A Travellerspoint blog

Being a caveman

sunny 25 °C

When we first arrived at Niaux Cave nobody was there because they had just left on the 11 30 tour and we still had 2 hours before we went on the 1 30 english tour. So we thought it woud be a good idea to go and have our picnic lunch. At 1 30 when we got back and it was time to go and see the cave paintings. it was a long and spooky walk, in it was an active cave so everything was dripping and there was puddles everywhere i was the only one that didn't step in any. Our guide told us that the cave paintings were 14,000 years old. She also told us that the artists had to be very quick painters because the torches they used for light only lasted forty five minutes. But when we got to the black room the only part of our tour that had animal paintings we saw there were everywhere goats buffalo horses but no reindeer their prime food source. The main theory is that the animals that are in the caves are sacred.

After we went in the cave we drove down to a cool outdoor museam called Prehistoric Park. We went there because our guide recomended it to us and said we could throw spears. When we got there we went directly to the spear throwing i was a bit better than everyone because our chimney sweep in Nordegg taught me how. After that we went to do painting with the exact formula that the cavemen used. Next we went to the demonstration of how to make fire from scratch with no matches. First he put some powder made from those big mushrooms that grow on dead trees. Then he cracked flint and iron ore together he said you can not create fire with flint on flint because it produces white sparks that are not hot enough to make fire. Then the mushroom powder starts to smoke he told us that the mushroom powder was so extremely flamable that even one spark woud make it burn then he added pine needles and then made a nest of hay and then he stuck the fire in it and it lit.

After that he also demonstrated how to make fire by rubbing wood together. First he took a bow strung with fishing wire. Then he wrapped the wire around the stick placed the stick in a little nick that he had just made in the wood. And started to move the bow from side to side and the stick whirred round and round. Amd smoke came out of the nick. If you ever try to do this at home use a cherry wood stick and a conifer wood plank and dont forget to make the nick in the side of the plank.

The park also had stuffed cave lions, mammoths and bison.


And finally, in the middle of the night here yesterday i was woken up by a giant bang and shake. Neve and i hid under our covers. In the morning e found out it was an earthquake!

Posted by Arin MacDyer 04:34 Archived in France Tagged james Comments (3)

Why would anyone want to eat sheeps brains?

sunny 24 °C

We are in France. I decided to make a blog on all the strange food we have seen in supermarkets in Europe.

1 Sheeps brains. why would anyone want to eat sheeps brains?
2 Pigs ears. I dont see the purpose of this and it would probobaly taste very waxy.
3 Sheep , cow, and pig hearts. That is just discusting i would never want to eat an animal heart blah!
4 Whole goat heads eyes and everything.
5 Chickens with feathers, heads, and feet still intakt.
6 Whole sharks looking at you from the sea food section. This is very sad becuase sharks are my favorite animal and how did they even get thst i thought shark fishing was iligal in most countrys.
7 French don't make their own milk so you are always buying powdered milk or some weird artoficial formula.
8 Rabbit. Our dad made us eat rabbit can you belive that it could have been somebodys pet ! I didnt like it anyways.
9 French grocery stores have this weird system and it works like this you put the bag full of fruit on the scale and then you press either saying fruits or exotiques then you put the sticker on.
10 But the best thing about grocery stores here is the dessert section is huge and nothing is over 5 euros.

After Pezenas we went down to Barcelona for 3 days. One very odd thing about Spain was that we were an hours drive from the french border and there was completely no Orangina not a drop. On our first day we took the free shuttle bus that our campsite provided. When we finally got to Barcelona i was not suprised to find it CRAZY busy. Then when me and Neve discovered there was an aquarium a gondala and lots more we werent so eager because my dad was telling us that we had to go on the gondala before the aquarium but a half hours pestering did the job. We were in Barcelona for three days but we never got to go on a tour of the stadium humph! We have one more week of France to go and then were going to see my grandma and grandad and aunts and uncles in England!

Posted by Arin MacDyer 01:35 Archived in France Tagged james Comments (1)

Getting Fat in France

semi-overcast 18 °C

We've chased the good weather to the south of France and are nestled into a little gite in the garden of a vineyard.We are surrounded by vineyards, a few smalll wheat fields and a peach orchard yet are only a ten minute walk from the town of Pezenas. Exciting news, Neve has learned to ride a bike! So in reward for doing her schoolwork we've been on long rides throughout the countyside. James has not forgotten his french and has been putting on his best accent to order crepes in town, buy food and spices from the market, and talk to people we meet on our outings.

We are certainly enjoying the food and wine in France. The bad weather in the north encouraged long brasserie lunches, three delicious courses spread over two hours. Before Al Mac and Cindy left we a particularly memorable meal on a patio in the heart of the medieval city of Carcassonne-the starter salad was chicken gizzards on top of lettuce, duck cassoulet, and crepes with creme for dessert. Yum. There are picnic spots everywhere so now that spring has arrived we bring our baguette and stinky cheeses every time we leave the house. I am so happy to be having fresh Pain au Chocolat with my morning coffee. Simon can't leave the grocery store without Creme Caramel desserts in the cart. We've tried fantastic local wines and can't believe the quality for less than 5 euros a bottle. But don't worry too much for our health, the fresh produce is also fantastic and way cheaper than we expected it to be.

