Then at night I had a train to Rennes. I was Couch surfing in Rennes with Manuel and Camille, a young couple. They were super nice! Their house is exactly how I want mine to be. Full of books movies and doodads, teapot collection, Harry potter fan, half inside half out feel because the doors and windows were always open. They also had two beautiful cats and a garden. I got there pretty late so talked a bit then went to bed. I gave up way too quickly on my French when I realized they spoke really good English.
Wednesday I had a full day in Rennes. I had some recommendations because my friend Leticia did her Erasmus year there but I still didn’t know where anything was so I went to the tourist office for a map. I saw a bunch of pretty churches (this is Europe what else is new) some beautiful buildings and an incredible garden that I ended up wandering in and out of three times that day. For lunch I took a recommendation for a restaurant serving tartines. Basically a tartine is an open faced sandwich. I had one with brie, walnuts and honey. Unsurprisingly because this is France and what else are they known for but their cuisine, (especially bread and cheese), it was really good. In other gastronomy news, Brittany is famous for galettes, (savory crêpes made with buckwheat flour) crêpes, and salted caramel. I got a salted caramel crepe to combine two of those things and it was pretty decent. In the afternoon I went to their fine arts museum. Overall I really liked Rennes! It’s a beautiful city that’s a decent size but still manages to be charming. I wouldn’t spend years here but it filled up a day perfectly and I could see why people would want to live there. But bad news- I didn’t have time to get a postcard! This affects only me but it’ll always be a hole in the collection 😦
On Thursday in the morning I took a bus from Rennes to mt saint Michel. It’s one of the biggest tourist destinations in France. Luckily I missed the high tourist season, which starts in July, although there were still a ton of people there. It was beautiful and I’m glad I went but I honestly don’t understand the reason for the masses. It is incredible that they managed to build an abbey and a town on a giant rock, but unfortunately nowadays it has a very touristy feel. It would’ve been cool to stay in a hotel on the actual rock, but obviously they are very pricey. Anyway then I headed back to Rennes, relaxed for a little, said goodbye to my hosts, and went to meet my ride to Nantes. I used Blabla car, a ride sharing program which I think I’ve talked about before because I used it to get to Granada. I got to practice my French a lot more because this woman didn’t speak a ton of English. It was probably 75-25. I’m so ashamed of speaking in French because it’s really bad and my accent is awful, but I realize that it’s not going to get better if I don’t use it. It’s just so weird the huge discrepancy between how well I can read in French and how poorly I speak and write. I arrived in Nantes and went to call my couch surfing host then realized I hadn’t gotten her number. I thought no big deal, I’ll just go to the place we arranged to meet. She had invited me to a party with her community bike shop so I went there and… It was empty. I know it is partially my fault for not confirming with her and insisting on getting her number but comeon… Really? So obviously I was a little panicked at ending up in a city with almost no hostels with no place to stay at around 10:00pm. So I ended up spending 36€ for the ONLY hostel in the city. The price included a mandatory hosteling international card that I probably won’t use again … Overall I spent like 75 or more $ today but I really can’t keep count or it will stress me out. It was a stupid mistake but it won’t happen again.
Friday morning. I’ve officially been traveling for over a week and strangely getting used to wearing the same thing almost every day and developing a nice odor. Just kidding… Or am I? I had the day until my train to Bordeaux to wander around Nantes. Honestly my favorite part was the morning when I went to the Jardin des Plants. Seriously, if there is one thing France does right it’s their gardens! Each time I think I couldn’t see a cooler one I get to a new city and I am blown away. This one was beautiful but also whimsical, with plant sculptures including a giant sea serpent spanning like 3 different ponds and a sleeping duck. There was also a mini farm and a giant bird cafe with those beautiful parakeets that are lime green and turquoise. I could’ve spent all day there. But I didn’t, because I had a giant mechanical elephant to get to. I’ll let wiki explain: “In the warehouses of the former shipyards in Nantes, the Machines of the Isle is created by two artists, François Delarozière (La Machine) and Pierre Orefice (Manaus association), visualising a travel-through-time world at the crossroads of the “imaginary worlds” of Jules Verne and the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci.” So I saw a giant wooden elephant that can hold 50 people and shoot water out of its wooden trunk. So unique and awesome!
After that, I wandered around some of the neighborhoods for a little while, popping in and out of a few pretty plazas and churches before stopping for lunch and finally getting to taste a delicious galette. After lunch I made my way I the chateau of the dukes of Bretagne, an old castle that fulfilled all of the stereotypes, with torrents, large stone walls, and even a moat! Then I spent a while trying to find another park that looked promising on the map but in reality was a little disappointing. Finally it was time to grab my bag and make my way to the train station to catch my train to Bordeaux!
An aside- travel will never cease to amaze me with its ups and downs. I can be panicked and pissy one moment and absolutely in awe the next. But what really blows my mind is how it connects people. Especially while couch surfing and in hostels, you skip all the acquaintance bullshit and head right to a very interesting conversation. You can click with someone 100%, then get up, walk away, and know you will never see them again. It’s so strange and wonderful and sad.
Anyway, some pictures –