Monday, August 15, 2011
After the bike ride, we caught up with Mary-Clare and stopped for a 4:00 (French for snack time!). I had a waffle with créme caramel and chocolate ice cream on top. It was delicious!
Since we were still toasty from the bike ride, and the weather was sooooo nice, we went back to the hotel, donned our suits and hit the beach. The tide was coming in so there were some good waves. The water was not too terribly cold (until I got out to about chest high--then it was cold at my feet). In addition to the ocean, there was a Sea of Humanity on the beach. All those photos of resort beaches where there are a ton of people--it was like that. Wall-to-wall bodies the whole length of the beach. Of course, it had something to do with the fact that it was also a major holiday in France! It appeared that all of France came to La Baule.
After our little beach excursion, we returned to the hotel to shower and then off to dinner. We found a very nice restaurant and were able to get a table (even without a reservation!!!). We ate dinner, then made our way back to the beach because there were fireworks at about 10:30. There were even more people than earlier! We had a great spot to watch the fireworks as they were going off right in front of us! It was pretty spectacular!
I think Max had a pretty good birthday!
Friday, August 12, 2011
We arrived in La Baule a bit after 3:15. My friend had reserved a car. We put our luggage in and headed for the hotel. We found the hotel without too many additional turns. It is one short block off the beach. It's the Best Western Britanny Hotel. I have a very nice room with a very French feel to it. I can see the ocean from my window.
We went for a exploratory walk along the beach. I went down into the sand to the water's edge to dip my feet in the Atlantic. This is my first time to see the Atlantic Ocean! We were looking for a place to have a little snacky and found a place with Belgian Waffles. They were buy one, get one free. I had coconut ice cream on mine. It was delicious!
My friend went off in search of a guide book and her son and I went back to the beach. My friend was not successful in finding a bookstore, but she did pick up some info at the tourism office.
We had a good dinner then returned to our hotel. We are all just a wee bit tired from our 4:00am wake up. I'm sure tomorrow's agenda will bring more fun in La Baule!
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
After the noon time meal, prepared by Super Biker Woman's Super Great Friend, Mary-Clare, it was decided that it was a good day for flying. So, off the three Super Friends went up to Col de la Forclaz to see if Super Biker Woman could actually fly. The first place had no more flying opportunities available. The second place had a flight at 6:00 (it was 3:30). Super Biker Woman took it. To kill time, the three had a little refreshment, then SBW and SF Max walked (practically climbed) up to where the paragliders take off. They watched them for awhile then returned to where SGF, Mary-Clare was waiting with Super Dog, Vergoole.
After what seemed like a few thousand more hours, it was time for flying. Super Biker Woman met her fearless pilot (but didn't really catch his name), helped set up the equipment (is it really a good idea to trust the novice?), and don the flying costume (part of which was a helmet which SBW is very familiar with). They moved around to the launch pad. With a few simple instructions, SBW was ready to fly. The flyers were securely strapped in. The wind was right. The countdown was given. Then, with a few little running steps, Super Biker Woman was up in the air, FLYING!!! WOO HOO!!!
Translation: I did a tandem hanglider flight from Col de la Forclaz which, as you can see from the photos, is pretty high up above Lake Annecy. I had thought to do a paragliding (with the parachute-like things) flight, but the guy said the hanglider was a better flight (more adventurous) so I went with that. I was in a harness and helmet. Both the pilot and I were strapped to the glider. I merely hung onto the pilot's harness. We walked to the edge of the platform, ran about 5 steps and were up in the air. Once we were flying, the pilot unhooked the foot pocket and I put my feet in. Words can hardly describe how amazing it was! Of course, the scenery was spectacular! We followed the air currents, circled around to ride the drafts up and gain altitude. Then we came flying very fast over the take off platform. I was Woo Hooing to Mary-Clare and Max who were taking pictures. Then we shot out over the lake again. We circled around, caught another draft and went higher. It was so incredible! We stayed pretty high for a long time. I had told the pilot when I was here last time I had wanted to do this, but I didn't have enough money so I couldn't do it. He said because I had waited 2 years to do this he was giving me an extra long flight. The guy that had taken off moments before me was on the ground long before we were. When we were getting closer to the landing place, but were still high in the air, he asked if I wanted to fly fast and do some tricks. Of course I said YES!!! We whirled around circling left then right then going really fast then almost seeming to stop in mid-air before, again, sweeping around. It was so much fun!!!!! For the landing, it was really quite simple. We came in much like an airplane, landing on the wheels and dragging our bodies in the harnesses along the ground. We came to a stop pretty quickly. I got up on my knees, removed my feet from the foot pocket and stood up. The pilot carried the glider and I just walked along in the harness to the place where they pack it all up. After removing my harness, I went to see the photos the pilot had taken. The camera batteries had died, so there was no video but, there were 26 pictures. The gal gave me a 10€ discount on the CD of photos. As soon as I can download the CD, I'll post actual flying pictures.
Mary-Clare and Max came down to the landing to pick me up. I told them it was awesome and not scary at all. I'm not sure they believed me, but it's true! I was never scared. It was exciting and also peaceful floating through the air. I would definitely do it again!
So, Super Biker Woman CAN fly!
Monday, August 8, 2011
Later on Mary-Clare made her delicious souffle. I think I ate more than my share. It's so good!
After an afternoon spent in a somewhat vegetative state (from so much souffle), Mary-Clare and I drove to Talloires. It is a small village up the lake from Menthon-St-Bernard. It's on the lake, but many of the houses are on the hillside. It is downhill from the main road into Talloires. Most of the people are only there for the summer. Talloires is very picturesque with the lake and the very old (think 17th century) buildings.
We went for an aperitif at the Abbey (hotel and restaurant--formerly, and no surprise here, an abbey). I had a glass of lemonade (with the interesting brand name of Pschitt--this is not the first glass of Pschitt I've had. Max and I have been having a lot of fun with that one!). It was very nice to sit along the lake (and drink Pschitt--okay, enough already).
Saturday, August 6, 2011
After our walk, we went back to the subway. We walked back to the car and drove to EPFL, Max's school (okay, college--Ecolé Polytechnique Fédérale du Lausanne). The Rolex Learning Center (a student union building of sorts with the library) was the only building open. It's a very cool building (I'll post photos). It would be fun to ride a bike in this building. Too bad they frown upon that!
We took the scenic route home (the route I would take if I were riding Stella). We went through a few small villages, one with a somewhat peculiar name--Gland. We had some fun with that one!
Tonight is Feté du Lac in Annecy. There are fireworks, but we saw them last time I was here.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
I got to experience, for the first time, the "missing bag". Yes, my suitcase did not complete the journey with me. My flight out of Seattle was delayed by about 40 minutes. In San Francisco I changed planes and airlines. I made it to my next flight, but I don't think my suitcase did. Anyway, I had packed clothing in my carryon, so it was not a big hardship. My suitcase arrived last night at the house where I am staying. It did make me think about what I would have to do if that should happen on my bike tour of New Zealand. I guess, I would have to hang out in Kaitaia until the missing bag arrived. We'll just hope it doesn't happen...
The sun is up, and it is going to be another great day in France!