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Europe » France » Centre » Amboise
September 8th 2009
Published: September 30th 2017
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"Boy of Sarlat", watching over Place de la Liberte.
Geo: 47.4104, 0.981122

Some weird dreams last night, but a very good sleep, if you forget about the odd coughing fit. Up early with a quick run over to Sarlat's indoor market - the Dordogne is famous for outdoor markets, but bad timing meant that I was unable to catch any of them. Nothing special, but the indoor one was a suitable alternative, given that there really were no alternatives!

Back to the castle for breakfast - the place has a beautiful garden, and seems to make things taste even better. Chatting with Pierre-Henri, I mentioned that normally I don't bother with breakfast back home, maybe some yogurt or a muffin on the run. Pierre-Henri's response was "Non! You must take the time and enjoy your breakfast, this is very important!" I like how the French view life, and more importantly, food 😊 I told him how much I loved his garden and his place, and how I felt like I was sleeping in a castle.

Sarlat ... I love this place. It's one of those little gems that you don't expect to be so incredible; planning for the trip, I considered skipping it altogether because it sounded terribly boring. I didn't think
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Sarlat's indoor market - these giant steel doors weigh something like 2 tons each.
that floating down a river and lazily munching on breakfast in a garden could be so enjoyable. Though my sore arms from kayaking yesterday are one thing I don't enjoy 😞 Maybe I have to go back to University and study prehistoric cave paintings like Jamie - I can split my time between Oviedo, Santander, and Sarlat. That would be the life!

It's a long hike to the station, and it turned out to be a good thing that I had to get up early today to catch the train. Originally, I thought I'd take a midday train based on train schedules on the Internet, but at the station, the attendant seemed to think the early train was much better. The midday train would've meant hiking over 20 minutes with a steep uphill section at the end, in +30 deg C weather. Instead, I had a leisurely and cool stroll to the station.

Along the way, even though I was stuffed from breakfast, I picked up a pain au chocolat and a sandwich at a bakery, because I knew I'd get hungry during yet another long day of train travel. On to the train - I hate lazy people who won't get
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Some incredible looking pastries.
up to allow you to get to your seat. The guy was in the aisle and I needed to get to the window, but all he did was turn to the side to let me slide by. Dude, I'm not a little guy, and my butt is even bigger than normal after stuffing myself with foie gras the past two days! I managed to slide by but was disappointed that he didn't at least give me a Euro, because I practically had to lap dance him in order to get to my seat!

Luckily, the excellent lunch I picked up before boarding made me forget about the rude dumbass. The pain au chocolat was very flaky, though kind of dry. It was only ok, but any pain au chocolat still deserves to be savoured and enjoyed. Just like every Spanish senorita should be ogled by a creepy Canadian.

The sandwich was simple - ham, cheese, and tons of butter. Wicked baguette, as good as a baguette I once had in Monaco (see blog entry entitled "At least he didn't grab his crotch!"
http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/europe_2006/1154026320/tpod.html ) So crusty and chewy, it's the kind of baguette you have to bite into and shake your head
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Cassoulet in a jar!!! Where can I find this in Calgary???
side to side like a lion munching on a zebra, in order to rip off a chunk of it. So primal, so good!

Even the excessive amounts of butter couldn't ruin this meal, and it was possibly the best 4 euro lunch you could have. As Ben would say "Me like baguette!!!" A bit of those wonderful tomatoes from Sarlat would have taken this sandwich to a whole new stratosphere, but I guess tomatoes in a pre-made sandwich would only soggify it (and yes, I made that word up).

Creepiest moment of the trip - as the train whipped past the countryside, I noticed an endless field of sunflowers, all dead and dark, looking like their heads were bowed in mourning. A very foreboding sight that sent chills up my spine, and set off goosebumps all over my body. Kind of a scary feeling actually, and for the next several hours, I had a heavy heart and couldn't help but feel like something bad had happened, or was going to. The sight was almost like a demonic version of Van Gogh's "Sunflowers", where instead of being alive and beautiful, they were dying and decaying.

