Tuesday, May 1, 2007


We drove to the Mediterranean Sea, only about 1.5 hrs away. We went to Narbonne Plage (beach)– the sand was so soft, the water was a tad cool but not bad. I had to get my feet wet. We spent awhile walking along the beach. I will have to go back when it gets warmer to do some actual swimming.

We had a long lunch. I wasn’t quite sure what I ordered but took a chance. Ended up it was a plate of cold shellfish – Langastino lobsters, shrimp, raw oysters, mussels, and something that looked like snails but was a sea creature. I tried some of all of it – oysters were so-so and the mussels were yucky but everything else was quite tasty.

The road coming into Narbonne Plage has amazing views. You can see the village and ocean as well as the vineyards on the surrounding hills. The drive from the plage to city is pretty incredible as you can see.

Then we drove into Narbonne. Interestingly the city used to be on the Mediterranean but the sea has receded and it is now about 10 km inland. After some difficulty we made it to the cathedral in Centre Ville (city center). We first walked through the cathedral – large Gothic style. I took a ton of pictures. This is a picture of the cloister from ground-level.

Then we walked the 120-odd spiral stone steps to the donjon. I was slightly dizzy and my calves were quivering when we made it to the top. But the view was worth the 2 Euros.

I have friends in other parts of Europe that would be fun to visit, but I think I will concentrate on seeing France well while I’m here. There’s so much just in the region I’m in. So many things are just a few hours drive away. There are so many unknowns with work still that I will take things as they come and not make any long range plans. It has been a very different experience for me, but one I am learning to go with.
The foraging for food is getting old as our hotel is not in a hot spot. We ate at the mall 3 times for dinner last week because it is the only place within a reasonable walk. I am really looking forward to getting into the apartments and getting to know that village.
Ah yes, had the joy of using a public WC (water closet, toilet) in Narbonne Plage – a hole in the ground. Just like in Moscow. Gotta love it. Actually, gotta get some hand sanitizer to carry with me, I already pack tissue. The other odd thing is that a trash can is hard to find in public places like hotel lobbies. I guess it’s that they are a service oriented culture, but I’d prefer to toss my gum myself than leave it on a table to let a worker get it. And don’t even think about serving yourself at a buffet. There are quirks to get used to. But you should see the wisteria and lilacs – beautiful. And there’s wild rosemary everywhere.

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