Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Canoeing and Tipping in the Aude

 Monday, we finally made it on a long awaited canoe trip. We have changed the date three times because of bad weather. 

Old bridge supports framed our back and forth movements down the river. 

We went with our friends Ray and Claudine who are into more extreme sports than we are, but they assured us this was a level 1 canoeing trip, just a calm ride down the Aude river in the south of France. 

Earl and I have limited canoeing skills. We haven't gone canoeing very often, and certainly not in areas with rapids. We have been kayaking on a canal in the past few years and of course we floated on rafts down a river in Massachusetts several times, but that did not prepare us for the canoe trip. 

The biggest problem was mostly the yelling between the two of us. That and getting stuck on rocks and having to get out on slippery rocks where the water is running fast to budge the canoe off the rocks. And one time, we did turn over completely with Earl going under the water because it was deep there. 

Tipping over
Although it looks like I'm leaning on the canoe to keep Earl from emerging, I wasn't.

The circus-type atmosphere did not prevent us from enjoying the beauty during the calm parts of the river. At one point we saw two blue herons take flight and crisscross above the river like a beautiful dance. 

Ray and Claudine would stop and wait for us. That's how they took so many pictures.

The water was low, so that might have been part of the problem as we got stuck on rocks. Earl and I were just too heavy and weighed down the canoe rather than skimming over the rocks. Surprisingly, there were a lot of important decisions to make as we paddled along the canoe, watching Ray and Claudine go before us. If they had a hard time or got stuck, we would try another route , but it wasn't usually better than the route they had taken. 

Ray and Claudine were much more in sync than we were. 

At one place, we pulled the canoes up on some rocks and looked at caves. My phone was tucked away in the waterproof container that stores important things on the back of the canoe, so I don't have pictures. But Claudine did take this picture of us before we climbed back in the canoe. 

 It wasn't far from the caves to the end, so it should have all gone splendidly, but as Earl got in the canoe, I pushed it off the rocks and hopped in, I felt a pain in the back of my thigh just below my swimsuit. Had I sat on a burr from the hillside? Nope, a bee sting. What are the odds that I would sit on a bee in a canoe. Very rare. Luckily, the cold water helped ease the pain of the sting and I'm not allergic.

We provided our friends with a lot of laughs as we meandered down the river, getting stuck, turning over, getting stuck again, going down some whitewater backward at one point. But we agreed that we would try it again in the future when the water level got a bit higher. 

After canoeing, we stopped at a friend's restaurant in Couiza. Andy is an English chef who has worked on Russian yachts among other places. Last year he started a restaurant right before Covid hit. We had been there once before for English roast, which is a Sunday thing with meat and Yorkshire pudding and lots of roasted vegetables. But we aren't English so it was hard to judge. 

Monday's meal assured us that dining at Andy's restaurant À Table, which means "to the table" or "come to the table" in French, is a great experience. It started with some amuse bouches, baba ganouches (like a humus from eggplant) and little potatoes with spices and a mayonnaise-type sauce to dip them in. We ordered the 19.95 Euro menu which included a starter, a main course and a dessert. But before the starter, first there was another amuse bouche of gazpacho.  

We weren't sure, so asked the server and she said we were supposed to drink it.
It had a kick to it with garlic, pepper and paprika added. 
For my starter, I had a poached egg served over spinach and a basket made of parmesan cheese.
The main dish for me was lamb plus gratin potatoes. I paid a 6 euro supplement for the lamb. 
And for dessert, a sticky toffee pudding with a side of ice cream. I hadn't eaten
sticky toffee pudding before going to Andy's restaurant, so I can't compare it, but
the first few bites taste like delicious brown sugar and butter. 

We left Andy's restaurant very full but delighting in the delicious meal. 

We might not be able to canoe very well, but we can eat a nice French lunch and return home for a nap with the best of them. 


Mystica said...

I like the scenery and the food more than the canoeing! I am a nervous Nellie!

Kiwi said...

Looks like a lot of fun, as was that wonderful meal! You two are good sports about winding up in the water.

Paulita said...

Mystica, I wasn't scared but the rocks were slippery. Guess I could have gone down.
Kiwi, Yes, it wasn't too bad, but we'd better take a class next time.

Noreen said...

Thanks for making me laugh! I mean, how difficult is canoeing, especially for the 2 of you? And sitting on a bee in a canoe? Only you Paulita!

Paulita said...

Noreen, I know! My life.

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