March 31, 2010
The past two years, I have used my Spring Breaks to relax, spend a few days visiting friends at school and hanging out with the family. However this year, my parents decided to take my brother and I for one last family vacation. We aren't beach people, so our vacations are usually pretty jam-packed with visiting friends, family and tourist spots. Fortunately for us, my Great Aunt Kay has been living in France for the past 40 years, making a great vacation spot.
Kay lives in southern France in the Pyrenees Mountains. Memories from my youth involve the crazy car rides up and down the mountainside, weeding and picking vegetables from her extensive garden, visiting the many chateaux in the area and eating lots of French food/bread. These same things as well as several exciting events and trips marked this visit.
On St. Patrick's Day, we traveled the hour south to Andorra, an often forgotten country. Everything in Andorra is tax-free, so many French and Spanish citizens travel there for cheap gas, alcohol and technological products. However, from what I saw of Andorra, there is so much more to the city than these items! We drove through ski resorts, small towns and stopped at roadside Roman ruins.
Over the weekend, we traveled to the town of Limoux and then to the seaside village of La Franqui. The ten Sundays before Easter, Limoux throws a Carnivale in its center square. A troupe of people dress from head to toe in costume, parade around the square and stop in each bar along the way. Everyone cheers, takes pictures and throws confetti. You can imagine by the end of the day that the festivities have the tendency to get pretty rowdy. However after witnessing one parade around the square, we didn't wait for the next one. Instead, we headed east, towards the Mediterranean Sea to Kay's house in La Franqui. While the weather was a little uncooperative, we enjoyed walking along the beach and making friends with one particularly nice local business owner.
On the way back from La Franqui, we stopped in Maury, a town known for its wines and apéritifs. We sampled several good wines and then packed up and headed back home.
The last couple of days were spent at Kay's. We weeded in the garden, sat out on the terrace, attempted to run (mountain running involves running up the mountain then running back down — no flat!) and venturing into the nearby town of Foix for groceries and other essentials.
While this vacation seems so jam-packed with activities, I have rarely come home from a vacation feeling more relaxed. Maybe it's the mountain air or the good food, but whatever it is — I am ready to tackle the rest of the spring semester!