Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Reverse of the Curse of Collioure!

So my last 2 attempts to go to Collioure have not gone so well.  Last year when Meghan was visiting, the one day we had to go up to France, it was downpouring rain - I'd even go as far as calling it torrential.  The normal 2 hour journey took us closer to 4.  And it was pouring when we got there and somehow NOT ONE THING was open.  We had to opt for pizza and a quick run thru the rain and then less than an hour after we had arrived, we headed back to Barcelona.  Total fail.  But at least I was able to say that I took Meghan to France.

My last attempt was even a bit worse since it involved my car.  While Caryn and Urs were visiting in June we decided to hit Collioure on our way back from Provence.  Hit being the operative word apparently.  When a bus hit my car, smashing in the passenger side, upon our arrival into Collioure, I wasn't exactly thrilled.  And it was then that I decided there must be a curse upon Collioure!

And while I was a little apprehensive about making the voyage yesterday, I'm so glad we did.  The sun gods were shining on us and we made the trip in just over 2 hours.  Along the way we decided that if we had enough time we would also head up towards Perpignan and go to the Sigean Africane Reserve - a wildlife reserve smack in the middle of France.  We'd been a few years ago but it was summer, crazy busy and super hot - we figured it could be a fun side trip (and it was).

But first Collioure.  We arrived just around 11 and walked around for a bit, meandering in and out of the little streets filled with artisan shops, cafes and colorful homes.  We also walked along the water getting a birds eye view of the town from the jetty area.

Love the colorful homes behind the boys

And the boats are probably my favorite part of coming here

Family portrait!

Me, Liam and Meghan

A friendly moment among brothers

Do you see a theme with the boats?

Me and my boys :)

Many famous artists painted in Collioure and there are these frames placed in areas where those works of art were painted.  I think this "Aidan in a frame" will be worth something some day...

Josh and his boys

Walking along the wall to the church

Liam in front of the church

Aidan on the rocks

My view of the town from the church

This may be my Christmas card this year...

Look at how deep it gets in the middle!

Flowers along the building


Watching the fish

We finished up lunch and a little more walking by just around 2 and decided it was worth it to head to the Sigean Africane Safari near Perpignan, about an hour drive from Collioure.  It was a pretty drive and one that I recognized most of along the way from previous drives to this area.

It was refreshing to see that there was no line of traffic lined up outside the zoo.  The last time we were here, 3 years ago, it was literally a caravan of cars, bumper to bumper thru the entire park.  It took something out of the safari like feel that you are supposed to have.  Now with this reserve, the animals are actually able to come right up to your car.  They cannot leave their areas of the zoo - like the lions can't head over to the gazelles - there are borders that prevent them from leaving but allow cars to enter and exit and at the areas where there are dangerous wildlife, like lions, bears and rhinos, there are guards to make sure everyone is safe.  And in those areas, windows must stay up (something Josh was trying to convince the kids otherwise - thankfully they finally have chosen to listen to me!!).

It was pretty cool seeing all the animals right up close to the car and we saw a lot of babies too which was cool - baby giraffe, ostrich, zebra (OMG soooo cute!), bears and more.  And the animals didn't seem phased by the car at all which shows how immune they've become to them.  That for some reason gave me a little bit of a level of comfort, though when the ostrich was near those windows went right back up!
It's Pumba!

How cute is this baby zebra???

And the baby ostrich?

This looked like a zebra donkey combo (his legs were striped) - apparently endangered

Liam ran near the flamingos which just had one chain (nothing else) blocking them from the zoo - apparently that was enough because they stayed on the correct side of it... but I was a little nervous they might go after Liam after he scared them!

By far, our favorite, and most hysterical part of the drive thru the safari was the bears.  Right at the entrance there were bears attempting to mate and a few others just lying around.  If I had any beverage in my mouth, I would have spit it out upon arrival at that gate and seeing one bear on top of the other. Perhaps a "holy shit" might have come out of my mouth.  The boys were fascinated.  But the best part of the conversation went something like this:

Josh:  Hey look, two bears are doing it!
Julie:  Oh that poor girl bear, she looks like she's trying to get away!
Liam:  Well boys like doing it.
Julie:  Where in the world did you hear that?
Liam:  Big Bang Theory

Perhaps the boys have been watching a little too much tv these days!

If you could see the look on her face you'd see she's not a happy camper!!

Anyways, that was the highlight of our trip to the zoo.  We walked around the actual zoo for a little bit before heading back to Barcelona since the kids had school today and Meghan had to head back to the US :(  this morning.  But I'd say that the curse has in fact, been reversed!!


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