February Break Travel
20.2.09 - 25.2.09
La Rochelle is a small port town, about two hours north of Bordeaux, on France's west coast. I really wanted to relax by the beach for my week off in February, and that is exactly what I did. I was lucky enough to enjoy beautiful weather while I was there and also to have stayed with an awesome couchsurfing host who introduced me to great people. This was my first time traveling alone, but I didn't actually spend that much time alone.
My couchsurfing host, Nico
I stayed with my host about 20 minutes away from downtown, in an equally charming part of town called Port de Minimes. My first day I mostly walked around, enjoying the sun, taking pictures and I had lunch right by the historical port, Vieux Port and its two towers.
At some point during the day, I also stumbled onto this cute little park.
After meeting up with my couchsurfing host, he introduced me to all his friends and we had a fun night, complete with my first experience shucking oysters. Now I know why they're so expensive at restaurants, it's a lot of work to get those things prepped. =P I don't really like them, but I enjoyed learning something new and so quintessentially french.
Day #2: Nantes
My host was nice enough to invite me on a little roadtrip to Nantes he was taking with his friends. I felt very lucky to have had the opportunity to see another French city without having to spend a dime and without having planned it. We didn't spend much time there, but it was still pretty awesome.
Day #3 was in a tourist scope, uneventful, but like I said, I was there to relax. I ended up meeting up with an inhabitant of La Rochelle who had also invited me to couchsurf, but since I had already found lodging for my stay, I decided to meet with him for a movie and coffee. He was really nice and I had a good time. People involved in the couchsurfing project tend to be fun to hang out with because they're genuinely interested in all cultures.
I started off the day by taking pictures of all the fantastic graffiti all over these two particular buildings right off the Office du Tourisme. When I showed my friends from La Rochelle the photos they told me that these buildings were actually about to be demolished to make a new hotel, which sucks.
Afterward, I went to the Ile de Ré, which is an island connected to the coast by the longest bridge in France. The only issue about the island was that there were many stops along the way and I was never quite sure where to get off, so I ended up on the Saint Martin en Ré, which I heard later on is one of the best stops. In any case, I enjoyed great weather once again and relaxing lunch by the Atlantic Ocean. During this time, I just reflected on my trip amongst many things... Then I took a little walk into town and climbed to the top of a cathedral to enjoy the views of this little island. It was a little breathtaking.
Going back into town, I met up with a friend and we walked around town and watched the sunset. In a little town like this and on a good day, it's a must.
On my last day I went to the Aquarium, which I believe is well-priced and worth visiting. I didn't take any pictures because I went so snap-happy at the Aquarium in Barcelona, but it was still good. This aquarium had swordfish, but the one in Barcelona had penguins, so I don't know... they both have something special to offer. The last thing I did on this day was meet up with a friend and I learned another quintessential french activity, crepe making!
My stay in La Rochelle was so much more than what I anticipated. I met great people, learned a few tricks and really got to relax. Being by the beach was particularly nice for me because it reminded me of Santa Barbara, but in the good way. I'd have to say, though, La Rochelle is for lovers. Go there on a romantic getaway.