Animal Farm

Just wanted to share more photos of the animals with you all. There are so many here and I am having fun taking their portraits. Not all of the animals are featured here. There was a lamb born today (and more on the way) and a few bunnies born last week, so expect  photos of the little ones soon… so sweet! Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Valentine’s in Auch

Image

Our free day happened to fall on Valentine’s Day and after much research and help from our hosts we decided to make a 1 hour journey by bus to the city of Auch (pronounced like, Osh). We arrived early in the morning and walked right through the market on our way up the hill, into the older part of the city.

Image

Image

We started with a cappuccino for each of us. I should note, I think it’s sort of funny that a “cappuccino” in this region consists of a shot of espresso, a huge swirl of whipped cream and chocolate powder generously sprinkled on top. It’s not a cappuccino, or what I had in mind, but who can say no to that? The coffee truck is a little social center and you can get an espresso drink, or buy bulk coffee or tea. The seller was chatting with us and told just about every customer we were visiting from California and that got everyone buzzing and asking us questions…

Image

Image

We picked up snacks for later. Olives, those with the oranges and pimentos, so delicious! Dried strawberries (like candy!), dried apricots, a mix of nuts and dried fruits, 2 Turkish delights and a baguette… got a little carried away with the sweet stuff, but hey, it’s Valentine’s day!

Image

Up the hill from the market the architecture turns older and the rain starts…

Image

Image

Image

We enter Cathedrale Sainte-Marie and admire the beautiful stained glass, the organs (there are 2) and the silence. It is colder inside the cathedral than outside, we can see our breath!

Image

Image

Image

Image

Auch is split by a river and on the hill side there are little alleyways and steep staircases cutting through the main streets and houses. We wander through many of the streets, lightly following a tour path…

Image

We make our way down to the river and follow the path laid along its banks. We meet friendly people walking dogs and take photos of the cool homes along the river. The one below has an old tower and some great wooden pathways.

Image

Image

We walk along the river, eventually reaching a campground. We turn back towards the city and find a steep street to walk up… halfway up there is bench a perfect place to stop and enjoy the snacks from the market.

Image

Image

Some great shops we passed…

Image

Image

Image

Image

After more wandering we find a sweet cafe and stop in…

Image

Image

Back along the riverbank we go the opposite direction and follow the path past more homes, bridges and parks…

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

As night approaches we walk back to the bus station to catch the 6:30 bus back to Mirande, which is the closest bus stop to where we are staying, our hostess Louisa will be picking us up there.

We wait, and wait, and wait for the bus and then we realize something must be wrong. Turns out we were actually supposed to take the bus to Tarbes, which goes through Mirande… and that bus has now left and was the last one of the day. We feel awful about the thought of Louisa driving all the way to Mirande only to see our bus come and go. She’s a mom, we know she is going to be worried! We had passed a McDonalds on the way to the bus stop and know they have free wifi so we hightail it back to McDo so we can open my email where her cell number is and find a pay phone. Bless Mickey D’s for their free, no password needed, no purchase required wifi and nothing more! We send Louisa a message explaining what happened, apologizing profusely, and letting her know we will be getting a hotel for the night.

We passed a hotel on the way from the bus station and stop in to check the price and then across the street to another hotel to compare. The cheaper hotel apparently doesn’t have a bathroom, or something like that, um we couldn’t really get a straight answer, so to speak and we were getting no mercy from the hostess, we tried to mime, we tried our best French, but just couldn’t find the words. Obviously there must have been bathrooms, in the hall at least, which we tried to explain we were fine with! But for all our efforts she just kept shaking her head no, giving a curt “No!” to everything we said or mimed. Eventually she tired of our games and simply pointed across the street, to the more expensive hotel. Ah, ok we get it. Er, Merci?

