Now, on to Saturday, September 15. We anchored off the Bretagne (Brittany) sea port of Saint Malo. Today was a tender day – yippee-skippy! We had a Europcar rental car reserved at the ferry port, which was allegedly right next door to where the tenders came into the port.
We hopped on one of the first tenders after the ship tours were done, disembarking and wandering through the maze of corridors in the cruise terminal. We emerged and looked for the ferry terminal. It seemed close, but it looked like we had to cross a channel from an inner harbor. We finally found the road across the channel, just in time for the bridge to be lifted for eleven (we counted) sailboats to cross through. We finally made our way to the ferry terminal and found the Europcar rental counter.
Monsieur Europcar Poopy-Pants at the counter looked at his watch and said that we had just made it, as he was leaving in one more minute. It was 9:30 am. Our official rental agreement said that the counter was open from 8:00 am until noon and again from 1:30 to 6:00 pm. Apparently, this clown has a mistress on the side, or was working three jobs simultaneously. He told us to just drop off the keys when we returned around 3:00 pm (hmmmm!).
We finally got our car, a fantastic manual four-door brown Dacia Sandero manufactured in Romania or some third-world location. It ran ok, however, and off we went, first to the famous Mont St. Michel.
I “nagivated” again and we found our way to this surreal abbey off the coast about 50 km east of Saint Malo. I had no intention of walking 40 minutes each way, then hiking up to the abbey (over 900 steps one way and/or nasty uneven, steep cobblestone paths littered with crapola emporiums), so we got some money shots from a distance and Steve hiked a mile or so down the path to get some closer pictures.
We headed out of the parking lot, only to find out that the pay kiosks at the exits were not working. There was no way to put in cash and it would not take any credit cards. Everyone else had the same problem. We double-parked near the automatic pay kiosks and Steve was finally able to pay, but the fee went from €3 to €8.50 because of this delay. Mont St. Michel: You can visit, but you can never leave, kind of like a French Hotel California.
We raced across the countryside in our Sandero, heading to the small quaint village of Dinan, south of Saint Malo. We found our way to the port of Dinan at the bottom of the village and parked near an area with many seafood cafes (the port is on an estuary that flows towards Saint Malo). We selected a cafe and had lunch outside, as it was a perfect day. Steve decided to be bold and ordered the Moules (Mussels). He got an industrial sized steamed pot of beautiful mussels for only €7 (about 9 dollars). He is still alive as I write this a day later, so they were apparently quite fine. I had something a little more safe, but I did have local mussels in Jacques on Marina on the second night and they were awesome.
We drove back to Saint Malo, dropped off the rental car and made our way to the tender. The tides in this part of the world are quite impressive and the long gangplank down to the floating tender dock was now at a ridiculous 30 degree angle as the tide was out (it was quite shallow earlier in the day). The new knees did fine, however, as I carefully walked down this long gangway.
We sat on our veranda for the first time as we sailed out of Saint Malo and watched the sailboat craziness. Many occupants of the boats were very interested in our large cruise ship and zoomed by with the occupants waving like mad. A beautiful place….
We ate at La Reserve last night, one of two fee restaurants with only 24 seats and wine pairings with dinner. It was fantastic, as good as I recall from our cruise last September. We had the Exploration menu: A scallop on a sizzling black rock, foie gras* en croute, vegetable and bufalo cheese risotto, Turbot and salmon in a rolled tower of fishy-fish goodness, exquisite chateaubriand steak, a Napoleon of Gorgonzola and pear, and a chocolate thingy with a spun sugar cherry lollipop and a tropical fruit sauce. Killer bee!! Our table mates were an interesting mix of people.
* We saw a fois gras farm near Mont St. Michel and the geese appeared to be free-ranging, waddling around aimlessly and quite content, although I am not a particularly astute judge of the emotional state of geese. The fact that the legislature in California found time to ban fois gras sales in their state when they are in an economic condition on a par with Greece says everything about the lunatic mindset of the political situation there..
Although I (and my knees) are doing quite well, this trip has been exhausting so far. We had a private tour set up for Sunday in Concarneau with six other people,that we had paid for, to several villages in the area. We decided to bail out of the tour late Saturday night, chalking it up to my lack of stamina. The other folks on the private tour were all competitive, skinny, marathoner runner types and I did not want to be a Wendy Whiner and slow them down. Steve is a true honey badger (he doesn’t give a sh**) so he was happy, regardless.
Next: Our day in Concarneau.