Trip Start Mar 29, 2006
232Trip End Feb 28, 2007
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THURSDAY, 6th July
FRIDAY, 7th July
The last two days had been cooler but it had started to warm up again. We had had enough of Felines by now. We hung around the town whilst preparing toleave and while Anne took some photos of Le bar, Le tabac, La cave et Le marche. I pottered around the garden and read, wrote and read again. [Did I mention the bike. There was a mud splattered bike in the garden on our arrival which I cleaned up and was looking forward to riding but the handlebars were sadly askew and I could not find the appropriate 'allen?' key anywhere.
Paul, the agent, came around just after 9am on Friday as we had agreed
After an uneventful trip along the auto routes we arrived in a very busy Perpignan and managed to find the station without a great deal of trouble. In France all roads seem to lead to the railway stations which are often like this one...large, imposing buildings at the end of a mall.
Just as I was withdrawing my docket from the car park ticket machine at the boom gate there was a rap on the window and there was a young man with a sign with my name on it gesticulating wildly for me not to go any further. I reversed into a blue, disabled parking spot and while we unloaded our luggage a girl with a clipboard filled in her paperwork and took the keys and my signature off me
We bought cups of coffee at the buffet while we waited for our train and also purchased paninis to eat on the way. Anne used the wait to make a phone call to P&D in Scotland. When the time approached we carried the cases down stairs, along a tunnel and up stairs (ds,at,us) to the required platform. Anne's injured hand precluded her from carrying so I had to do the porter bit. It took two days for my muscles to resume their flabby shape.
On the train we had a compartment to ourselves and our cases. It may have been a 1st class carriage but there was nothing to indicate it to us. We ate our sandwiches, read the paper and enjoyed the passing scenery...especially that part of the track that crossed the lagoon south of Narbonne along the sand spit.
At Narbonne we had to change trains (ds,at,us) into a two carriage shuttle...very 21st century. A smooth, fast run to Carcassonne like being on the mono rail in Sydney. More (ds,at,us) at Carcassonne station and a bumpy walk over the cobbles to the hotel. For the price it was one of the worst rooms we have been in. A grandiose old building but a tiny room with a view over the back roofs. Dismal wall paper and furnishings to match. I mean there's old old and there's elegant old. This was the former.
We did some emailing, posted a large envelope home and sat in the town square sipping tea. Anne couldn't help but comment that she was pleased that our last night was in Carcassonne because she liked that city more than any other in the region. We put our feet up in our little room for an hour or so and then strolled around town looking for somewhere to eat. There were plenty of restaurants and bars but most of them were in bar mode. The French tend to eat about 10pm or so I am told. [Surely it is unhealthy to eat a main meal at that time of the night. . .presumably just before retiring. Maybe I am wrong but it must disrupt sleep patterns surely.] We gave up on the side streets and settled for one of the town square outdoor eateries (the purple tablecloths group) which seemed to be doing a good business in serving meals at this sensible hour...7pm. The most popular dish was a plate of mussels and chips. I could think of nothing worse. Anne had duck again whilst I had an omelette...both with chips. [The term 'French fries' is a myth. Nowhere (except McDonalds) were we served anything but good old fashioned chunky chips in France.] We struck up a conversation with a couple of English ladies next to us who had bought properties and now lived permanently out here. Back to the hotel to watch TV. A concert in Berlin featuring Placido Domingo, a young man and a good looking (for an opera singer), Sarah Brightman look alike singing a variety of pop and light classical.
About 2 o'clock in the morning Anne wakes me up in distress. Her heart was racing in a manner she had not experienced since she had the first signs of a thyroid problem. She was really scared as was I. All I could do really was talk to her and get dressed in case I had to call a doctor. She had been awake for some while. Anyway it settled down a little but by morning it still was not back to normal.