So we go to the hotel across the street, it’s called Nuit Du Shanghai. It’s above a Chinese food restaurant, we are assured there are bathrooms. The room is actually pretty nice and very clean, not only a toilet but also a shower and WiFI too! I check my email and Louisa has replied telling us she was very concerned, glad we are ok, and to enjoy our impromptu romantic evening, she even gives us the bus schedule and assures us she will pick us up in Mirande in the morning. Bless her!

Now we can relax, we watch French tv for a while before going downstairs for a romantic dinner in the Chinese restaurant. It’s well known, apparently, Chinese food in France is a joke. But since we are playing our naive parts so perfectly this evening we are thinking, Chinese food, right downstairs, how convenient! And, hey we were not the only one’s in the restaurant! Terrible, awful food, plus the waiter hated us, he was so disappointed with our orders, that when he brought the food out, he slammed our trays down (yeah, our food came out on trays people! Bad.) and never came back. Yikes! So, Auch after dark gets a little bit testy with the tourists eh? Don’t worry guy, right after our nougat and canned lychees in syrup it’s right to bed!

Back upstairs, my phone is dead, we have no toothbrushes or pjs’s, we are so very stranded, but we have a bed, and it is actually pretty comfortable, heyy! Most importantly we have each other and we are still having a good time! It really sounds like I am complaining but I am sharing this story because it was such a strange and funny night, I feel obligated to share! I am smiling as I write this and we were laughing through the whole ordeal. It was one of those times where everything keeps going wrong and you can’t help but laugh, knowing it is shaping up to be a great story. This is what life, love, travel is all about, being together, experiencing the unexpected wholeheartedly and gathering the stories that grow. It’s my most memorable Valentine’s day ever!

Much love from us!!

xoxo,

Sierra

Farm Life at Enjouanisson

Our hostess Louisa met us in the village of Mirande after our 7 hour train ride to Tarbes followed by a 40 minute bus ride through the countryside, stopping at every cute town along the way as the light of day gave away to winding roads without streetlights.

Louisa was waiting for us and we hopped right into her car to go to the farm, about 30 minutes away. We pass through one small village, Montesquiou. We arrive at the farm and we are greeted by the 3 dogs Hercule, Happy and Hobo. You enter the big farmhouse through a hobbit door, you have to duck to go through and it opens up to a big hall where 2 sweet puppies sleep and then down the hall to the kitchen where there is a big pot of duck stew waiting for us.

We visit with our hosts Louisa and Stewart, and meet the children, Harmonie, 7 is very shy at first and hides behind her mom, but warms up when she remembers she has made cupcakes for our arrival and makes blue frosting for them and then piles on the sprinkles! Phoenix is 6 and he immediately runs to John when we come in, fast friends.

Louisa and Stewart tell us about the farm, the history of the house, their lives before farming and explain some of the work we will be doing over the next couple of weeks. We are exhausted from the trip and John has had a headache all day so we are happy to see our room after dinner and settle in for sleep early since we will be up for work at 7:30.

DSC_0404

Tuesday:

We start when it is still dark out, it’s cold and drizzly too. We go to the grain barn and get buckets for the pigs, we carry buckets of the food to the 4 different pig enclosures. There are piglets, teenager pigs, the “thugs” adult male pigs, and the sows the adult female pigs they are the biggest of all, and are really huge!

We go around feeding them all, Stewart jumps in the enclosure to feed them since they really run over and start snorting and squealing for food right away. There isn’t any real danger from the little guys or the adult female pigs, but the thugs can be rough and possibly dangerous. All of the enclosures are surrounded by low electric wire set at a pretty high voltage so we are warned about that right away. Stewart just jumps right over it and into the mud, sinking in past his ankles and speaking affectionately to all the pigs.

Image

Image

After the pigs it’s over to the rabbits. They are in the “rabbit high-rises” as the ground is too cold and wet for them to be in the grass where they normally hang out during the warmer months, hopping around and nibbling on the greens.

