we did get going and Dolly gave us a ride to the tram stop.
We took the tram into town which was really simple and then first headed to the tourist office. There, we got a map of the city, the public transit system and some info about the boats on the lake. From there, we walked along the lake towards the UN building. Along the way we got some great views of the coastline and some cute little houses that have been turned into museums and parks. We made our way all along and reached the botanical gardens. We walked through these lovely gardens until we reached the UN building. The building is pretty stunning with all the flags on flagpoles lining a road entrance to the building. We took some photos in front of the building and in the fountains and then kept going.
We caught the tram close to the old town and got off. We walked up the hill into the old town and ate lunch on some steps. The weather was perfect and just the right temperature. Continuing up the hill we saw the old church and tower and then walked down the hill. We walked through a park at the bottom of the hill where there were lots of people playing on the giant chess and checker boards. From here, we walked back to the lakeshore stopping at the grocery store for some snacks. We made our way to the boat dock and just sat and waited for the boat to arrive. When the boat arrived we said goodbye to Victor and hopped on.
The boat ride was really nice and there was a little commentary noting the main sites along the shore. Considering it was included in our rail pass it was definitely worth it! After the boat ride we just headed back to Dolly and Ewald’s house where we had some delicious Indian food for dinner of lentils, eggplant and potato mixture and rice. It was so tasty. After dinner I wasn’t feeling well, probably from the sun, so I went to bed pretty early after watching big brother and had a nice long sleep.
July 22 – Geneva (Gruyere)
This morning the plan was to go to Chamonix and Mont Blanc but when we got up the weather was calling for rain. Instead, we decided to go to Gruyere to see how the cheese is made and enjoy the town! Dolly was kind enough to offer to take us on an outing since it was Sunday so she offered to take us on this trip. Victor and Radika both decided to come as well so we all headed off after breakfast.
We had a lovely drive along lake Geneva and about 45 minutes after we left the lake side we realized we were supposed to make a turn to the other direction when we left the lake. We were able to find another route on the map though and also realized that there was GPS built into the car! The route that we ended up taking was on some smaller roads but it was actually really nice to see some of the country side and we drove by another stunning glacial lake as well.
We made it to the Gruyere cheese factory and entered the museum. At the entrance we also received samples of the cheese (one 5 months, 8 months, 12 months). The museum was interesting and the audio guide was hilarious with a cow taking you through cheese making from the start to the finish. We also saw the cellars where the cheese is kept during its curing time. I loved going to the cheese factory and would definitely recommend it.
Outside the factory, we sat down on the grass and had our packed lunches. Once we were all filled we headed towards the town and castle. The whole area around Gruyere was so charming and there were cows along the path and then we walked up into what I would picture a Swiss town to be in my head. It was so nice. Then, we walked a little further to the castle that was also picture perfect. There were valley views all around the castle and the weather ended up being really nice aside from being really windy. When we were done at the castle we walked back through the town where I bought some special meringues from an old lady on the street. We snacked on some as we headed back to the car.
On the way home, we were all a little sleepy for some reason but we chatted and took the correct route the whole way. When we got back to Geneva we went to a super good gelato shop on the lake. The ice cream was super delicious and we tried to walk with it on the lake but it was so windy that it was just blowing everywhere. After we finished our gelato we walked on the walkway to the Jet d’eau and the waves were so big they were splashing onto the walkway! It was super windy! It was fun to see the lake so stormy and when we were done there we decided to walk to the flower clock. We walked through a festival that was happening on the water front and there was a band playing. It was really cool. Once we saw the clock we headed back to the car along the water.
July 23 – Geneva
Today we wanted to go to Cern and get a tour but when Victor helped us call in the morning we realized that we would have had to be super organized to go there early. We decided to just go and check out their exhibit and not worry about the tour. We hadn’t realized how far away it was so we didn’t get there until about 12:30. The exhibit was super cool and we managed to time it just right so we saw the video also. They had lots of interactive exhibits to learn about the projects and better understand what they were doing. They had some round chairs with commentary that I listened to which was cool.
When we left there we headed back into town to get some lunch. We stopped at a Donair place and got two. These donairs were really good. They tasted more like the ones we had back in Greece. Yum yum. After we ate those we just spent the afternoon walked around the downtown and shopping I guess. I bought some much needed shoes since I had worn through another pair and we scouted out souvenirs. We got back to the house in the evening and just relaxed with the family and got ready for our trip to Zermatt before we went to bed.
More photos HERE!
July 17 – Stuttgart
We arrived in Stuttgart just after noon and headed off to find our hostel. We made it to a street very close to our hostel but some construction was blocking our way and we didn’t know how to get around it. We were standing in front of a map and a nice man asked if we needed help. We told him where we were trying to go and he gave us instructions on how to get around the construction! We were so happy to be immediately met with kindness arriving in Stuttgart.
