Our first night in Venice, Kate, Mike, Neige and I went for a sunset walk. As we turned up one of the small canal streets we found people spilling out of the small bars with drinks and small bites. We stopped in for a drink ourselves and saw two old English men drinking a bright red drink. Always hot on the old man drink scene, Mike asked what it was and they said to ask for a Campari! We ordered two, along with some fish bits and other deliciousness on pieces of tiny toast. We took out place on the canal and had a sip. They were DISGUSTING!!! It was bitter and strong and totally nasty. Mike even said, “I cannot put this in my body!” I took them in the English guys and told them we had barely had any and they should drink them. I explained that we really didn’t like them and weren’t going to drink them. “Just take one more sip,” they said. I was reluctant, but took one more and it was better! That’s you getting drunk. They grow on you. I walked out of there happily with my Campari in hand and sipped it as we walked the streets that evening.
Mike’s first sip of Campari (also called Venetian spritz) followed by his response!
In the following three days, Campari was my drink of choice and Kate and I would even get them in plastic cups, so we could walk around and day drink.
I tell the Campari story because this is exactly how I feel about our last place.
We booked a tiny studio with a view in the area of France that we have idealized for some time now. It was near a town called Rennes le Bains and there was definitely some hot hippie shit going on there. It feels a lot like northern California, but in France. Perfect!
When we got there, the woman explained some things we already knew…the kitchen was outside — fine. The bathroom and shower are not in the house — knew that too. However, there were some surprises. Not only were the shower and bathroom not inside, they were at least 50 meters from the house, the bathroom (outhouse) was down a hill that had a treacherous five foot drop in one area and the outdoor kitchen only had cold water. It took a a minute to get used to, but it was fine. We were happy. We moved our stuff in and immediately noticed many ants running around on the floor. We were a little weirded out especially because Neige is now old enough to be squirming around and she loves to hang out on the floor where she has free reign.
Neige on the ground of the little place
As it got dark that night, Mike went to check email and do some business while I hung out with the baby in the fading light. It was at this time that I saw the largest spider I’ve ever seen. I have seen some large water spiders in Seattle, but this one was bigger, hairier and literally 1/4 the size of Neige’s face. I couldn’t shake the image of it on her and I was freaked out!
When Mike got back, we discussed our situation, should we sleep in the camper van instead? Should we just leave? We clearly would not be staying the three nights that we booked, so Mike went back to the area on the property (also 200 meters away) that got wifi and booked us in a different airbnb. We were leaving in the morning.
We realized we aren’t the travelers that we used to be, we need certain conveniences, we aren’t 25 anymore and we have a baby. It was shocking and empowering and a little sad, but it was true.
Then, two things happened…first, the airbnb that Mike had tried to book turned out not to be available. Second, the starts came out and the sky was so big and they went all the way down to horizon that it felt like we were floating on top of them. At night when I went outside to to pee, it was magical. I didn’t hate it at all!
So, we stayed. At night, the ants slept too, so it was no problem. Before it got dark, we checked the house for spiders and we made sure that all cooking was done before dusk. When it was hot in the afternoons, I would do washing with warm water carried from the solar shower 50 meters away and when Neige needed a bath, we’d do the same. It was no 5 star hotel, but it was beautiful and quiet and unlike any other place we’ve paid money for.
Neige needed a bath, Lunch in Rennes le Bains
During our stay there, we were able to explore the area too. We went to Rennes le Bains and Rennes le Chateau, both cute little towns, the latter completely overrun with hippie crystal shops and magic cards. We went to organic grocery stores and drove around the region in the sun. It was lovely. When we left, I was even a little sad, so I guess the moral of this story is we do still have low standards or maybe we can just still adapt :)