They are really sweet happy guys and they come right up when we are feeding so we can give them all a pat, so super soft and cute!! Each one gets fresh food and water and clean straw to burrow under and nibble on. There are adult rabbits, a few teen bunnies and about 7 babies!

Image

Image

Next we go over to the chicken coop where the roosters have been making noise for hours already. It’s a really big area with 2 nesting rooms, and lot’s of space to move around under cover of a roof. During the day the chickens roam freely throughout part of the garden and an area with a pond, lots of ducks and a goose. The chickens are really fun and kinda crazy. You can figure out there is a sort of hierarchy going on in the hen house and the girls actually argue over the best nesting boxes, they all look the same to me… There are quite a lot of really beautiful chickens and roosters especially. There are lot’s of ducks, about 4 different kinds and they quack around, swim in the pond and mess with the chickens. There is one goose, he’s pretty cute and he honks a lot! He doesn’t have a name yet, so naturally, I call him “Honks”.

Image

Image

After all the fun with the birds we go across and down the road towards the sheep, we pass the donkeys along the way, Ned and Polo (note: In France it is illegal to name an animal Napoleon, so Polo it is!)

Image

We go up to the sheep and they come running for their food, all except one that is… Stewart calls for him “Randy!” he doesn’t move so he then jumps in the enclosure and runs down the hill towards Randy and stands next to him, lifts his head up, nothing. Poor Randy is gone, Stewart takes a moment beside him and John and I bow our heads. Stewart comes up and explains Randy was in his prime, he was their best ram and the first animal born on the farm. He also tells us, sheep can die quick and without explanation. There is no sign of why Randy has passed, which I imagine is very frustrating. It’s a tough loss for sure.

IMG_5105

DSC_0383

All that, and we haven’t even had breakfast yet. We go in for some food and tea and then it’s back out to the grain barn to mill more grain. This past summer the family grew fields of grain for their feed, they store it in a big silo and they have a mill that we use every couple of days to prepare the grain for the pigs, sheep, rabbits and chickens. Some animals feed is supplemented by beans or chicken feed but it’s pretty cool that they supply their own grain for the animals when they can’t graze due to cold weather. While the grain grinds we fill the truck bed and trailer with wood and then stack it near the furnace.

DSC_0403

After Louisa has taken the kids to school, Stewart goes indoors to work, he works from home. John and I go up to the chicken coop to muck out the hen houses with Louisa. It’s tough, smelly work, but it’s pretty satisfying to lay down clean straw for the chickens. We muck until 12:30 and then go in for lunch.

The work day is done and we sit down for a hot meal! John is feeling sick and has had a headache since our train ride so he goes up and sleeps the rest of the day while I play in the sunny kitchen with 2 puppies, I write the post about Paris and organize our travel photos, catch up on facebook etc.! I visit with the hosts and the kids and we have a great dinner together. I think I went to bed earlier than the kids that night, I was soooo tired!

DSC_0357

Wednesday:

John is just too sick to get out of bed this morning, he has a terrible headache, he’s freezing but has a fever and is dizzy all the bad stuff! My poor guy, I insist he stays in and our hosts are very understanding. I follow Stewart around with the buckets, feeling like a little kid as we work in the rain, me in a borrowed large waxed canvas coat, big work gloves and rain boots. Sloshing around carrying these heavy buckets, all out of sorts trying to remember everything I had learned from the day before and worrying about John the whole time… plus it’s early and I haven’t had coffee…

I must have looked really silly, but whatever, I carried on, trying to be helpful and not be in the way. I feel more comfortable when I am sent to feed the rabbits and I can pet them and baby talk them! When Louisa comes out to help she explains we will hold off feeding the birds as we will need to catch some of them for “the pot”, I’m super nervous about this task, I expected it might happen, but I didn’t think it would happen on our second day!

Ok, I love to eat chicken, and that duck soup we had for dinner was amazing, but those animals are right over there, living, hanging out with other ducks and chickens and we will somehow get them from that point to looking like they do when I buy one at the market, in the next couple of hours? I know this is going to be a big step for me! I love food and it is important to me to know where my food comes from, but this is the next level!

