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L'Appel de Mer: a southern Brittany TR (also Paris)

L'Appel de Mer: a southern Brittany TR (also Paris)

Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 02:18 PM
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This next collection will complete Quimper. Above: a heritage banner that was part of the L'Epee brasserie's adjoined historic arcade. That 'passage' was a veritable mini-muse, all under the hotel's motif stained-glass ceiling dome. Incredible fotos: a Nazi officer banquet with what seemed to be over 100 emptied wine bottles; popstar Johnny Halladay signing autographs for starstruck young kitchen staff circa mid '60s; Aznavour playing (what else?) chess; an old religious 'Pardon' walking route.

For a century, that brasserie-by-the-prefecture had been the hang-out for local intelligentsia. One was the beloved local Max Jacob, taken to his death by the Nazis. Cocteau later created this iconic sketch and it appeared inside one of the 8 glass showcases which comprised the above-mentioned historic display. Copies of the image appeared here and there across the town.

This Quimper performance venue was named in Jacob's honor. We saw an argument between two women on those steps. From what I gathered, one of them had gotten her days mixed up and had arrived a day too late to participate in an auction of that hall's historical contents. She was blaming the hall staffer for her own carelessness in coming on the wrong date!

The hall windows.

Quimper has a series of bridges across its two rivers. Some of those are lovely, centrally-located pedestrian 'passarelles'.

Those walkways have been adorned with beautiful boxed floral displays.

At the 'bric a brac' Braderie, one minute from our rental. A live cajun duo was performing.

Excited kids during lunch break on a school field trip excursion to Quimper.

Quimper mixes the old with the new very well, a nice balance.

Place Terre au Ducs.

A morning stroll there will be a peaceful one.

Fountain from same.

We spied what may've been an actual Banksy street art stencil close by this location. His signature rat icon was shown on a wall taking a selfie with a Go-Pro stick!

The town has an adjoined pair of free, peaceful urban gardens smack dab in the middle. One is called 'Jardin Retraite' (retreat), an apt name if ever. They are found one block north of Place au Beurre, which is creperie central. After dining on crepes, cider and gallettes, one may take a break in those gardens. The upper one features some of the best quiet benches. *Pro Tip: few are aware of the smaller, remote garden at the Music Conservatory east across the road=best outdoor furniture of all.

A couple walks their dog through the Episcopal Palace entry arch as an intrusive tourist points his Nikon at them.

Another friendly Quimper resident. He was playing a traditional 'bagpipes' instrument.

It is an easy one-hour walk from the gare down to Locmaria and Cap Horn. Place Stivel (as in the Breton musician seen in the above video performance) seemed to be a local hangout for young homeless beggars.

Travelers should definitely consider Quimper as one Brittany base.

She asks him, "What do you suppose will be next in this TR?" He responds, "I dunno. Maybe it'll show that pair of cruises, or perhaps those other daytrips? Why is there a fly on yer neck?"
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 02:42 PM
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Another group of awesome photos! Thanks, Zebec! Haven’t visited Brittany yet. Hopefully, we will make it here some day, and will visit Quimper!
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 08:37 PM
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Auray was among our daytrips. It is a small place.

One may rest awhile in its St. Gildas church.

We took a timeout there, then began our walkabout.

We were surprised at the extent of interesting street art, much of which was eco-focused. Another Auray church (St. Esprit) had massive murals depicting storks and egrets on its side.

Another surprise which awaited were the palms dotted throughout town, such as these on r. Neuve.

The famed cliche vista shot of the tiny, perfect harbor, as taken from the belvedere by Chateau d'Auray. The view shows the St. Goustan district, with Pont de Kerplouz on the far left. Benjamin Franklin disembarked at that exact spot on Dec. 3, 1776. He later remarked how the trans-Atlantic tribulation nearly killed him - he made several such voyages. That quai is named for him and his former guest house there bears a historical plaque.

Place St. Sauveur had no restaurants that were open or serving meals. Armoric brasserie shown above had a sports pub kind of feel and only junk food on offer. It also allowed brazen smokers so we left empty instead of ordering. Later, we'd eat at the 'Au Petit Prince' back near the main church. That was actually a p‚tissier with excellent salads and more. Inexpensive, family-oriented, unpretentious. A disabled guy wished us well as he passed. That kind of friendliness makes the travelers' day, yeah?

