Friday, February 22, 2013

The Village Of Vers Pont Du Gard

This is a belated post from last summer. I was travelling so frequently, I fell into the trap of procrastinating and almost never posted about this trip. But a week ago I was listening to Thievery Corporation Americka. It brought back memories when all I had to do was enjoy, whatever it was, wherever in the world.

 So to begin my story, I was scouring for affordable and lesser-travelled places on the Ryanair website. I made the decision to fly to Nimes because I wanted to practice speaking French and see the Pont Du Gard, an Roman aqueduct in the countryside. 

I did my research, found accommodation and had a loose plan. Booked a BnB in a remote area, Vers Pont Du Gard. I figured why stay in a city hostel when I could enjoy the countryside. There was just the hard part-trying to figure out how to get there. 

All I could find was a bus route from Nimes train station. I printed off whatever I thought was helpful and hoped for the best. Someone on the internet said to catch the B21 bus but Vers Pont Du Gard was'nt even a stop on the timetable. I remember lying in bed the night before, trying to plot and imagine somehow getting to my BnB in the sticks of France.

No one seemed to speak English in Nimes, except for a nice guy at the tourist info center. He reassured me that B21 was the right bus. Turns out my stop was not Vers Pont Du Gard, it was Platanes which does'nt exist in Googlemaps. 

I pointed the stop on the timetable to the bus driver. He merely nodded but little did I know, he was'nt driving the whole route. I guess with the language barrier we were both helpless. I sat diligently in front of the bus, marking off each stop and watched lovely villages go by. Suddenly we pulled over and everyone had to get out.

An English ex-pat explained that they had to another bus that was serving the rest of the route. The new driver was rough looking, not in a uniform but a white stubbies singlet, shorts and tattoos galore. 

I sensed Platanes was nearby when we were winding around narrow village streets. I pushed the button and got off the bus, praying that I did the right thing because the next one wasn't for six hours.

There was no one around and the village was silent. Naturally I got lost, standing puzzled in front of street signs. But in this sleepy village, it did'nt take too long to find my BnB, Maison de Martin. It was hidden behind huge walls and a big wooden door with an old bell. And after being greeted by my host, I entered and saw this. 

How cool is this convertible! A Citroen Deux Chauveax which has been around since the 1930s. It's iconic as the VW beetle and they only stopped making these in 1990.


My host Martin spoke French with an American accent. His partner Monique is French and they spend their summers in Vers Pont Du Gard.

The BnB was old but well maintained. There was a gorgeous open courtyard where you can sit and enjoy the sunshine.

I set down my things and went to the neighbourhood store to buy provisions. While browsing, I heard a customer come in and say loudly in an exaggerated English accent: "BON-JOUR!!!" There was an immediate hush and I could tell the shop keeper had silently warned the customer (who must have been a friend imitating an English tourist) that I might have been offended. It was a small amusement!  

I did a little exploring and had lunch at the bistro recommended by Martin. The village was historical and quaint. On weekends the town is practically closed. Even the neighnourhood closes after lunch time and reopens in the evening for a few hours. 

The streets are windy and narrow and residences are concealed by high walls adjoining the street. From the street, you would'nt know what's behind them. 

Monique buys fresh fruit from the neighbours across the street and she took me across to have a look. The neighbours sell produce a few hours a day to the public. 

I was not expecting to see a mini orchard when we walked in! 

So behind their walls was was a family house with lots of fruit trees. All produce was home grown, *super* local and fresh. I bought a bag of fat juicy cherries for only 3 Euros. And ate them pretty quick.


I was sitting in the courtyard, sunning my legs and enjoying the serenity. Suddenly I heard a mouse. Atleast I thought I did. There was squeaking and when I looked down, I saw this kitten meowing at me. Mega cuteness! 

This is his brother. He had an endearing gesture where he'd place a paw on your chest and look earnestly into your eyes.

Could you tell he one was my favorite?

Monique talked to the kittens in French and sang merrily in French as she was doing chores. I'd close my eyes, feel the sun on my skin and engrave these peaceful moments into my memory.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Being In A Film, Chinese New Year and February Snow

I was excited for an ex-colleague who gave up banking to be a film director. He invited me to what I mistakenly thought was his film screening. All I recalled was "there will be plenty of food and wine" although I thought it was weird how it was 4 hours long. Grant and I turned up at a church in Warwick Avenue and realised there was a filmset, we were extras and they were filming! 

We had to be part of a church congregation. Genuflect the bishop and on a later take, pretend to be drunk and high. It was fun to be amateur actors however there were unpredictable downtimes.

As promised there were plenty of edible perks. My friend outlayed an excellent spread of nibblies and sponsor Black Vanilla Cupcakes brought in these delightful mini red velvet cupcakes. They were utterly cute and delicious!

It's Chinese New Year and my friends and I had a feast to celebrate. On Saturday night I spent an hour chatting to family back in Oz. And I got to see Lillee on Skype! She's grown, more than adorable as ever.

On Sunday night, it was so cold it snowed. Lucky how I ran out of eggs and had to go out to buy some. Otherwise I would have never realised. 

It's slushy on the ground, but at this rate there will be full cover in the morning.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Last Day In Sydney

My aunt picked me and Mum up for the airport and came extra early. Instead of us going to yum cha for lunch, I wanted to bring yum cha to my sister's house. So we bought takeaway dim sum just so I could spend one more time with Lillee. Bless her little mittens. Just want to bite her chubby cheeks and protect her from the big bad world at the same time.

My flight from Sydney to Singapore was quiet. I got all of this.

When I got back to London, there was a sad looking snowman outside my building. At 8am, the sun was just rising. And as I usually do, I get homesick. At least I'll always know where my real home is...