Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Coghills Go International: {Day 2-5: Montpellier}

In my last post, we left off where Phil, Mars, and I were boarding the train to Montpellier! Phil's actual conference, (aka the reason we were on the trip), was being held there. He would have had to travel by train from Paris to get there anyways. This way, he had some company :)

May 24, 2016
{Of our 4 train rides, this was the only one where we were first class. It was nice because we had seats that faced each other without having to share seats with anyone else. We had such a hard time staying awake though! Phil and I took turns sleeping, but it was difficult. We were ready to get to our hotel and relax!}

{There was a supermarket near the tram stop by our hotel. I thought it would be a good idea to get breakfast items because most restaurants didn't open until after we needed to be where we wanted to go. We got yelled at by the security guard because we tried to enter the store with our suitcases, so I sat outside the store, (it was inside of a mall type place), and waited with all our stuff.}
{As we began walking to the hotel, (it looked close on the map), we discovered it was an awfully long way to walk with all our stuff in the dark. Halfway to the hotel, I told Phil I couldn't walk anymore. He called the hotel who graciously called a taxi for us. It really wasn't much further, but from the point we had stopped, there was no more sidewalk to use. (It was all gravel!)}
{Even though that was a rough start to the trip, it did get better!}

May 25, 2016
{Our original plan was to wake up early and go to the beach. This would have required some creativity in terms of using public transportation, but we were up to the challenge. Well, we slept through Phil's alarm... and my alarm. So obviously, sleep was way more important! Knowing we'd get to the beach in Spain, we decided to just let that go, and have a leisurely morning :)}
{We did get bummed out because the fridge in our room where we put all our breakfast items was not turned on. This meant we lost all the breakfast food we bought the night before :( It was already close to 10 am, so we figured we'd just go to the restaurant I picked for after beach brunch. Phil got a ham and cheese crepe, and I had a nutella crepe. Both were very delicious!}

{We made our way to Phil's conference, and I started exploring the city! This was a fountain in the park just south of Phil's conference building. It was nicely shaded and had lots of benches to sit. Plus, it looked huge on the map, but was very walkable for a pregnant lady :)}

{This is Place de la Comedie. It's considered the town square. Montpellier was established in 985 BCE, and there's a spot here that is outlined in red marble, (an egg shape), and that was the original square in the center of town. It was breathtaking!}

{Another view}

{This is the Three Graces fountain. The statue was originally in the Musee Fabre, but moved in the 1980's when the opera house was renovated}

{The opera house}

{When trying to find things to do, I saw that there was a cat cafe in town! Basically, you get to enjoy the perks of a cafe, but with cats to cuddle with :) I thought it would be fun, and I found it pretty easily!}
{Also, the only other patron in the cafe was visiting a friend, and she is originally from Choctaw, OK! What a small world!}

{Sleepy cats :)}
{Most of them were sleeping, and I only became popular when my dessert and coffee came. One of the rules is not feeding the cats, so I became just as unpopular in the same amount of time ;) I did get to cuddle with the hairless cat the most. That was a little on the weird side, but nothing really icky. I just doubt I'll ever own a hairless cat in my lifetime}

{My cuddle buddy, Hayley}

{I just happen to come across this old observatory while finding the tram station}

{Back at the Place de la Comedie, there was a carrousel that I knew Jillian would love to see}

{Mars and I, if we ran out of things to do, would just ride the trams around town. It was fun, and pretty easy to do! I got so familiar with the system that I could tell you what tram line the car was just by looking at it, and know the direction we were going without use of a map by day 2}
{There were several ways to get passes, but we just got day passes every morning. It was cheaper in the long run, and worked perfectly!}

{There was an area of town where various neighborhoods would build up a part of that square. One neighborhood was called Richter, which happens to be the last name of some people at church! I had to take a picture and show them :)}

{Mars at the park}

{The south side of the park. There were always people sitting and talking/eating any time I came by. There was also a playground on the other side of the walkway. (I didn't take a picture because I didn't want to be the weird/creepy person taking pictures of other people's children at a playground. No need to get arrested in France thankyouverymuch) All in all, it was a nice place to people watch}

