Au Reviour and Hola...
18.04.2011 - 18.04.2011
Hi All - I wrote this last night, but then couldn't get onto the web to upload it, so the entry is for yesterday....
A very intersting day today.... two very different experiences.
This morning – we left Toulouse after two nights (and one full day).
After Bernard and Anna’s dinner party, we were feeling a little under the weather.... so a late start to the day. Following breakfast at the hotel, we went walking to discover Toulouse. It’s very different to the other places we have been on our travels. They call it the pink city – the buildings are predominantly a pinkish brick originally built by the Romans, rather than the stone and limestone buildings we have seen elsewhere in France. It’s the 4th largest city in France (Paris, Lyon, Marseilles, Toulouse, Bordeaux) – partly due to a large student population and a high number of immigrants. On our meanderings, we forgot to take the camera, but being Sunday, it was market day – fresh produce markets, and flea markets (which Bernard informed us was where stolen goods are disposed of!!). We wandered through all of them.... wandered through the Jacobite Church (the first signs we saw of Moorish influence in France) and ended up having lunch by the river.... and our first Cassolet of the trip. Those who are familiar with French cuisine may be horrified that we waited so long to try cassolet (a white bean and meat stew), but it’s a regional thing, and until Toulouse, I can promise that it wasn’t on menus.
On leaving Toulouse this morning, (and with a quick pit stop to change a flat tyre) we headed to Carcassone – the largest citadel in France and one that was extensively restored over 50 years (1830 onwards or thereabouts). Really interesting place, not only is the citadel intact, but the medieval town surrounding it as well. Overall, the place is massive and pictures don’t really do it justice but some are attached anyway.
After lunch in the medieval town (rather than the newer town below), we headed south.... and with the Pyrenees in front of us (complete with snow capped moutains) and the mediteranean to our left... we crossed the border into Spain.
The change in landscape is really noticable... much more mediteranean... olive trees... and kind of scrubbier... rather than the very lush fields that have abounded throughout France.
We went firstly to the Salvadore Dali museum at what was his house for > 30 years (from 1930 onwards) until his wife (Gala) died. Then he left the house and never came back, so all the furnishings etc are original. Only the paintings have been moved to museums (and copies installed in their place) – except for those works unfinished at the time of Gala’s death. So apart from being on the mediterannean coast in a tiny village in a house that is whitewashed throughout and designed to capture the light (with mirrors and lots of windows) - I really liked it. It was kooky to say the least. Lots of “stuffed” animals (I don’t really get the fascination with taxidermy...) including a polar bear, swans, rams horns, a goat, cats.... and a lot of really random stuff... but overall it tied to his personality. Also a lot of dolls/maniquins... which Steve says is also common in serial killers, so I guess it’s good he was into art. The gardens were also pretty cool – large scuptures throughout the gardens and terraced with views of the ocean. Here are some pics...
So now we are sitting on the balcony of our hotel room, overlooking the mediterranean drinking champagne we bought in Champagne. Here is the view.