The actual train travel time today wasn't
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Giant blocks of foie gras.
that much, but with the stopovers associated with three changes, it took forever to get to Amboise. On one of the trains, I caught a reflection of myself in the window and noticed how shaggy my beard was getting, and how much I was starting to resemble a werewolf - after going a couple of days without, I am always hesitant about shaving. My electric razor has some pretty dull blades, so when it goes over longer facial hair, it feels like they're being ripped out one by one. Painful!

I was a bit late in arriving at Amboise - I didn't think it was possible for French trains to be late, as they are one of the most efficient train systems in Europe, along with Germany. After staying in a castle, I was now back to more simple accommodations at a hostel. It will be difficult to adjust, after being spoiled in luxury the past two nights. A worker brought some sheets to my room, and taught me a very valuable language lesson - that the French word for sheets sounds very sexy 😊

Off for a walk - not much was gong on so far in Amboise, so I
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That's why men always grab at them - for leverage!
popped over to an Internet cafe after a brief walk, and then back to the hostel for a quick little break, before heading out in search of dinner. On the way out, I noticed what looked like a choir or big singing group practicing in the hostel. Not that it was an interesting fact, I just saw it and thought I would mention it! On the way out of the parking lot, I was recruited to help push a car - it was overkill, they had two guys and three girls pushing and truth be told, I barely lifted a finger to help.

Amboise definitely doesn't have the charm of Sarlat, but it's kind of funny because during the planning stages, Amboise sounded like it might be a more interesting place than Sarlat. Guess that's half the fun of travel - discovering what your likes and dislikes are.

Wanting a light meal, I settled on "Le Cadran", a pizza place. Deciding on a restaurant tonight was another long, arduous decision - again, none of the menus here jumped out at me, many seemed to be too much food for how hungry I was, and the best menus were at restaurants that
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I never even noticed this place mat yesterday - too busy focusing on the yummy croissant and baguette, I guess.
had no more space on the terrace. A crappy meal was had.

I have had a few chances to practice my French the past few days, and I must say that it's been quite enjoyable - I wish I spoke more! Almost three years ago, I vowed to learn French, but never got around to it. With languages, I've found that there needs to be a good motivation in order to learn one - perhaps if I had a beautiful French mademoiselle to practice with ...

Some aimless wandering around town led me to another Italian place, where I perused the menu for future reference - a couple of what I think were German tourists approached and warned me not to eat there, because it was apparently terrible. I asked where was a place they would recommend, and they told me "The Italian place on the pedestrian street is very good." - that would be "Le Cadran", where I just had a soggy, crappy mess of a pizza! If they considered that place to be good ... how horrific was this Italian place I was standing at???



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The bread was different today, not the bigger baguette, but thinner, and much chewier and softer. Also very good like yesterday's, I couldn't decide which I liked more.
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I paid 45 euros a night, which seems a bit pricey for a single backpacker, but is actually good value considering the quality of accommodation. The price for a single or double is the same, and I think it's only another 8 euro for each additional person. So four could potentially stay for 61 euros a night.
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Chilling on the train, listening to music.
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This is supposed to be a sign telling you to turn your cell phone ringer off. Is it just me, or does it look like a sleeping cartoon condom, with the reservoir offset to the side of its head?
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While traveling, I sometimes go a week without shaving, and end up looking like this. I also sometimes look like this during full moons.
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Amboise.
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The Loire river.
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Wine in a plastic bottle - this can't be any good! Sacrilege!!!
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More sacrilege!!! Pre-packaged pains au chocolat??!!!??? How could you????!?!?!?!!!
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A very crunchy nectarine - it actually tasted pretty good, aside from the texture. I would've gone for a peach, but the store had a pretty suspect selection of fruit.
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More sacrilege!!! Boulangeries should never be allowed to close!!!
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Luckily, I found another one that was open and had a pastry called "L'etoile" (the star). It was chocolate rich chocolate set atop a layer of chocolate cake, then all covered in a chocolaty coating. It was good at first, but quickly became much too sweet. People were actually gawking at me as I ate it while wandering down the street - it did look pretty incredible. Or maybe they just hadn't ever before seen a werewolf eating a chocolaty pastry.
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Mmm ... a Vietnamese sub would hit the spot ...
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Amboise's chateau.


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