I’m back home in Winnipeg now and still intending to blog about the rest of my adventures! So back to the catching up… Way back in mid April, Jane and I got back from Amsterdam late on a Monday afternoon, and the following week was jam-packed, in a good way, right up until my parents arrived on Saturday afternoon! Just a heads up, in a very out-of-character move, this post is long and excessively detailed, possibly because now I’m home and feeling nostalgic? Monday was Jill’s birthday and a group of about a dozen of us went out for dinner at a creperie near the train station that’s good for accomodating big groups. It was my lucky day because I scored a seat right beside the birthday girl in the middle of the long table despite being late, because Jessie and I like to share food and she was sitting by Jill. I felt like a bit of a cheat because everyone knows latecomers never get prime real estate at a dinner table. Aoife, one of my close friends who was only there for first term, came back to Angers from Ireland for a week long visit and arrived that same evening, so Jessie, Paola and I met her at the train station and she joined us at dinner at the restaurant, which was conveniently located right beside the train station and stayed with me for the first two days of her visit. I couldn’t find the nozzle for the air mattress I borrowed (there were two or three amongst all the exchange students that were passed around whenever someone had a visitor), so Aoife slept on the floor with just a comforter for padding, insisting she was comfortable, probably with some sort of adorable saying like “hard floor, sign of a soft heart.” (It’s a joke, because Aoife’s real favourite saying is “cold hands, sign of a warm heart,” and when someone offers her sugar for her tea she says “no thanks, I’m sweet enough already.”) Classes were basically already finished by then, and I just had a few hours of class that week. On Tuesday, I went to Nantes for the day to meet up with my aunt and uncle’s niece, Kathryn, and her friend Stephanie, who were backpacking in Europe for about two and half months. Angers is only 40 minutes away from Nantes by train, so it worked out perfectly that they were stopping there! We went to the chateau, then rented rented bikes and cycled to the outskirts of the city to picnic in a big park. After we returned the bikes, we wandered around the city centre and went shopping, then sat in a park near the train station with a bottle of wine and some cheese and baguette until I had to go catch my train around 8:30 pm. I had expected to meet up with them again later on in our travels, but time really just flew by! So it was perfect that we could meet up, and somewhat ironic meeting in France, after growing up familiar with each others’ faces from pictures on our shared aunt and uncle’s fridge, but as far as either of us can remember, never having met before!
When I got back to Angers, I was unlocking my bike outside the train station when I saw someone checking the bus schedule, and thought to myself “no French girl wears her skirts that short or her ponytails that high” and sure enough it was Emma! By the way, she loves her new catch phrase. Her mum and her mum’s partner were in Angers visiting, and they invited me to join them for a drink so I ignored the paper I should have been writing and sat down for a couple Monacos (great choice, as it always is to skip homework in favour of play, because they were really lovely and lots of fun). On Wednesday I had a couple classes, then went to the train station to meet Natalie, a close friend from high school who is working at the Vimy Ridge memorial site this summer in northern France (and bloggin’ about it: http://abyrdinthehand.wordpress.com/). She arrived a few days before her accommodations were ready, so she came to Angers to stay with me for a few days. That night we cooked dinner then went downtown for drinks with some friends, and Natalie reaped the benefits of my trial-and-error air mattress use with Aoife, who stayed with Jessie once Natalie got there – 3 in the room would really be pushing it! I found a bike for Natalie to borrow on Thursday, and we cycled to Lac de Maine for a picnic with Alexandra.
We found some friends there, and after we had our sandwiches and hung out for a while I left Natalie with the group while I cycled over to my tutee’s house for a lesson, and visited with her family for a while after – her father is a professor of wine and food, and gave me some restaurant suggestions for my parents’ upcoming visit! Afterwards we met some friends downtown for dinner, then had a sloppy double-bike ride back to the residence with Natalie, Jane and I on two bikes. Unfortunately my bike seat was too high for either of them to ride it, and only my bike had a spot on the back for sitting, so there was no escaping my horrible balance and lack of double-biking skill; we made it back safely though, and quicker than we would have on the bus. Once we got back to the residence, we started a snowballing process of collecting friends, hopping around to different rooms on our way to a party on campus, stopping to drink/visit/wait for the inhabitant to get ready in every room, and despite the party being over by the time we got there, it was a really fun evening. On Friday Jane, Natalie, and I went for lunch at a creperie, then met up with Aoife for the afternoon, and cooked dinner at the residence. The next morning, Natalie had an early train and unfortunately woke up feeling a bit sick, but we made a heroic effort and after boarding the bus at my residence only 20 minutes before departure, she made the train! Aoife, Jessie, Jane, Jill, Alexandra and I went to the market late Saturday morning and I bought a bunch of food for a picnic when my parents arrived later that day, and the six of us went to the botanical gardens to eat and nap the early afternoon away.
After nap time I walked down to the train station to meet my parents! I got all excited and went over to the platform for the wrong train, and was afraid they’d missed their train until I realized it wasn’t arriving for another ten minutes. Once the right train got there, we dropped their bags off at the hotel and went to the perfect picnic spot, overlooking the river, the chateau, and the cathedral. My parents fought off jetlag during dinner with Jane at La Cantina, a deceptively Latin-sounding name for a very charming traditional French restaurant with chalkboard menus that the owners carry around to each table.