Days are getting shorter, darker, colder – a perfect opportunity to revisit my summer holiday this year.
We filmed a lot and so I could put together this little video here, showing a little bit of everything around our trip, in non-chronological order. The details are below.
In the last couple of years we fled the sunny and warm Germany and headed north west to Ireland and Scotland. These countries are as lovely as they are rainy with 25 °C being regarded as “a lucky day”. And although I absolutely learned to love the Scottish climate, we decided this year to get a proper summer holiday, with beaches, sun, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Together with Marcel, a friend of Doro’s, we boarded our tiny car, a Fiat Panda, and headed west. Doro and Marcel went two days earlier as I had to complete a lab meeting before jumping on a plane and catching up with them in Paris. The next morning we were eager to see the sea. We found it in Étretat, just North of Le Havre, surrounded by high cliffs.
We then boarded our Panda and went off to sleep in a little house on a farm with roosters waking us in the morning and a trampoline in the garden. From there we drove through Normandy to Mont Saint Michel, an abbey erected on a little island in the sea.
It certainly looks spectacular. This is also why there were about a million tourists, unloaded from busses and guarded by heavily armed military units. The climb upwards reminded us of the busy streets of Venice, with salesmen offering cheap memorabilia at high prices to tourists left and right. The abbey itself is a museum, with about 10 € per ticket. It is very fascinating to see how the monks lived on that little rock in the sea, and in fact still are, although I guess the solitude is not what it used to be.
The last stage led us to our goal – the Bretagne, or Brittanny. We enjoyed our first gallette, a crêpe made from buckwheat and usually filled savory and not sweet. While we sat outside in the cold, we warmed ourselves with a drink made from hot milk and caramel breton.
Our accommodation in Brittanny, near Tréguennec, was a humble little mobile home, complete with a stove, bathroom, paper thin walls and a terrace. Just enough comfort to enjoy the evening but uncomfortable enough to drive us out every day to do something fun.
Marcel prepped his board and on the first day we checked out the nearby beach.
I also borrowed some equipment from a local surf shop and jumped into the water. The weather was just recovering from a stormy period and the waves were, well, not beginner-friendly. I spent a good hour just lifting my board over breaking waves, always being pushed back and never even just close to be carried by a wave. Still, I had fun. Exhausting, borderline-frustrating fun.
And this is how we spent most days. We slept in, had breakfast, headed to the beach, Marcel surfed, I tried to surf, Doro bathed in the sun until the last day, when she took a bodyboard from the store and joined us in the water.
On off-days though we explored the countryside. We headed North, to Pointe du Raz and hiked around there. We climbed the cliffs, ignoring the very visible and accessible hiking path and enjoyed the hot day and the fresh breeze from the sea.
When we were not climbing hay stacks we drove into the surrounding villages. And apart from some delicious crêpes and Kouigns Bigoudens. I have to say we didn’t find much interesting bits. The light houses we passed looked spectacular though, but very long waiting lines stopped us from climbing one.
When I spoke about our plan to go to Brittany to people before, they always exclaimed something to the extent of “Oh that’s nice, but sooo cold, the Atlantic Ocean is cold, the weather is cold…” To which I can now reply: “It doesn’t matter, if you sport a fashionable wet suit just like we did.” And anyway, the weather was lovely.
If my face looks kinda weird in the pictures, it is not only because it is just that way, thank you very much, but also because I managed to break my toe while jumping on a surf board. After a couple of tries I was actually close to standing on my board on a wave and all, but then I caught my toe on the board, put all my weight on it, and straight-up fractured it. Luckily this happened on our last day at the beach. Unluckily we later on walked for 5 hours through Bruges/Belgium.
Also on the way back we divided the distance into stages. We took a bath near Calais, explored Bruges in Belgium and learned that Duisburg is not really a place to be.
Brittany is such a lovely place. The food, the people, the weather – everything is delightful. And I learned that I don’t want to be heavy anymore. Being heavy was the biggest problem when getting on the board and staying there, it also did not help with climbing and in general is neither nice to look at nor great when doing sports.
So next year, whatever we do then, we’ll do it in a much better shape.