Saturday, April 21, 2007

France: Toulouse, Carcassonne, Montpellier, Sommières...

We've just arrived in Lucerne, Switzerland, and we plan to stay here for three days before heading down to Interlaken and the Jungfrau region for another two days. This is a change from our original plan because we've been moving so fast that we haven't had any time to stop and enjoy these places. So, we've decided to bail on Venice. Shame, but oh well.

After returning the rental car in Cordoba, we caught the fast train back to Madrid and flew to Toulouse, France. Somewhere in between a baggage handler who either likes or dislikes Australia cut Mai Li's securely stitched Australian flag from her pack, leaving a bare spot bordered with frayed threads. We arrived at night and were booked into a nice little hotel, but wandering the streets was a bit dodgy. We were followed at least once, and I reckon twice.

We picked up a car the next day and drove to Carcassonne, about an hour out. This was one of the most memorable stops so far -- a 13th century fortified city. We stayed within the city walls, and had great food for dinner -- cassoulet, a regional specialty. We also picked up a bottle of absinthe, complete with slotted spoon and sugar cubes, but haven't got stuck into it, yet.

What was next... it's all a blur... we tried to get to Montpellier, but driving in these European cities can be a nightmare. We tried to follow signs to hotels and they just led us out of the city, so we said "screw you, Montpellier!" in slightly more colourful language and spent the night in some crappy suburban motel. When we get to the little medieval town of Sommières the next morning, not thirty minutes away, we discovered they'd had the annual bull run through the streets the evening before, which would have been brilliant. Still, tough to beat a crappy suburban motel.

Next chapter: Avignon, the l'Ardeche, Lyon....

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