Good News! It looks like we will have limited internet access here in the south so we're going to attempt to keep the daily updates, though I will now be posting them in the morning/afternoon about the previous day rather than each night.
We woke up early on Saturday, packed up all of our belongings, and crammed ourselves into the world's tiniest elevator, the elevator we barely fit into without any luggage. We checked out of the hotel then headed across the street to the Rodin museum to kill some time before our train left for the south of France.
The Rodin museum was one of the least expensive places we visited in Paris. For about the cost of a bottle of water each (6 Euros) we both got admittance to the museum and garden.
For just six Euros, you too can mock Rodin's work for no good reason!
I think this piece is called: Où est Mon Tondeuse à Gazon?
We even grabbed a quick little lunch at the museum. In America when you go to a site like this, you get some of the worst food imaginable. I use the Statue of Liberty's cafeteria on Liberty Island as an prime example of this: It's the worst fast-food burger knockoff you can think of. And it's absolutely disgusting. Greasy burgers in waxy buns, wrapped in paper and shoved into an angled chute for some unfortunate tourist hungry enough and unlucky enough to purchase it.
In France, even the food at the museum cafe is delicious. Jen got a wonderfully presented green tomato salad and tart, and I got a ham and emmentaler sandwich on a baguette along with a Yoplait yogurt which was was served in a little clay jar. It's like the plane didn't take us to Paris, it took us to some alternate dimension. And I'm not looking forward to that nasty plane taking us back at all.
After our lunch at the museum we headed back to the hotel to grab our bags and catch a taxi to Gare de Lyon for our train to Valence. Our luggage was remarkably heavy and, of course, we were in the seventeenth (of eighteen) car of the train. There we attempted to sleep despite the hiss of the door by our heads opening and closing. It wouldn't have been quite as bad if some crummy little French kids didn't keep fumbling with the door, unable to press the extremely difficult button. That meant that I had to keep reaching over to let the little punks into and out of the car.
As we departed the train it was like walking through some sort of cigarette smoking convention. There were hundreds of people outside the train smoking during the station stop, before they got onto the train, after they'd left the train, etc. There were mothers (well, one mother at least) with a baby in one hand, a cigarette in the other and one foot in and one foot out of the train. I'd wager that if the train started taking off they would have ditched the baby for one last drag of their cigarettes.
We picked up our car, a Corsa, at Europcar and began the stressful drive to our residence. I've never driven in a European country before, I rarely drive a standard, the signs were all in a different language and being a European car it of course has to have some new cutesy way of shifting into reverse. This is something I am used to from driving the cars of my Volkswagen enthusiast cousin, Jeff. However, it seems that every European car likes to come up with some new dopey way to put the car into reverse. I tried pushing down on the stick like in a Volkswagen. No dice. I tried pushing it really hard to the left. No dice. Finally I realized there was a goofy little trigger on the far side of the stick, out of sight, that when you pushed it in it allowed you to push the stick all the way left so that you could put it in reverse.
On the drive we went through some beautiful, scenic country, with the exception of an uglyish nuclear power plant with a painting of a strange child on one of the smokestacks.
We had no idea where our place was. I asked Jen for the address but apparently it didn't really have one. She suggested that we just drive to the town and that if we wandered around we'd probably stumble upon it. I was annoyed by this "plan" which is funny because this is like the reverse of every argument we've had like this in the past. However, Jen's plan worked flawlessly and we did stumble upon the place very easily. I hope this is a lesson to Jen that my poorly thought-out plans often result in smashing success as well.
After we arrived and I got a chance to test my standard-driving ability by starting my car from a standstill on the steepest road I've ever encountered, we settled into our new apartment and prepared for dinner. It is both exciting and sad because this apartment is so much larger and nicer than the one that we actually live in back home.
We met up with Ross and Gregg who made a beautiful dinner that we started with olives, nuts, pastis (for me, Jen hates it -- almost as much as I hate cucumbers), and rosé. I made it through two glasses of the pastis before I realized it was 90 proof. After not eating all day, it caught up with me plenty quick.
We had a wonderful roasted red pepper salad followed by a delicious stewed rabbit with pastis, a cheese course and then finished it off with a peach tart.
After that we got to sleep in our beautiful and spacious apartment. We actually have two adjoining apartments, connected into a sort of a suite, because the owners of this fantastic place were kind enough to give us a second apartment because it's our honeymoon! How lucky are we? It's completely unnecessary and absolutely incredible! More on our great apartments later. Spoiler: One of them has a giant tub in the middle of the living room!