Donkey Crossing

Welcome to Donkey Crossing! Donkey Crossing is an on-line account of one Limey and one Yank living one Dream. From September 2006 until the end of 2007, we plan to visit friends and family on five continents and immerse ourselves into various cultures, natural phenomena and ways of life. We hope you enjoy our tales and visit often! Cheers, Jason and Rachel Napoli

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Donkey Crossing's European Vacation

Greetings to all Donkey Crossing fans from sunny Spain! We've been in Europe for nearly a month now and are excited to share our experiences with you. Sorry its been so long. Surprisingly, public high-speed internet access is easier to come by in the furthest corners of Africa than it is in Europe. Besides, our time has been spent visiting friends and family, consuming mass amounts of fine French and Spanish delicacies and exploring the natural wonders of France and Spain. We had been anxiously awaiting our arrival to Europe during our final week in Africa and were extremely excited to be reunited with Rachel's parents (Helen and Oz) and family friends (Kate and Roger Woods) in the beautiful, medieval village of Vezenobres, France. Our first day with Rachel's parents was also our fifth wedding anniversary!

We spent many hours walking the narrow lanes and green surroundings of the gorgeous village of Vezenobres. Oz, Helen, Roger and Kate pause for a minute as we explore the beauty of Vezenobres. Kate(Rachel's godmother) and Roger were extremely generous and welcoming hosts. We had a great time catching up over delicious food, pleasant drives and walks and the odd bottle of wine.

Here we are taking time in one of Vezenobres' excellent outdoor cafes. Many hours can fly by at European cafes in such picturesque settings.

A major focus during our time in Europe has been on the amazing culinary wonders. The French certainly know how to feed themselves. Whether it was wandering through a local outdoor market or a gigantic "supermarche", we were amazed by the quality, variety and care that is put into the French diet.

Helen, Rachel and Kate take a moment to smile between glasses of rosé and preparing gigantic prawns.

Ahhh, the vines...its all about the vines in the Languedoc region of France. Visiting in Spring gave us a chance to see the vines at an early stage and has encouraged us to see the progress of the vines later in the season during a future visit.

One of our first excursions around the region was to the Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct and one of the most visited sights in France. Although it was a rainy day, we had a great drive through the countryside and a wonderful lunch just beneath the impressive structure. I quickly recalled I had visited the same location 14 years prior on my bicycle tour through Europe.

Other major highlights during our time with Helen and Oz was an evening horseback ride through the vineyards and an excellent hike through the Cevennes Mountains. Above is a shot of Rachel and Helen gearing up for their ponies!

Rachel, Oz, Helen and I stop for a moment somewhere in the middle of the Cevennes Mountains.

The fresh, crisp air of the Cevennes was a very welcome change from the respiratory challenges we faced in Africa.

Oz takes a moment after our picnic lunch to look for the old chateau we were told was up on a random mountain. He never found the chateau, but Oz always enjoys utilizing his "bins" nonetheless.

Between walks, talks and meals we all managed a couple fierce battles on the ping-pong table.

One of the final culinary pleasures we encountered in France was the "oyster and mussels lady" in the parking lot of the local shop. She is expected every Sunday morning with her large trays of the fresh shellfish. We walked away with a kilo of both and enjoyed a delicious lunch of freshly shucked oysters and tasty "moules frites". It was very yummy and I managed to slice myself only twice during my first oyster shucking experience.

Lunch is the garden.

We will never forget our time with Helen, Oz, Kate and Roger in Vezenobres. It was an excellent opportunity to catch up with family, recharge our batteries after three intense months in Africa and experience life in a small, French village. We know we'll return one day to visit with Kate and Roger in their beautiful home and, of course, the oyster lady on a Sunday morning.


Next stop: Spain. Stay tuned to hear about our amazing week in Barcelona, followed by our exciting experience of renting a car and exploring the Spanish Pyrenees Mountains!

I anxiously await our Barcelona bound train from Perpignan, France.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hooray for France and Spain! It looks like you guys are having a wonderful time. Can't wait to read the next installment.


8:09 AM  

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