By contrast, we kept bumping into a tres etrange couple with hard-to-place accents ("Corsicans ?" my wife guessed). Whether they were married or work colleagues or ? was unclear. Upon noticing us at first, the gal whispered to the man, *"Mela mela mela." He towed around an expensive Manfrotto tripod and would sometimes smirk as I took shots using only our trusty beanbag to rest the camera on. One such arty shot was of this chipping paint above. *any guesses as to her meaning?

We also saw this nautilus on display in a glass showcase.

For such a small place, Auray had a wide variety of art.

That included kooky creations out front of shops.

This teen trio permitted us to take their foto.

Back to our rental just as the sun set. Next: Douarnenez

Last edited by zebec; Jun 22nd, 2024 at 09:12 PM.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 08:57 PM
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As always, enjoying another very interesting and entertaining TR from zebec !
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 12:19 PM
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Donc, Douarnenez ('earth island'). Known for sardines, Renoir, Boudin and once communist leanings. We liked Auray but we really liked Douarnanez. Tourism promo calls it 'the town with three ports'. On Tuesday September 26, our BreizhGo bus pulled into Douarnenez just as the sun was rising. We were dozy after a frustrating night of little sleep. A crowd of selfish young partiers across the courtyard from our rental had made PLENTY of noise indoors and out. On a Monday night yet. We even heard them through our earplugs!! Anyway, we made a beeline to the Port Rhu boat museum, which is located in a former cannery. It was half indoors and half outdoors. We were only interested in the latter, which displayed a wide range of vessels in situ, right beside a sizable modern marina. At the opposite end, Ile Tristan.

Ahoy maties! Please step onboard. This image captures the feel of the museum.

So much nautical detail to be seen.

The real deal that museum, for sailors, boat owners, repair crew, suppliers, historians, photographers, ship builders and fishermen. 'Memories of yore crash like waves on the shore of my mind.' (Lord Huron)

Artists would find much to sketch and paint there.

This being a shoulder season Tuesday, right at opening time, meant that there were no other visitors for the first hour at least. *seniors discount available on entry tickets

This staffer was joined soon after by his mates on the colorful black red-yellow 'Roi Gradlon' ship. That deep sea vessel seemed to be the visual centerpiece of the museum. Nearby was the 'St. Denis' boat from Falmouth.

Bunched sails with the aforementioned Roi Gradlon behind.

Life at sea has long been a feature of Brittany, both north and south. Some cynics believe that 'the two best days of a man's life are when he buys a boat...and when he sells the boat.' LOL!

'Give a man a fish and he'll eat for one day. Teach a man to fish and they'll dine well for the rest of their life.'

I'm currently writing a book with a quasi-nautical theme. That musical memoir about our old rock band quartet (named for a boat) needs a related cover image, so I was on the lookout every step of the way. Four men in a boat?

Apparently, a tombalo sometimes links Ile de Tristan and its chateau with the rest of town.

A more distant view.

Crew were at work throughout this museum. Here, three men examine the hull of the rusting old 'Scarweather' meteo-boat. It had a unique feature in the form of mounted lighthouse in its middle.

Thierry was walking his dog Gigi. He gave us some advice regarding restaurants.

Lulu and her friendly owner in the modern marina. He looked like we felt: half-awake from loss of sleep. Above him was the massive, modern Grand Pont bridge.

That modern section was packed with various craft, its available mooring spaces probably sold-out.

Detail.

A trio of reflections with a marine beat.



From ship to shore. Weird scene here at the Relais 'Clos de Valombreuse'. We entered, then asked front desk when their restaurant was open for lunch. "But of course, madame et monsieur, only just wait over there"', they pointed to an antique-filled parlor room on the side. We waited there. And waited. And scratched our heads, as no movement at all was seen from any kitchen staff. Finally, we inquired again and were told, "Oh there are no meals on Tuesdays." Huh? Why weren't we told that earlier?

Chimney repair guys (or roofers?) next to St. Michel church.

Douarnenez had some interesting street art. Its themes were telling. This mural was beside a building that had 'voussoirs', traditional curved granite lintels.

Classy artist Flore Betty's monochrome fishermen portraits were splashed (heh heh) all across her wonderful window display. Man, was she ever talented! There were many shops here who displayed artistic capability. For example, Betty's business neighbor showed their opening hours meticulously hand-drawn/printed across beautiful black slate.

Slate was seen across town. Three men in a boat?