Warning!! Graphic content ahead, not that graphic, no photos or anything, just in-detail explanation…  if you are uncomfortable with it just scroll down and keep on reading after the italics to hear more about our first days on the farm! 

Louisa and Stewart explain we will be catching the ducks first, 4 of them and the hosts point them out to me. We need to guide them into a corner and then they will catch them and we will take them out of the area as quick and calm as possible. We want them and the other animals to stay calm. As we approach, it’s as if all the animals know which ones are about to go, the ones that are not being chosen waddle off and the 4 we have our sights on begin to go towards the corner, my emotions are reaching out to them, it almost looks as if they are saying goodbye to each other as they open their beaks for a quack but no sound is made, then, ok I may be crazy, but it looks like they are kissing each other goodbye! But no time to get emotional, on the count of 3, 2, 1… Louisa and Stewart each catch one, the other two escape and jump into the pond. In my head I am thinking “Yes!! Fly away my friends, quick! Go while you can!!” but, I know we will still need to catch them.

We take the 2 on duck death row out and put them in the barn, then back up to the coop. Stewart and Louisa go into one of the hen houses where they have the 3 roosters waiting, the door is closed and I hear so much commotion from the chickens, flapping and crowing and then they emerge with the 3 roosters. They are taken to the barn and then we go back up for the ducks. They are swimming around in the pond, looking nervous, surrounded by the other smaller ducks, trying to blend in I suppose… then it’s like they give up and they come up to the bank of the pond and pretty much surrender to being caught without a fight. 

Back in the barn there is a room that once held a large bread oven they suppose, or maybe it was a cold storage, it’s not really clear. But these days it is used as the butchery room and it is soon to be tiled and turned into an extra kitchen. There is a big pot steaming in there and all the tools needed are passed through a steel door from the farmhouse kitchen. Louisa and Stewart explain to me how the animals lives will end and that Stewart will do that. They explain that I can stay for that, I can give it a go myself or I can wait until it is done and then come back and help Louisa pluck and butcher the birds. I give the ducks and chickens a nod goodbye and go in to have some breakfast as I assume I will not be hungry after all this.

When they call me back in Louisa already has a duck half plucked, she takes another and dips it in the large hot water pot to make the feathers loosen and then she shows me how to remove the feathers. I feel ill and grossed out but keep calm and give gratitude and respect to the animals to counter the feeling of ick. These ducks just gave their lives and for me to be grossed out seems, well, just awful on my part. This is a life that has been taken to enrich our lives so respect and carful attention needs to be given. I focus on the task and take in all that Louisa is telling me. She knows so much and is a great guide, she is so giving with information about the process. She also knows I am way out of my comfort zone, so with each step she is checking in to make sure that I am ok.

The process goes along with me going out for fresh air when Stewart comes in to prepare the next bird. After the 4 ducks are plucked we begin with the 4 roosters, 3 were caught and the other was from a friend of theirs and he wasn’t doing well, attempts to nurse him back to health had failed and so the plan was to prepare him for the dogs to eat. Plucking the roosters is so much easier, their feathers are not as thick, their skin is thinner plus they are smaller than the ducks so they are plucked clean really quickly.

Next step is to butcher the animals. The ducks are first and Louisa explains with each cut of the knife what she is doing, she removes the head and the feet and then she moves on to the innards, she explains what each part is, it’s purpose in the animals body and what will be done with it now. Some parts are inedible and will be thrown away, some given to the dogs, some made into pate or other charcuterie. Very little is waste. She asks me if I am comfortable removing the heads and feet on the remaining birds so she can keep butchering. I have done this before, at home with chickens I have gotten straight from the farmer, at home I usually use a kitchen knife and it is a really difficult thing to do. She offers garden shears to remove the heads and feet and it is so much easier. I remove the necks as well and we save those for stock. She works her way through butchering each bird and when they are done we take them to the big fridge where they will rest for a few days before being made into delicious meals. The end of this task is the end of this work day and I am so happy about that! I am proud of myself and I feel like I learned more in a few hours than I have in a long while. A mix of cooking skills and farm skills were involved and the words “Farm to table” became a reality! Looking back, this was by far the most emotionally taxing day on the farm for me, but also the day I learned the most.

