Monday, May 7, 2007

Le Weekend

Saturday did much to buoy my spirits. We drove down to Carcassone. An absolute must see if you’re ever in southwest France. La Cite is a walled medieval city that was restored in the 1800s by Viollet-le-Duc. The first settlement there was about 500 BC was built up over centuries to the heyday in the 1200s. There are about 80 who still live within its walls but the rest of the 45, 000 residents live below. You can tour La Cite. Within the walls are a number of souvenir shops, restaurants, and 2 hotels. There is also the ancient castle, cathedral and ramparts. We walked all through it and even down the hill on the back side wall, I took about 50. The views from La Cite and views of La Cite are incredible. I’d show you pictures but my card reader has decided to quit. Grrr. Soon hopefully I’ll figure something out.

The cathedral is Gothic in style and although smaller than the other ones we’ve visited, the stain glass windows were some of the prettiest. It’s amazing to think that the church used to be the biggest patron of the arts. In the medieval age, it was the church who funded artists. There were true craftsman who also built these beautiful places of worship. It’s hard to imagine how they built all these intricate and large buildings without the modern engineering tools.
The castle is quite sprawling with many adds ons and changes over the centuries. We took a self-guided tour of the castle and then a guided tour of the ramparts. An interesting side note: the final scenes of Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood movie were shot here. It has been my favorite place we’ve been so far. It was a cold, windy, grey day. We were chilled to the bone when we finally finished. It was quite windy walking the ramparts. But it was worth it.
I was able talk to my parents and sisters. It was much needed contact with home.

Random thoughts:
-I saw a full moon from a school bus. Good to know teenagers are the same everywhere. Our precious Arise kids would never do something like that I’m sure.
-Sarkozy was elected French president on Sunday. It will be interesting to see how things change. He’s considered the "conservative" candidate. US "conservative" and French "conservative" are not the same thing.
-Nutella: who needs peanut butter when they have this chocolate hazelnut spread?! I’m in heaven.

I braved going to church by myself Sunday. I found it online - Toulouse International Church. They have a service in English in the morning – there were about 70 in attendance. In the afternoons they have a French service that about 20 attend. They were friendly. A true international congregation – English, South African, French, American, Scottish. A contemporary service, though the songs were older. The teaching was good. They had 2 baptisms and a "bring & share" dinner (potluck) afterwards that I was invited to stay for. I got my first double cheek kiss greeting from a sweet South African woman. I was somewhat surprised by how many children there were. Most were families, but they had a handful of teens and some young couples.

Some of you will be happy to know that I did watch Pimp My Ride today though an odd combination- Pimp My Ride UK on German MTV. They show the regular MTV shows in English with German subtitles. At the apts I have very few choices for English TV – BBC World (news) and CNN World. And then German MTV has some things in English and there is a movie channel that if it’s an American movie it’s in English but they also show French movies so it’s hit & miss. Not that I watch much tv. I do have to say Pimp My Ride UK was about some of the worst telly I’ve ever watched. Totally cheesy with a host named "Westwood" who must be some British rapper but he’s more like an old Vanilla Ice wanna be. I must admit, I’m more of a Chip Foose and Overhaulin’ kind of girl.

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