If memory serves, this was a lampshade. The storefront next to this displayed some doctored fotos as part of their political critique of Pres. Macron. A bloodied, black-eyed Macron missing a tooth was shown having just been beaten and out-witted by his 'master' Putin. Free speech is crucial, but it also has responsibilities to be both honest and objective.

Port de Rosmeur is the area across and opposite to the boat museum. There are numerous restaurants there, just above the Quai du Petit-port and the adjoined Sentier des Plaomarc'h trail. We ate langoustines de Loctudy at the busy 'A Fleur d'eau' (water flower) cafe. It had a good view, even if the day grew hazier. Bus tour groups were being trotted about there. For dessert, we went to funky, quieter 'Bleuenn' (these spellings) Cafe, a very very good choice. Great treats and basil lemonade.

We had a lovely chat with this woman beside the flower-bedecked Sacre Coeur church. My wife is totally bilingual and that always is an advantage whenever we travel in France. We pity the fool that skips a visit to Douarnenez. Heaven for the boat enthusiast.

In small towns, taxis typically favor medical appointment runs for locals. We finally found *'Taxi Iza' to take us back from Douarnenez to Quimper. Our female driver also had a 6 yr old boy, Malik, in the back seat beside me. She first took him to the Pluguffan school where his mom worked. En route, I attempted to make conversation, "Vous aime rugby?" His hilarious response: "Je DETESTE tous les sports!!" *phone 02 98 743737

Last edited by zebec; Jun 23rd, 2024 at 12:34 PM. Reason: attacked by flying fish
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 12:45 PM
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The Soul of the Sea. A classic rock classic.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 12:50 PM
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Suggested related books:
1) The Horse of Pride by Pierre Helias. *thx to Michael for this suggestion.
2) I'll Never be French by Mark Greenside.

Next: the Crozon peninsula
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 01:23 PM
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Wow, Sir Z. You are making me rethink my 5 nights in Paris. Given the state of things, I'd be perfectly content to plop myself in any of these towns and hide forever. Love the history bits and your great stories! Merci beaucoup, monsieur.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 10:57 PM
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Me, too. Great photography. What a lovely and interesting region.
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Old Jun 24th, 2024, 04:31 AM
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I don't go to Brittany often because I mysteriously have no affinity for the region except a few places like the Pointe du Raz. However, I did enjoy Quimper 9 years ago even in my photos cannot hold a candle to Zebec.

Strangely enough, I was back in Brittany just a couple of weeks ago since I never give up on a province and quite enjoyed Vannes. And I was hoping to like Quiberon more than I did, but I fully understood how nice it must be to rent a place there for a couple of weeks. And Carnac! I had not been back to Carnac in about 40 years. Back then the alignments were not fenced off, but I understand the need to do so now. Still an astounding place, even in the pouring rain which is how I saw it this time.
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Old Jun 24th, 2024, 10:50 AM
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Presqu'ile de Crozon (aka Penn Ar Brad) or 'End of the World'

We'd bought our bus tickets to Douarnenez onboard the actual bus just before departure, and so assumed that the same would apply to Bus line 37 to Camaret.

Nope. The result was me doing an Usain Bolt back to the Quimper Gare Ticket window along with another passenger, a young man who was also not best pleased!
Luckily the assho driver waited, or at least finished his smoke right beneath the NO SMOKING sign, thus giving us time to sprint back onboard.

This ended up being our longest bus ride of the trip, 85 minutes through Turbie, Plogonnec, *Locronan, Plumont, Porzay, St. Nic Telgruc, Ploeven, Ploemodem and the ugly modern Crozon village before arriving in our goal Camaret-sur-mer ('testing of the bladder'). Note how many place names here began with 'P'. Actually, it was the letter 'K' that we most noticed elsewhere on place name signs on this trip.
We arrived as planned for the golden hour, allowing ourselves a couple of hours before rendezvousing with our Lanveoc-based taxi driver (another woman) for the ride home.
G.C Taxi [email protected] phone 06 33 72 06 64

The first thing that we noticed in Camaret was once again, some very good street art. That was not what we expected to see in a smallish port so far from Paris. An entire central alley featured framed and colorful individual pieces, each with its own distinctive character. Here is but one.

The town is known for its historic Vauban Tower (seen above middle) and St. Fodoria church, plus their adjoined Furrow Boat 'Cemetery'.

Those old boats have their own charm.

There were about a dozen such beached boats.