Thursday:

Louisa is off for the weekend, home to London for a few days. Stewart is leaving early for a meeting so he feeds the pigs and then he takes Harmonie to school on his way out of town. I am left in charge of getting Phoenix up and ready for the school bus… I am not used to being around little ones so I am nervous but it’s fine of course, he is up and ready before I am haha and has already had his pancakes before his dad left, so he plays while I get ready for my day and then we walk to the mailbox to wait for the school bus. Once Phoenix is off to school John and I get started with the farm chores.

The day is pretty chill since we are feeling more comfortable with each task and working faster through each. I clean the rabbit enclosures and John moves wood and stacks it for the kitchen supply. I spend the rest of the day in the kitchen looking through the great cookbooks, I prepare a pumpkin and a chicken for dinner and then make chicken pumpkin curry for our dinner.

IMG_5148

IMG_5145

Friday:

We meet in the kitchen in the morning and now that John is feeling better Stewart is sick. So John and I are in charge of morning chores again and then we work on some other things around the farm… I can’t remember ha!

Image

Saturday:

Since Stewart is still feeling awful and the weather is bad, the day is short. John and I fix a few things in the chicken coop and then we are inside most of the afternoon.

Sunday:

This is the relaxing day so after morning chores Stewart makes a big brunch and we have pancakes (pretty much crepes) with a poached egg, homemade blood sausage, bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms, potatoes and then more pancakes, sweet ones with Nutella this time!

John and I take a walk with the dogs and when it starts raining on us we head back home. We read the news from the US and watch youtube for a while. In the evening Stewart prepares an amazing dinner, roast duck, the most amazing potatoes ever, ever!! They are boiled then put into a roasting pan with hot duck fat and then oven roasted, incredible! Also, celariac, green beans and cabbage.

The power flickers on and off because of a storm and we have this glorious dinner by candle light. The power comes back on just in time for us to clean up. I have really been enjoying cleaning up at the end of the day, something so satisfying about leaving a clean kitchen behind when you go to bed. Especially in this kitchen because it is amazing!! Louisa arrives back home late Sunday night.

DSC_0388

Monday:

We are up earlier than usual so that we can be ready to go to the market with Louisa. She sells eggs, sausage, chutney, treats and pate at the Mirande Marché (farmer’s market) each week. Doesn’t matter that it is storming, we are so excited to go to town!! After dropping Harmonie off at school we go over to the market building, some of the market is outside (the vendors selling things grown or made by other people) and some inside (the artisans and people that grow their own) We help Louisa load in the things she will sell and then we are set loose on the little village!

DSC_0455

DSC_0454

First stop is a little blue van Louisa told me about when I told her I miss coffee. The little van is converted into a cafe and creperié, a sweet German couple greets us “Bonjour” and with our reply they immediately figure we speak english… and start asking us where we are from, what we are doing here and what will we have for breakfast.

First things first, let’s have some coffee and then mmmm a crepé with apples and cinnamon to share, merci! They are so nice and when we tell them we are from California they say they are going to California, Palm Desert, tomorrow. We talk for a while as we eat the delicious crepe and drink our amazing coffees! Samples of yummy cakes are out and we ask for one for the road, will be nice to snack on while we look around the village. When we ask how much, the man smiles and says “Nothing!” oh come on, that’s so nice, but really? How much? “No, nothing!” He shrugs and smiles again, we go back and forth and yep, no, he is not letting us pay. He is laughing and smiling the whole time and it is just so cool to meet nice people, it was a perfect way to start the day!