At the hostel we weren’t able to check in yet but we left our bags at the reception and set out for the tourist information office. The route lead us along a long walking street with lots of shopping. The walk went by quickly because here was so much to look at. At the tourist information I bought a “Stuttcard” that would give me discounts at the museums in Stuttgart. The biggest mistake I made on this trip was not bringing my student card. Thomas almost always gets a 50% discount at museums and other places. This is why I bought the city card and he didn’t. We left the tourist office and headed back to our hostel. Once we got there we were able to check in so we took our bags to our room and got settled.
When we were ready we headed out to the Porsche museum. It was easy to find because it is located right on the S-Bahn route. The building itself is stunning and they have really laid out the museum to showcase the cars. Almost all the walls are white or black so the cars really stand out. I found the history of the company very interesting and Ferdinand Porsche was a super smart and innovative guy. The things he came up with out of his head just blow me away. Once we got into the race car section I was pretty bored but Thomas was more interested than ever so I took a seat and just listened to all the audio guides. We had a good time there and before we left we took some pictures of the outside of the building. We took the S-Bahn back to our stop and bought some cereal for the morning and then bought Asian noodles for dinner. We just relaxed and went to sleep.
- I really don't even know if this is a porsche or a mercedes benz but there are only photos of cars from this first day.
July 18 – Stuttgart
This morning we had to wake up a little earlier to go to LEGOLAND! We caught the train and had to make one transfer but at the station in Gunzburg there was a bus just to take people to Legoland! It was so perfect and when we got there we were able to wiz past the line up for people who didn’t have tickets and just scan our online tickets at the gate. Once we were into the park we found lockers and put all of our rain gear and extra things in one. We first headed towards the far left side of the park where there were some big Lego shops that weren’t open until the afternoon and a few rides. We got in line for a ride that we didn’t actually know what it was. Once we got inside we realized it was the factory where they showed how Lego is made! How perfect because it was right at the beginning of the day.
- Lego stadium!
After that we headed towards miniature land which is pretty much the main attraction of Legoland. There were so many cities made of Lego it was totally crazy. I think every major city in Germany was made out of Lego and then many other major cities like Venice, Amsterdam and some cities in Switzerland. There were also star wars characters and machines displays which was pretty cool.
- Thomas with the Lego airport!
After this miniature land we went to a café for lunch where I had a humungous burger and Thomas got a club sandwich. It was a nice lunch and we were ready for more action after we were done. We headed out and were able to walk right into a 4D movie showing. This movie was really funny and it had no talking because the characters just made noises indicating what they were trying to saw. The movie was sort of about a lego knight that had to save a land. It was a really great 4D movie with wind, bubbles, water and a great sound system.
After the movie we lined up for a small roller coaster with cars that would only hold four people. I thought since this roller coaster was smaller that it wouldn’t be as scary but it was so scary and had such a big drop! After this little roller coaster we walked all around the park looking at the rides but we didn’t go on anymore until we got to the castle roller coaster. This roller coaster had a long dragon for the train and it was sooo fun! This roller coaster was better because it was a smooth ride and I really liked it.
We managed to show up right on time for a Chinese acrobat show so we sat and watched. The show was really crazy and they did some unbelievable tricks!
After the show we got some Lego shaped French fries that were super cool! Finally, we decided it was time to leave so we caught the shuttle bus back to the train station where we caught a train and did one transfer again. When we got back into Stuttgart we weren’t too hungry but I picked up a frozen pasta dinner and Thomas got a Donair. We went back to our hostel and hung out with the people in our room until we went to bed.
July 19 – Stuttgart
This morning we took it slow in the morning but headed out to the Mercedes Benz museum as soon as we were ready. From the start, the museum was so easy to enjoy because they provide you with an audio guide right before you enter an elevator that takes you to the start of the museum. The museum has a nice flow that you can follow in spirals all the way down to the bottom floor at the end. It follows the progression of the company and how they fit into society. We followed the company looking at their car displays, photos and videos that kept me interested most of the way through.
Once we got off the metro we both got some Donairs and I decided to do some shopping on the street near our hostel and Thomas went back to the hostel. I spent a few hours going in and out of stores. I checked out a large department store where I really wanted a huge towel but I didn’t get it. I also explored in one of the malls.
When I got back to the hostel we decided to go to the pig museum! We hopped on the U-bahn and took it a long way to the museum. It was a really fun museum with every kind of pig item you could think of including some creepy ones. We enjoyed ourselves but it didn’t take long to get through the museum so we headed back on the ubahn.
We got off at the central train station and instead of transferring to go one stop we decided to walk along the shopping street. Along the street we found a delicious take away restaurant for dinner! It was a pasta place that was called Pasta Baby. They made six kinds of pasta fresh in the shop and you could choose any of them and then choose a sauce to go along with it. They had a choice of about 12 sauces. Then, they measured out the pasta and cooked it individually in a thing that looked like a deep frying but was actually filled with water to boil the pasta. This was the best pasta we have had on the trip. It was so delicious I was thinking about getting some for lunch the next day (I didn’t.). We went back to the hostel and hung out with our roommates until we went to sleep.
Lots more awesome photos HERE!