Day 53 - Thu May 26 St Cirq Lapopie, to Carcassonne
(Chris) After a nice sleep in, we packed and left St. Cirq Lapopie. It was stinkin' hot, maybe 90 degrees, and we were glad to have air conditioning in the car. After a quick stop at a local bakery for the usual, it was full speed ahead for Carcassonne, where we arrived by about 2pm.
Carcassonne is a giant old castle, halfway on a hill, that is now sort of a tourist town. It has 3 concentric circular layers of walls to repel invaders, with slots for arrows and bigger holes for boiling oil. These days it is chock full of restaurants, hotels, sweets shops and junk shops. Sort of like Venice but not as classy.
Anyway, our hotel was great, a really big room with kitchenette for E50, so we decided to go grocery shopping and make the most of it. We drove around lost until we stumbled upon Leader Price, a chain we first encountered on Rue Clare in Paris. Anyway, it was full of good stuff, so we shopped awhile, though when it was time to check out it was amazing... 4 of 6 checkstands closed all at the same time, so there were these giant lines for the 2 remaining checkers. It probably took 20 minutes for us to get out of there, and longer I'm sure for the people behind us, way up into aisle 7. They also have you bag your own stuff, which is fine, but if someone was busy paying and then starts bagging after being rung up... well the checker just stands there and waits for them to finish. You just had to laugh.
That afternoon we wandered around Carcassonne via Reeck's recommended walking tour. We had a very windy dinner on the patio, and then went for a longer walk, this time at night. The walls are all lit up at night and it's quite pretty. Then it was bedtime.
Day 54 - Fri May 27 Carcassonne, to Collioure
(Chris) This was our first non-croissant breakfast day that I can remember. We cooked for ourselves and had toast, cereal, eggs and strawberries. None too shabby.
The drive to Colliore was super-fast, 90% on toll freeways. I think our tolls were ~E13 for 2 hours. In a way it's worth it. We do get sort of bored with the driving at times and the car doesn't have cruise control. We decided not (forgot) to bring any CDs, and French radio is all talk radio or dance music. It's about 50% French songs, 25% older American songs, and 25% Gwen Stefani's "Rich Girl." I still like Rich Girl anyway. Another thing we do to pass the time is play the Twingo game, which I made up. It seems like about 5% of the cars in France are the tiny Renault Twingo. So when you see one, say "Twingo" to get a point. The other person has 5 seconds to say an animal that starts with the same letter as the color of the Twingo (of course we always debate the color). Anyway, Jen was initially disinterested, but has since pursued the game with a frightening fervor. Imagine trying to navigate somewhere and having 4 Twingos go by in about 10 seconds - crazy!
So Colliore is a beach town only 15 miles off the border of Spain. Picture red-tiled roofs, the med, a cool breeze and sand. Colliore has a great small bay on which there are 6 small-to-medium beaches. Our hotel is just outside the last beach, and has a great view for only E65 (again). The whole thing can be walked in about 15 minutes.
That afternoon we walked to one of the middle beaches that was sandiest and settled down to read. I had every intention of doing some swimming, and several folks were, but it was just too darned cold! So I read with Jen, and I was lazy with the sun goo, and now have a pretty hefty belly/back sunburn. Oops! But it sure was nice to lounge around without any kind of itinerary. Tomorrow is our midway point on the trip overall, so we are kind of having a mini-vacation from our vacation. It is sort of funny, we are constantly running from place to place and never really take any 'weekends.' But now we can just unwind, and the weather is cooperating beautifully.
For a little variety we tried Thai for dinner, and it was pretty good but more expensive than we'd bargained for.
Day 55 - Sat May 28 Collioure
(Chris) We just love Collioure - what's not to love? Thanks Reeck! We just stretch out and relax on the beach. It's about 80 degrees with a gentle breeze. I felt hot enough to swim today, for about 5 minutes 'cause it was chilly. Jen missed a big spot on her back so she's a bit fried. We did laundry, strolled for some gelato, had a decent dinner on a sundeck, and turned in. This is the first day I think we haven't touched a car since Paris.
This is the half-way point of our trip!