DSC_0396DSC_0393IMG_5187

Off we go into the village and over to the square, where there is a dry goods market, pretty much just clothes and housewares. Then we see the tourist office. The woman running the office gives a very warm welcome and loads us up with information and brochures for the town and the region. She recommends we begin at St. Mary’s Cathedral, which sounds especially nice because it is raining like crazy!

DSC_0401The entrance to the cathedral is around the side and when we go in it is silent, I set my coffee cup down on a table and the echo is loud and long. We whisper and walk around, admiring the soaring ceilings and stained glass backlit by the brightening sky.

DSC_0411 DSC_0403

After a few moments a woman enters the church and we become even more silent than before as she stops and kneels at each station and alter. Stopping at the bulletin board on the way out. She probably does that everyday and it feels a bit awkward to be a tourist in that situation, so I hold off on the camera clicks until she leaves. There is some beautiful mosaic work , stained glass and painted walls inside the cathedral…

DSC_0415DSC_0411DSC_0421

…back out into the medieval world, we turn around the corner and begin to wander, the houses are so sweet and the streets are on a grid so it’s easy to get around with the map given at the tourist office.

We take our time to stop and take photos and talk about the homes and architecture. We walk down a lane that follows a creek behind some of the homes and we get a peek into some backyards, most have flowers, veggie gardens and chickens. When we reach the edge of town there is a park that goes along another edge, passing by the Country Club and then into a park that leads back to the market.

DSC_0435 DSC_0432 DSC_0431

DSC_0444DSC_0447

DSC_0450

DSC_0464

When we reach the market we have time for one more crepe,  a coffee and more conversation with Hans the crepe man. Hans tells us about some great local places to visit and when his sister and brother in law come over to the stand they have even more suggestions. Hans’ wife takes a crepe and coffee over to Louisa at her stall while we are chatting (they are just so nice!) and finally we are able to leave some euros for them but only if we take an entire spice cake with us! Deal.

At noon we help Louisa pack up her stand. On the way back to the farm we talk about visiting a thermal spa in the mountains with Louisa and the kids when they have a school break in a fortnight (I got too excited thinking a fortnight meant day after tomorrow… nope, means 2 weeks haha) and John and I asked a lot of questions about the area for suggestions for where we might visit on our upcoming day off. We choose Thursday as our day off, which also happens to be Valentine’s day, and we decide we will go to Auch, a large city about an hours journey away… On an upcoming post I will share our trip to Auch and also talk a little more about week 2 on the farm. Thanks for reading!

xoxo, Sierra

Weekend in Paris

A very early morning flight out of Dublin takes us to Paris! We make our way through the Metro and are let out practically at the doorstep of our hosts Kat and Keegan. They are artists in residency in Paris for a few months and were so sweet to host us for the weekend. They have a dream apartment on the Seine across from Notre Dame and with a view of the Eiffel Tower (weather permitting, if you lean out the window… but still!!!) They have a totally Parisienne snack laid out for us, baguette, cheese and meat, we have a quick snack and waste no time getting out onto the street for some sightseeing. First we go to their favorite bakery and grab a delicious little sandwich, at which point I realize my French is downright pathetic and I will receive no sympathy from the natives!

It’s raining and so we walk around the corner to a library with a beautiful collection of Illuminated manuscripts, these are gorgeous old books with beautiful writing and drawings, my roommate Esther got me into these books a few months ago so I was excited to see so many of them in one place. The library itself was gorgeous too!

DSC_0362

DSC_0361

Next we decide to walk along the Seine to Notre Dame, we take the walk slow and admire the homes and architecture all around us. Kat stops to film and it is the perfect photo-op since she is gorgeous, adorably dressed and that camera, wow!

