Thursday, 17 June 2010

June 17 - Week One

Last week we flew out Abu Dhabi into Amsterdam and then on to Paris. All went well except that our bags decided not to catch the same fights. When we were finally reunited with our luggage, we boarded a train to Montpellier and then dashed from one train to another to find ourselves in Carcassonne some hours earlier than anticipated. Unfortunately we couldn't get the key to our penthouse accommodation for several hours so we were forced to sit in a bar, enjoy a Limou bubbly and watch the passing parade - with our miscreant luggage at our side. Needless to say, we coped!

We've been steadily increasing our French from half a dozen words to a dozen and a half words over the last week! Slow going. We've visited the Medievale Cite - 'cite' being a bit of a false friend as it means 'citadel' or 'stronghold' rather than the more modern 'city.' To get there we had to walk across the oldest bridge in Europe and noted the height of three floods in the 1800s. Gosh the whole Bastide (area where our apartment is) would have been under several metres of water.

We've partaken of the local dishes, visited vineyards, a honey farm, a cheese farm and the hippy village officially known as Lagrasse and unofficially known as 1968. We've wandered the cobble stone streets and snooped in all kinds of alleyways. After each tiring, but invigorating venture, we've come back home to be faced with three flights of very uneven steps - uneven no doubt through centuries of people walking up and down them. I wonder if I'm the least fit person ever to have taken the gruelling route to our rather nice penthouse.

Yesterday, with a pile of washing, we were confronted with a front loader dual washer/drier that had lots of unfathomable diagrams on it and several French words that left us shrugging. We found the manual that had loads of instructions - in French. So back upstairs - only one flight - to find a dictionary and then back downstairs to squat on the floor in front of the machine pondering and researching. Several hours later the machine ground to a halt with our washing, clean, but still quite wet. Ah well!

Food: Unsurprisingly the local bread is accolade-worthy. The restaurants and cafes have been a mix. Some of them ridiculously overpriced, some with absurdly bad service and some of them with okay food for an okay price. In all they've been rather disappointing though the local produce is excellent and preparing something at home is always rewarding. We've taken upon ourselves the onerous task of deciding which bubbly and which rosee are superior.

Well, I'm about to bury myself in a book I found in the apartment and have been enjoying - 'Salmon fishing in the the Yemen,' a great read so far. Oh, gosh, it's almost the cocktail hour - where's the Pastis?

Medievale Cite
Hard work in the penthouse

Medievale Cite
Europe's oldest bridge
Streets of Lagrasse
Medieval Cite
St Jean de la Gineste (vineyard)
Apartment pic
At the Fromage Ferme

Ain't I cute?
Fromage Ferme