It was an interesting choice by authorities to leave the old shrimp 'fleet' in such a location, the Anse (bay) de Camaret within le Mer d'Iroise. Was it respect for tradition or instead a clever tourism marketing strategy?

Three of us serious amateur photographers circled this boat. I always try to be of friendly assistance at such moments, happy to share perspectives, tips or discoveries with fellow shutterbugs. But sometimes, we encounter a wordless unfriendly vibe, as though the exercise were some kind of bizarre competition.

Locals collect the seaweed shown here (fucus vesiculeuge) for their kitchen table. We collected that middle white object to serve as our new soap-dish back home.

The smell of the sea was strong in this spot.

Mrs Z and I split for an hour. She wanted to watch a choir practice, while I preferred more time around this inviting seafront. There were folks fishing on the pier, a distant military station across the bay at Point St. Mathieu, plus the Notre Dame Rocamodour church. Seen above, some white orchids aside a painted Madonna's robe. This church had a red door below a Gothic 'ogee' beveled arch.

Camaret was a lot of fun, one of those places where the traveler wishes there's been more time to visit. We made our pre-arranged taxi rendezvous with minutes to spare, breathlessly arriving back at the Hotel de France.

Here is where we must stop to acknowledge and thank hetismj, for their having months ago advised us to consider this craggy coastline on our itinerary. Merci for that excellent peninsular advice Heti!! Our driver gal started our scenic route home here at Pointe de Toulinguet. It had a fort, and a lighthouse tower.

This was our kind of day: a combo of local culture, something totally unique plus Mother Nature in the best possible lighting. Parc d'Armorique will please all visitors. Sigh...

Note the WWII pillbox up atop the falaise (cliff). It seems that the Tour de France recently routed through this area.

This is the remote surfer beach (?Kerseguenou?). Who in the name of God permitted those modern houses to be built at that location? By contrast, there a quite a few homes with traditional 'kribben' slate roofs throughout the rural region. That architecture also included numerous 'apotiez' (kuz taol in Breton) 16' stone extensions to the facdes of compact traditional 'pennti' homes. Granite drinking troughs or mortars from yesteryear were another feature seen occasionally. *see Eyewitness Guide.

A traditional seaside home in southern brittany.

This was the nearby folly known as 'Manoir de St. Pol Roux (pron. 'ruff').

This was great day, stubborn, smoking bus drivers not withstanding. Actually, at Telgruc that same driver had switched with a female colleague.

Heath, heather and gorse. The famed coastal G34 Hiking Trail goes right through this area and its marker signs were impossible to miss. Heather by the way, is also known here as 'bruyere' or 'erica'. Either way, its honey is rightly considered one of the world's best. In France, travelers may buy either the Spring or the Fall varieties - each excellent. Its a fave of ours from farmers markets. Apparently, its wood is used by carvers to make pipes and tiny tables.

Michelin rates the windswept highlight of this area, Pointe Pen Hir, as 3 stars. There was a sparse shoulder season crowd there. Here, one sees the wild, craggy coastline at its most dramatic. From here, the iconic Tas de Pois 'pea trio' outcrop islets were visible leading out to sea. We also went to Pt. St. Dinan.

Rugged and rocky, Pointe Pen Hir leaves no doubt that Brittany wazzam (was and still is) a place where travelers may hear L'Appel de Mer. Loud and clear. De Gaulle's commissioned War memorial was close by.

The Alignments de Lagatjar. Very very intriguing. What ancient rituals occurred here around these 80 megalith menhirs? Our driver/guide pointed out how one of the standing stones appeared to show a primitive map of what is now Corsica.

Colorful bluffs. Tres joli.

This pillbox was once part of Hitler's Iron Atlantic wall. Nearby was a memorial commemorating the Atlantic battle. As Heti has pointed out, close by this pillbox is a row of gigantic anchors, rusted and reminding.

Plage Goulien, a major surfers location.

This person braved the cold waters.

These nearby sheep were an unusual mix of black and white. Some were white with black tails and vice-versa!