{Anyone who knows me or has read this blog for awhile knows I really dislike birds. Like, a lot! So the fact that these pigeons are incredibly friendly made it a very uncomfortable situation for me. I just wanted to eat my sandwich in peace! I didn't scream or cry though, so I took a picture to prove just how close I allowed them to get. Ugh, birds!}

{The view of the east side of Montpellier from the entrance to Phil's conference}
{And yes, that is an elevator because there were a million steps to the top from the tram stop at the bottom}

{We decided it would be entertaining to go to an American themed restaurant. I refused to eat at McDonald's at any point in the trip, so this would be the most "American" thing we'd do. It was a 50's themed diner, and I thought it was funny that all the burgers had American Flag toothpicks in them! It was delicious, but did not taste like diner food in the States. That's ok, I still cleaned my plate :)

{We picked this fun dessert to get. Plus, I knew my mom would appreciate it ;)}
{It was different, but a yummy treat!}

May 26, 2016
{We had a short morning together, but had an area of town Phil wanted to see with me. So off we went!}
{There is lots of street art in Montpellier, and I was excited to finally find some! (Everything I found about the street art never mentioned where it would be. I guess finding it is half the fun? Unless you're on a schedule like me, then you just want to know! LOL)}

{This used to be a chapel with a hospital next to it. Now it's a chapel that houses a choir. I'd love to rehearse in a place like that!}

{Street art on the way to...}

{We have lots of pictures from the inside, but figured that would get redundant because we went to several churches on our trip. (I'm a sucker for old churches and stain glass windows)}

{It was beautiful on the inside, and we got to hear the organ play a bit! This is the only cathedral in Montpellier, and it was neat to just think about all the history this place has seen! Plus, it's attached to...}

{The Faculty of Medicine! This is the oldest medical school in Europe, and it is still going strong!}
{They had a few different tours, none in English that we could go to, but we thought just being there was enough. Plus, it is a functioning university so we didn't want to disturb anyone}

{We both ended up using this bathroom pod, (for lack of a better term). It looks weird, but it was actually pretty nice! First of all, it was free. Second, you go in, do your thing, then when you leave, the pod is self cleaning. It even sprays down the floor! I was pretty impressed :) Plus, this is kind of the only way to use the bathroom in public. Otherwise, you have to go to a restaurant or other building}

{Phil had one presentation to go to before a quick lunch break, so I got a Nutella crepe, (surprise, surprise), and hung out in the park to people watch. It was near a school, so I got to watch teenagers interact in between classes. That may seem boring to most, but I certainly had fun :) Also, I got to see some kids playing on the playground. It made me think of my sweet babies, and showed me that kids in France throw tantrums when it's time to leave the park too HAHAHAHA}

{A nice lunch with my honey. It was fairly easy to find a sandwich I could eat, but I felt like I ate lots of the same thing. I'm not complaining though, because the bread alone was worth eating sandwiches a lot!}
{We actually did eat lots of street food so we didn't have to worry much about reservations or spending a large amount on food. I think it worked out in the end, and we were always satisfied with what we ate. I can't even think of a meal where we were disappointed in what we ate}

{I found a LUSH in Montpellier! Too bad it was closed, or I would have gotten a bath bomb to enjoy :)}

{We stopped at a store for souvenirs and saw these. Phil thought his brother would get a kick out of them}

{I decided to take a bus tour to kind of fill in any gaps of my exploration, simply because I was afraid of wearing my poor pregnant body out. It was nice because I was able to see the highlights, and discover what I could skip :) I wasn't able to get many pictures because it was a quick tour, but I have lots of mental pictures :)}

{Plus, it had an audio tour, (in English too!), so I got to hear all kinds of cool facts!}

{This actually houses businesses, but it's a beautiful reflective building in the Antigone district along the river. I thought the Antigone district was older, but it's actually a newer part of town}

{The Arc de Triomphe! There was lots of construction surrounding it, so I snapped a picture to show Phil later. We decided we didn't need to see it in person together like we originally thought}

{These sculptures are actually next to Phil's conference, but I didn't really notice them until later. Love the colors :)}

{After my bus tour, I headed to the tram station, and went to the Antigone district for a quick exploration. This is just a street lamp, but I love the design}

