Thursday, April 13
A long day, but we hit our appointed rounds perfectly, thanks to Lauren's excellent French and navigational abilities. We were off and running by 8am, she saw her first fortress ruins at Puivert as we turned onto the main drag to Perpigan. The highlight of that road is Quillan and the gorges, slowed down by rock clean-up crews, a number of construction slowdowns along the way. But still made good time... took the Autoroute south, trying to avoid traffic at Perpignan but still getting a good share.
Port-Vandres was our first stop and really the highlight of all the stops in the area. An awesome fishing village, all grown up, but not too touristy, no crowds. We found a nice resturant with a view and ate in the sun (L has the pink to show for it) and sketched between courses. The Med was beautiful... wait til you see the pics!
Wound our way back to Collioure and were disappointed because that's were the tourists were on this sunny, warm day... we did a couple of loops around and left the area, decided we wanted to find a beach (plage) and through some miracle, drove straight to one... beautifully landscaped and free parking to boot. More pics taken but I learn later that my settings have accidently changed due to shoving it in and out of my waist pack and most are ruined from this point on. I don't leave the screen on to save battery life so didn't realize it..,RATS! Did note one woman swimming, lots of kids playing in sand, teens on Easter break, but not really crowded at all. The 'sand' is ground rock, few shells, but some interesting driftwood.
Did some more driving around and decided it was time to go home and at 4pm we headed in that direction. A few missed turns had us going back on country roads which were actually shorter in distance, but probably not in time. We had a few adventures along the way, the round-a-bouts are such a civilized way to direct traffic in large or small towns, and most are landscaped and feature big sculptures... such ambiance! We were back home at 6:30! Perfect! Lauren even got a little sun-pink to take back to Belgium!
Tomorrow, we will go to the marked in Lavelanet, and then kick back around the local area, taking it easy, sketching and w/c's... she's doing great, I'm so proud!
To Market To Market!
Stopped in village of LaBastide on the way... the Pyrenees were showing proud over a lovely park with rushing water and parading plane trees... an empty house showed wonderful possibilities for a combo gite (B&B) art gallery and studios, but that's the way day dreams go, donchaknow? The market was big but I didn't see my favorite scarf man and I'd planned to buy several more for take home gifts... maybe another market another day.
And then... I fell. Missed a step coming out of a little shop, my whole weight went to my knees, then my hands, then my face. Saw stars for a minute but knew immediately that I was okay, nothing broken, not even glasses, just badly bruised... the knees might take a few days to recompose themselves. I've put Tiger Balm on them and they appreciated, took some ibuprophen and am trying to keep moving as much as possible. Lunch was served to me upstairs... good friends in convenient places! Best to stick to straight chairs as getting up and down is a real pain, but doable. Hoping tomorrow will proved better as we head for the major tour, Le Cite' in Carcassonne, then deliver Lauren to the airport and wave her home to Belgium. We will be on the downhill side of our French adventure... it's going so FAST!