DSC_0372

DSC_0368

We continue along the Seine and pass under bridges and past boats and barges as we approach Notre Dame I am totally in awe! This church is the church every other aspires to be, it’s crazy huge and has so many incredible details! The most beautiful man made thing I have ever seen…

DSC_0381

DSC_0379

We take the stairs up from the riverside and as we walk towards the cathedral there is beautiful music coming out and we are all sort of pulled in. Entering we smell incense and hear a mass going on. We walk through, whispering and admiring and wishing we could go upstairs too…

There are 9 very large bells going down the center of the cathedral, each one covered in cloth. A woman tells Keegan these new bells are to celebrate the 850th year of the cathedral, she says they are replacing bells that were stolen during WWII, but a news article I read says they are replacing bells that are older and out of tune… anyway they will ring out, along with every other church bell in Paris, on March 23rd, 2013.

DSC_0382 2  DSC_0401

DSC_0396 2    DSC_0407

After Notre Dame we walk past shops out of a dream! Look at that little dog behind the counter at the bakery!

IMG_4875 DSC_0421 DSC_0428 2

and some other lovely scenes from that day…

IMG_4879  IMG_4872 IMG_4830DSC_0425 2 DSC_0423IMG_4824

That evening Keegan made an amazing dinner and we went to an open studio within the building that Kat and Keegan live. It was so fun to bring our wine along with us, one flight down to a sweet Bulgarian print makers studio and to meet people from all over the world in her tiny art space.

Saturday

The next morning we wake up early for the Marché! It’s one of the things I have been looking forward to and Kat and Keegan go every weekend to collect their weeks groceries. There will be a post devoted entirely to the Saturday and Sunday Marché’s, they were just amazing and I took a million photos and, well, they deserve their own blog post, but, here’s a photo of our haul from the first market…

DSC_0366

The weather is just crazy, raining, hailing, sunny but freezing, we decide to scratch our idea of having a picnic outdoors and set up a picnic inside the apartment, which is fine since with their view we are still technically picnicking on the Seine, la-di-da!

We brave the cold and walk, and walk, and walk, ultimate destination being the Louvre, we pass so many beautiful things on the way…

These stands set up selling books, magazines, comics and… are those action figures?

DSC_0335

DSC_0342

DSC_0343

DSC_0345

DSC_0366

DSC_0371


DSC_0373

DSC_0374

and we finally make it to the Louvre and walk down Place de Concorde. The sky was amazing that night and all around us it is misty and it rains off and on. Le Grand Roue, the large beautiful ferris wheel was more and more gorgeous as we approached it…

DSC_0387

DSC_0404  DSC_0394

DSC_0406

One last photo before we are home for the night, a sweet little place around the corner from Kat and Keegan’s.

DSC_0416

Sunday

We go to the Marché again, a different, larger one this time, more on the perfect Marché’s of Paris later! Here are some of the random things we see on the way home…

DSC_0354

DSC_0397

DSC_0404

There are so many cool alley ways throughout Paris, here are some shots from one near Kat and Keegan’s, street art, a bookstore and a pop-up flea market…

DSC_0410

DSC_0409

There are also a lot of merry-go-rounds throughout Paris, here is one around the corner from where we stayed, a brass band set up and was playing music too! Random magic!

DSC_0416

DSC_0423

We decide to go to the Eiffel Tower on our last day and we take a walk in the street, they close some streets to cars on Sunday, there were people on bikes, lot’s of people walking their dogs, a surprising amount of rollerbladers and “speed rollerbladers” (spandex and all). I can’t remember the name of the street we waked on (doh!) and I can’t seem to find it when I search online… anyway, it was cool and we walked through a very long tunnel!

DSC_0334

DSC_0335

DSC_0340

DSC_0349

DSC_0357

DSC_0364

DSC_0377

DSC_0376

DSC_0384

Here’s us and our hosts the amazing Kat and Keegan.

DSC_0399

DSC_0403

On the walk home we passed Notre Dame and of course I had to take a few more photos, here’s one…

DSC_0420

We left Paris early Monday morning reeling from a wonderful time sightseeing and so many amazing meals with lovely people. A train took us south to Tarbes, the whole time passing beautiful countryside dotted with chateau’s, farm houses and churches, lot’s of small villages and a few larger cities.

