Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pentecost Weekend

Saturday I drove west and south to Lourdes. That town has a weird spirit about it. In 1858, a teenage girl experienced visions of the Virgin Mary in a grotto. So there are two churches built on the spot and people make pilgrimages, and street after street after street of souvenir shops. It’s hard to explain but the town gave me the creeps, even the lunch I ate there didn’t settle.
Then I drove south into the Pyrenees National Park. There was heavy, low cloud cover and light rain, but it was still really cool. I was up in the clouds when I stopped at Pont de Espagne (in French that’s actually pronounced Espan-ya as the “gn” is a “ni” as in onion sound.) I got to see the cascades at Cauterets. Unfortunately the gondola was closed due to the clouds. Some clear day I will have to return there or to Pic du Midi to ride the gondola across the mountains to get the amazing views.

Monday I drove down to Montpellier. I needed to see the sun. However the entire drive there & back “Vent Violent Soyuz Prudence” (violent winds, use caution) was soooo true. Montpellier is an interesting town, has a thoroughly modern section and centre historique. The promenade in the historic section has an Arc de Triomphe built for Henry XIV.

I then drove to Sete, situated on the Mediterranean. A neat little town with bustling narrow streets. Stopped near the marina to look around. Not much of a beach in town – just large boulders at the water’s edge. But the 15 km drive south of town along the water has a long stretch of beach. It must be crazy in July & August – parking is on the side of the road. Beautiful blue water.

It’s a short week for me. I fly home on Friday for a week. So I shall see many of you soon.

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