Okay people, so I know I’ve been M.I.A for the past week or so but that was because I had no computer. Why did I have no computer you may ask? Because I was off galavanting around various parts of Brittany and the Loire Valley with my dear father. If you guessed that a giant bird flew in and ate my computer you’re sadly mistaken. But really, my week of vacances (vacation) was pretty great. First of all, my dad came two days after my birthday! So that automatically makes everything better. He treated me to a glass of wine that night at dinner. We had Medoc (I believe that’s how it’s spelled. It’s a red wine.) It wasn’t bad. I think I’m discovering that I prefer the drier wines as opposed to the sweeter ones. We also had a Chardonnay a few days later that I liked pretty well too. Mom wasn’t too happy when she heard Dad had treated me to wine for my birthday (shh…she doesn’t know about the Chardonnay or the wine at the conference).
Dad came in Saturday afternoon so we didn’t really do much that day. We checked into the hotel, bought me a suitcase to replace the rolling duffel I brought (I found out in Paris that a rolling duffel with no handle that comes out wasn’t my best plan.), and had dinner. Sunday we did some sightseeing in Angers. Unfortunately, there will be no pictures from this part of the trip as my camera was out of batteries and nothing was open. We spent the day visiting the Chateau d’Angers (did i forget to mention that Angers has its own chateau?) and exploring the town. The Chateau was nice. It had a lot more foliage inside the walls than I expected. Since the chateau is next to le Maine (that’s the name of the river), the view from the one side is pretty killer. I think I spotted 8 church steeples across the river. But by far the most impressive thing are the tapestries. These things are absolutely ancient. Not all of them are on display (there’s about 70 total I think) but they all date back to the 1300s or so. Yeah. I think they’re in what used to be the kitchens according to a map of the chateau but that could be wrong. It’s a great,long hallway and the tapestries are in two rows going the length of the hall. Before entering though there’s a little viewing area with a video on loop that talks about the tapestries and some of the history behind them. There’s two screens playing the same video. The main screen speaks in French but has English subtitles while the second video has subtitles in french and in the corner is a person signing. I thought that was pretty cool. The hall itself it fairly dimly lit–to help preserve the tapestries I’d imagine since they’re just hanging there and not behind glass or anything like they would be in the U.S.
Monday we spent wandering around the little downtown shop area of Angers. I’ve only been to that part of town two or three times so I didn’t know where everything was so we got a little lost at one point but it wasn’t bad. We decided to go across the river to the Musee Jean Lucrat where the modern tapestries are housed. These tapestries are modern (obviously) but are based on or inpsired by the old ones at the chateau. Ideally you’re supposed to see the old ones first but I saw the modern ones first because we got to see them last month at the Mayor’s Reception. Sadly, the musee wasn’t open on Mondays. But Dad and I didn’t realize that until after we’d walked all the way there, saw it wasn’t open, walked back up the road to a little cafe for lunch, and then walked back at 2pm. Apparently we both need to work on our reading skills. That or our observation skills.
Tuesday was spent in Le Mans. I was pretty stoked to go. Mainly because the nuns that helped found my school in the States were from Le Mans. And it’s pronounced Le-Mon, NOT Le MAN-s. That’s a personal pet peeve of mine because girls at school will say mans (like man’s) and it’s so wrong. One of the dorms on campus is called Le Mans. The first floor is also where some of the administrative offices are. Now, back to the real Le Mans. It took us a while to find the office de tourisme because there didn’t seem to be hardly any signs pointing you in the right direction and the people we asked at the train station seemed surprised to hear that there was one in their town? I’m not sure. One lady told us it was a ways away and that we’d basically leave the station and just head straight. Which we did. Didn’t help us find the office but led us straight to Notre-Dame de la Couture. That place was nice. But it can’t top Cathedrale Saint Julien. That one is impresssssive. Seriously.
See what I mean? And that’s the back of the church. Course, it’s the most impressive part of the outside but the inside’s pretty amazing too. The rest of our time in Le Mans was spent walking around the old city and seeing the remnants of the roman wall and in museums. We went to two different museums. The musee d’archologie and the tesse musee I believe. They were both pretty cool. The second one had an Egyptian exhibit that was made to look just like the tombe de la reine Nofretari (tomb of Queen Nefretari).
Wednesday Dad and I traveled to Roscoff where we spent the rest of the week. I came back on Saturday and Dad left Sunday with everyone else after the conference was over. He flew out of Paris on Monday. It was interesting. I got to meet some of Dad’s colleagues/friends that he’s known for years now. It wasn’t a huge meeting but there were probably 100 or so people attending the conference total. I met people from Australia, Belgium, England, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, and the Netherlands. Dad doesn’t really talk much about work at home and if you asked Jared or me about it we could tell you his position and that he spends a lot of time reading and writing grants, so it was really interesting for me to see Dad so in his element. I can’t say that I understood all of the conversations but I could follow most of them. For anyone who doesn’t know my dad, he is a geneticist and is the Director of Research and Developpment at the Greenwood Genetic Center. Now, that probably doesn’t mean much to the average human being but it’s important. Oddly enough, I got the impression in my genetics class senior year of high school that the Genetic Center is better known worldwide than it is in the state of South Carolina. That seems odd to me but then again I’ve grown up knowing about it. But so when he and some of the others at the conference got going it was lots of big words and word-number combinations that are the names of different genes. Something else I found interesting (and slightly amusing for me) was when people would recall different meetings. It was “were you at Brazil when so-and-so…” or “yeah, at the Berlin meeting…” etc. And sometimes the meetings they were referring to were from 2003 or 2005 so it wasn’t necessarily recent. Why did I find this amusing you ask? Because it reminded me of the Kathy Reichs books that I like so much. In them, whenever Brennan talks with a colleague on the phone or in person Reichs always gives them an introduction and it or the dialogue between the characters is similiar.
So I ate breakfast and dinner with Dad and the others from the meeting but what did I do with myself during the day? I know this is the burning question on everyone’s mind. Well, rest easy, I’m about to answer that. I went sightseeing! Feel better now? No one’s brain is fried from the suspense? Good. Roscoff isn’t really that big but it was nice for me because I was only there for two full days. It seems like it’s mostly retired people in town but that maybe because school is in session. I got to see the sunrise. Very pretty. It was cold but it was worth it and it was tranquil. I found a nice little spot to watch from and took pictures.
There was also an exotic garden that I went to. It was nice but it took almost an hour walking to get there. And then I had to walk back. And the last little stretch before you get to the turnoff for the garden is not that safe. It’s along a decently busy road but there’s no sidewalks so I was walking where the ditch would’ve been. I don’t advice doing that with kids. Of course, I’m sure there was probably a better or more direct way to get there but I followed the signs so… But the garden itself was pretty. Not all the flowers were in bloom (obviously) and there were a lot of cacti and other plants from Mexico and South Africa.
Saturday, as you know because I mentioned it earlier, I traveled by train back to Angers. It was an enjoyable week off with my dad. I was really happy to get to see him. It was like having a little piece of home here for a while, which, it basically was. He said he was proud of me for doing this. Studying abroad and everything. I didn’t know how to respond. I’ve never been good at taking compliments. But it is nice to know that I make my parents proud.