We've spent a fair bit of time catching up on schoolwork but each day have headed to a different highlight in the region. Pezenas itself has been really lovely to walk through with its 16th century buildings filled with artists and other quaint shops - no tourist crap here! The Saturday market was nearly as lively and interesting as those in asia. I've discovered a love of ornate doors and have found kindred spirits here who collect and display doors in a museum, free for everyone. Pezenas is noted for its sweet/savoury petite pies and berlingot, which are handmade boiled candies. We biked over to the factory and got to watch them make a batch of lemon candies, samples gratuis...

Its not far to the Mediterranean so we spent an afternoon birdwatching along the coastal salt marshes and were thrilled to spot wild flamingoes. In the other direction we drove the Cirque de Navacelles, a large canyon with (of course) a village built at the very bottom of it. In that range of hills there are hundreds of caves carved out of limestone and we toured a very grand one called the Grottes de Demoiselles. Because it is very low season for tourists we had a privite tour and got to hear music in the central cavern called the cathedral. It was huge and had amazing stalactites and stalagmites. The acoustics are so good that they hold church ceremonies and classical concerts here regularly. This region has some really interesting roman relics in betwen a market and a long lunch (ha ha) we were able to check out an underground warehouse built 2000 years ago to store wine and oils. It was a museum, but could still be used today it was so well crafted. The exposed stones on the ancient roman superhighway that runs through Norbonne were good too.

Its Easter and for Albertans used to mostly snow still on the ground, or brown at best, it is post-card spring outside. Daffodils and irises are in bloom, the trees are budding or are full of blossoms, baby lambs in the fields, and we even got to do an egg hunt outdoors today. Neve paid her allowance for the privilege of walking a lamb on a leash, James learned how to steer a go-cart down a hill. Chocolate eggs are really tasty here...Life is good.


Posted by Arin MacDyer 12:35 Archived in France Tagged food arin Comments (5)

paris (with a french accent)

overcast 5 °C

We are now in Paris. For the first time in three months we are experiancing cold weather. When we first got here we still had to wait in the airport for 3 hours. We were waiting for our grandparents when they finally got here. We still had to find a taxi for 6 poeple and then drive off to our hotel. But when we got here i noticed it wasint a hotel it was a rental house. On our second day we went to the Louvre it is the bigest museam in the world. It was so big that me and Neve did only a couple of the exibits (including the Mona Lisa). On our second day we went on a boat ride to the eiffel tower the catheidral of Notre Dame and the kids natural history museum. The next day we went to the top of the eiffel tower. Me and neve and daddy walked all the way down from the 2nd level and beat my mom who was in the elavator. And yesterday our parents went to the catacombs. (The catacombs is a long tunnel lined with the bones of the people that they dug up from overflowing grave yards).

My favorite part of Paris was when we ran down from the second floor of the eiffel tower and beat my mom who was in the elavator. And my least favorite part about Paris was the one day when it was freezing.

Now we are leaving to Montresor and our house is 600 years old. We also have one bed room in a cave and tonight i am sleeping in it!

Posted by Arin MacDyer 10:58 Archived in France Tagged james Comments (2)

Last impressions of South East Asia

overcast 35 °C

We are on our final few days here in Thailand and will soon be flying onto France. Our two months travelling through parts of Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia and Thailand have really been a dream come true for me as i've always wanted to experience this part of the world. Culturally and linguistically it was the most different for the kids and hopefully will be remembered as a meaningful experience.

One night we sat down at dinner over a bowl of green curry and made a list, all four of us, of our favourite things in SE Asia. The kids loved the night markets and shopping for souvenirs. Snakes, and particularly the snake-man in Indonesia, made the top ten. We really really enjoyed our time at Bukit Lawang - the river, wild orangutans and macaques, and EcoTravel Cottages was definitely the nicest accommodation we stayed in. Travelling in Tuk Tuks in Siem Reap and visiting Angkor Wat was special, it is truly a wonder of the world. The Escape adventure centre in Malaysia was so much fun. Simon loved playing afternoon football in the park with the local men. I loved seeing orchids everywhere we went in Thailand. The food was wonderful in each of the countries (although James ate mostly spaghetti and Neve prefers white rice with ketchup), but we really liked dining on the beach in Ko Samet with the waves lapping at our feet under the table. Fresh pineapple shakes were only slightly more expensivve than water and beer actually cost less than water. Everywhere we've travelled people have been kind and friendly, especially to the kids.

Not everything was perfect, we were bothered by the pervasive air pollution in all of the countries. Probably a result of slash and burn practices and large numbers of motorbikes creating choking exhaust. The old white men hanging out withThai "bargirls" gave me the creeps. Elephants are revered in Thailand yet there are few left in the wild and the rest suffer the indignity of performing for tourists day in, day out. We wish all of the national parks we visited didn't have such denuded nature. We are definitely "templed-out", we've seen big grand ones to small shrines tucked into city sidewalks and even ones in the woods by the side of the road.

Some photos from our last couple of days in Thailand and the most beautiful waterfall ever (according to James). Look for him on the suspension bridge!


Posted by Arin MacDyer 05:02 Archived in Thailand Tagged arin Comments (2)

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