{This fountain is in the Place de Zeus, though I didn't catch its entire significance in the design}
{The Antigone district is really cool to see at an aerial view due to the planning on the architect's part. It's hard to take a street level picture to do it justice, so Google it sometime :)}

{More bike street art}

{The Polygone - which turned out to just be a mall}
{I paid to use the bathroom, (though it was very clean!), and I ended up making a bee line to...}

{a counter with treats. I wanted a chocolate eclair, but they only had strawberry. Then it turned out to be on sale as a Buy One Get One Free! So I ate mine rather quickly, and saved the other for Phil. It was really good!}

{Pac Man street art}

{This is just a building in the city center, but I liked the way the building was shaped! It looks like it's leaning}

{The park below the conference was preparing for a festival to celebrate Italian authors. I believe it started the last day we were in town, so I figured we'd miss it. It looked really interesting though! They even had a tent just for comic book authors}

{Walking through the park}

{This was just a sculpture in the park I kept passing. I decided I was meant to take it's picture, so I did :)}

{Phil and I made reservations at a pizza place near the conference for dinner. This was delicious!! I was a little surprised when I saw the size of the pizza, but the crust is thin. Phil and I ate those pizzas all by ourselves, and we didn't feel stuffed at the end! It was incredibly good :)}

{This is the Préfecture de l'Hérault - essentially the government building in town. It was just really pretty, so I took a photo :)}

{Mars and I shared an ice cream cone of Speculoos ice cream before we headed by to the hotel for the night}

May 27, 2016
{We had breakfast at our hotel and just took our time to reorganize our room a bit. We knew we had time and didn't want to rush. After making our way to the conference area, we grabbed a quick sandwich for an early lunch. I had a tomato, mozzarella, and pesto sandwich, and it was good! Phil got an American sandwich which had steak, cheese, and french fries in the sandwich. Different, but good as well}

{We had enough time to see the Botanical Gardens! It was created by the Faculty of Medicine college as a way for students to learn how plants could be used for medicinal purposes. It is one of the oldest botanical gardens still in existence}
{Admission was free (!!!), but parts of it were not available to see due to renovations. Overall, it was still worth it to see}

{We went through this little tunnel, and I just loved how old it was}

{Phil climbing the cobble steps on the other end of the tunnel}

{This is the oldest part of the gardens (which was established in 1593)! I was so glad we were able to see it up close! I believe it was a gated wall protecting a well}

{Another view}

{Bridge we were not allowed to go under or across. Yay for construction/renovations...}

{The old entrance. I don't believe these doors even opened, but they were beautiful to look at!}

{Mars taking time to smell the roses flowers}

{A beautiful little fountain in an area we were allowed to explore!}

{I love being with him <3}

{We grabbed another Nutella crepe before I knew I wouldn't get another in town. (That's actually not true, but I didn't know that at the time. Plus, BB-3 wanted it ;P) Mars was a sport and helped me eat it}

{I passed by this flower shop several times during our trip, and I just loved the colors! I mostly wanted a picture to show my mom :)}

{After taking a 45 minute nap, I decided to relax on our patio. This is the view from the patio into our room}

{And our view from the patio into the back area. The weather was perfect for reading, and it was quite nice to just relax}

{I got to read a good chunk of my book! Mars helped me :)}

{Instead of trying to figure out how to get Phil to the hotel, or me away from the hotel, for a dinner reservation, we decided to try French fast food! There was a burger place near the conference that Phil ordered from before heading back to the room. The fries weren't too terribly cold by the time he got back. It was a little different, but still really good! I also noticed that the Pepsi didn't seem as sugary, which I liked. I was quite impressed}

{We grew tired of watching BBC World as the only English-speaking station we could watch, so we channel surfed. We found an older NCIS, and watched for awhile. It was funny to hear "Gibbs" among all this French dialogue! We Skyped with the kiddos, and began packing for our next adventure}
{We truly enjoyed Montpellier. In fact, at the end of the trip, our time here was our most favorite! It's a beautiful, university town. It's just big enough that it offers so much to see and do, but small enough to feel like you're in a familiar place. Lots of good food, lots of polite and nice people. If only we could get a taxi in English, it would have been perfect! (Getting taxis without speaking French fluently is the hardest thing we had to do!)}

{Up next... Spain!}

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