Kayaking in Rural France - Day 37
Reims Travel Blog› entry 22 of 30 › view all entries
Upon arrival in Reims, France, we were picked up by our new hosts, Emmanuelle and Antoine. Squeezing with our packs in our laps into their tiny car, we were driven about 30 minutes into a more rural area of forests and farmland. Their house is in a small village which name I can't remember. There we met their son and daughter, Leo and Lucille, and their lap dog Toy. After settling in we took a short walk around their small town, and upon returning we had a fantastic dinner of ratatouille. Not long afterward we went to bed.
So earlier we mentioned we were going to take a cruise. We chose one that departed from Barcelona in three days, and just figured we would take a rather long train ride the day before. We had already booked the cruise, so we NEEDED to get to Barcelona. Earlier this day we had already attempted to make a reservation at the Reims train station, but we were told the reservations were being blocked. After being asked why our ticket booth girl just shrugged. She didn't speak english very well (and we all know how well Eli speaks french), so we didn't press the matter.
We figured we would do some snooping around the internet at our hosts' house, and maybe they could help us with potential phone calling. So the next morning of saturday, august 30, we spent a good amount of time pulling our hair out. Antoine helped us by making some phone calls, but the end result was the same: for some inexplicable reason making reservations was not possible for ANY of the trains between this day and our cruise departure date. Antoine seemed to sympathize with our plight, as he basically told us the french train system sucked. They have good trains, but not enough and often difficulty reserving them. Weird situations like this seem to happen here. From our perspective it has been difficult in France even up to this point, as most of the trains require reservations and the only place you can make them is at the train stations; no internet or phone. Elsewhere throughout Europe our handy Eurail passes have been all we've needed to simply get on any train we like.
So anyways, now we are really panicking, and decide to look into flights. We have heard that city-hopping in Europe by plane isn't too expensive, and sure enough we quickly found fares from Paris to Barcelona that seemed reasonable. We breathed a tentative sigh of relief, but weren't too thrilled just yet. We have become accustomed to the train systems here, and aren't sure of what to expect from european airports. Who knows what kind of crazy hoops we have to jump through, or how much the language barrier will be a problem, or what else could be a problem. But for now we had hope!
So after a quick lunch, we again squeezed into their tiny car. This time no packs, but with the addition of Lucille, we were cozily driven to a small river about 15 minutes from their house. Here we rented kayaks for Eli and Antoine, and canoes for Jenni, Emmanuelle, Lucille, and a friend. . With some trepidation (Antoine of course had to illustrate his own first experience kayaking, including many spills into the river), Eli tried his hand for the first time in a kayak. Fortunately, the excursion down the river turned out to be successful. Not a single dunking, and he only hit one of the neighboring canoes once! The fact that it was a very lazy little river probably had something to do with it.
Returning home we had dinner of pork kidney and mushrooms (kidney being another first for both of us). Worn out from all the stress of Barcelona trip-planning, not to mention the exciting river trip, we went off to bed.