From Tarbes we got on a bus to Mirande and connected with our first workaway hostess, Louisa, she was waiting for us when we arrived and drove us to the farm, where I sit now, in a lovely old kitchen! More about the farm and the sweet family and all the animals soon!

xoxo, Sierra

One day in Dublin

After a long turbulent flight we were happy to see Icebergs out the window give way to the sweeping green coastal lands of Ireland. As we fly over morning in Ireland, little groups of homes make up towns and green of every shade is a quilt on the land below us.

We happily get off the plane and catch a bus to town, headed for College Green as suggested by the ticket salesgirl. We are excited to wander the neighborhood and stretch our legs but first find a hostel to put our bags down. A perfect place is found, bags are locked up and we are ready to explore!

First we go across the street to Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university, founded in 1592, the campus is beautiful with perfect green stretches of lawn covering much of the courtyard. All the buildings face inwards and it creates a really nice atmosphere, like you stepped back in time. Lot’s of cute stylish young people are around and even though it is a tourist attraction it just seems like a normal campus.

IMG_4744

We wander out of the large stone archway of the campus to look for the neighborhood Temple Bar. Walking through small winding streets of shops and then down the larger pedestrian only shopping street called Grafton Street we are lead to a park, St. Stephens Green. Passing through Fusiliers Arch we enter large pretty park surrounding a duck filled lake, bridges cross the lake and more perfect lawns (all of them are chained off, which is probably why they are so perfect!) are stretched out all over this popular lunchtime spot.

Now, we really want to find this Temple Bar place! We finally get our bearings and follow the signs to Temple Bar…

IMG_4749

This old neighborhood has a more colorful, cool atmosphere with lot’s of shops and bars. We find The Temple Bar, a pub est. 1840. When we enter a guy with a guitar is singing Irish tunes and we head towards the bar where John orders a Guinness and we both order sandwiches.

IMG_4750

These sandwiches are super delicious by the way and the Guinness was mighty tasty! As we enjoy the sammies and beer and the atmosphere we watch hail stones and rain come down like crazy outside, the little stones of ice bouncing off the cobblestones and then settling in and looking like snowfall.

Hailing on Temple St.

DSC_0351

After some help from a local we decide we will walk to the Dublin Museum of Modern Art, passing through the Viking/Medieval area and the Guinness factory and then we will walk back to the hostel along the River Liffey. We pass an old windmill along the way…

IMG_4775

and the Guinness which reminds me of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, because of it’s industrial smoke stacks and high gates…

IMG_4759

We reach the Irish Museum of Modern Art which is closed for renovations. We walk around the grounds and find a beautiful 17th century formal garden.

IMG_4762IMG_4761

DSC_0355

DSC_0354

IMG_4763

We take shelter from the rain in a stone garden house and pretty much have the place to ourselves. When the rain lets up we walk down to the river and stroll along coming across the National Museum which is free but was only open for another 20 min., so we ran in there and looked around until they kicked us out. Then back to the hostel where we lay down for a nap totally exhausted! Jetlag makes it seem later than it actually is so from 5:3o on I stay in bed, watching the others dorm-mates file in and get ready for sleep as I catch up on some photo posting on instagram and facebook. Whilst I sleep, John goes out for another beer at the “The Brazen Head” the oldest bar in Dublin, I wish I had been awake enough to go! We had to be up at 4am for our flight to Paris…  and now I write this from a lovely apartment overlooking the Seine, Notre Dame (and the Eiffel Tower, if I lean out the window!) we are staying with a sweet couple, Kat and Keegan, we met them over the summer, they were on their was to Paris then. They are amazing hosts and tour guides. We had an absolutely lovely day yesterday and today! More about those adventures soon!

xoxo, Sierra