Pentrez beach. Morgat was in the distance. So was a navy training ship. Travelers can also kayak, cruise and swim across the opposite side peninsula. There are great sea caves and beaches there. We took the D308 home, through Ploeven and again Locronan. Final fee=260 euros. Worth every penny.
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Old Jun 24th, 2024, 01:36 PM
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Heti is of course =hetismij2 - I messed up the spelling.
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Old Jun 24th, 2024, 07:17 PM
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These photos are spectacular and so atmospheric. You caught such wondrous lighting in so many of the photos. Love all the scenic shots. You have a good eye for composition. Have you worked as a photographer?
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Old Jun 24th, 2024, 09:12 PM
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Kerouac, moderator Lucapal over on the resurrected Lonely Planet 'Thorn Tree' Reddit forum wants to know whether you are the same person who used to post on the original TT. I assumed that you were and told him so.
Rocket, its always a bit of a challenge to fine tune one's itinerary, isn't it? Paris vs Brittany is a matter of personal taste, you can't go wrong.

*Once again, I want to recco both Ade's French/Swiss TR plus ANUJ's north Italy equivalent. We have bookmarked both.

Thx again Karen. No, I have not worked as a photographer but did do a bit of semi-pro travel writing on the side back in the '80s and '90s. Mostly small local newspapers plus one Brit mag. Those articles normally required fotos, but I was a raw beginner back then. I did in '96 try a year of selling my travel imagery at galleries, libraries and art shows. I had 3 dozen pictures matted and framed then put up for sale. All of them were sold except for 36.
Great tax write-off that year mind you. LOL! Btw, I was surprised to learn from your old post that your daughter left life in 'E' in France.

Next: Pont Aven
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Old Jun 24th, 2024, 09:39 PM
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I was just about to say you have a good eye for small interesting details, echoing KarenWoo. It was interesting to read about Locmaria. We have just had a German Film Festival here in Sydney and the film Kein Wort is set in Locmaria (about a dysfunctional mother-son relationship), so it was on my radar already, but knowing little about it before your photos.

When I was 19, at the end of a bus tour of Europe, I spent three or four days in Quimper by myself. Needless to say this was a long time ago now, when dinosaurs roamed the earth according to my daughter, but I would be keen to go back again and see it with fresh eyes. My husband also wants to see western France. Last time we got as far as Normandy and Rennes, and even squeezed in Mont-Saint-Michel. Next time we will go back to Brittany and see more. Very inspiring photos!

Lavandula
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Old Jun 24th, 2024, 09:47 PM
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Enjoying our TR, zebec. The Crozon peninsula is indeed a very interesting corner of Brittany. Camaret-sur-mer is a treat, and we spent a night there in an apartment with a beautiful view of the marina. This brings back so any memories from our time here - Cap de la Chevre, Pointe de Dinan, the cider farm in Argol..... looking forward to your Pont Aven photos...
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Old Jun 25th, 2024, 05:21 AM
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I may have told you this story before. Back in 1947, my father, a young man, was crewing on an old MTB as part of a harbour mapping project. In a hurry, the captain got her up to 40knots on the plane in heavy fog, to get around a headland near here, missed the sea and took her up the beach quite some distance. When the crew had recovered they all resigned and walked home leaving the Captain to sort the mess out.

Rather than a beach it could have been one of those cliffs.
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Old Jun 25th, 2024, 08:02 AM
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. Majority of the time my travels lead me to cities ( Paris, Madrid, Moscow..etc)
especially when on my own.
Thx for the lovely photos of places and people “ outside “…

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Old Jun 25th, 2024, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by zebec


Thx again Karen. No, I have not worked as a photographer but did do a bit of semi-pro travel writing on the side back in the '80s and '90s. Mostly small local newspapers plus one Brit mag. Those articles normally required fotos, but I was a raw beginner back then. I did in '96 try a year of selling my travel imagery at galleries, libraries and art shows. I had 3 dozen pictures matted and framed then put up for sale. All of them were sold except for 36.
Great tax write-off that year mind you. LOL! Btw, I was surprised to learn from your old post that your daughter left life in 'E' in France.

Next: Pont Aven
Zebec, yes, we had mixed feelings when our daughter and her family relocated from Provence to a Dallas suburb for their jobs. We miss France, but we can see them more often now since itís only a 4 hour flight from Boston. In fact, we are in Texas now and keeping busy taking our grandchildren to their swim lessons! And enduring the high 90ís temperatures!
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Old Jun 25th, 2024, 08:00 PM
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BB, I do not recall that story. Glad that you shared about that close call here. So many bluffs and cliffs there- your dad was fortunate that day!
Danon, I had not realized that they'd let you out of the Don Jail for (what was it again?) "chaining yourself to the doors at the Ontario Science Center over its imminent closure."
Seriously, we are Barcelona-bound for the first time this fall and would love to hear your tips.
Feel free to do that here, if you wish.
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