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Showing posts from January, 2011

Bordeaux II

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28 August

After ten glorious hours of sleep, I woke up early on the 28th to get a good start on the day with a visit to a nearby market before my 10 AM wine tasting at the Ecole du Vin (literally, wine school), just across the street from the Office de Tourisme, both conveniently located a few blocks from our hotel off of the Place de la Comédie.


There were colorful painted cows all over the city, clearly a part of an urban art project, like the crabs in Baltimore a few years ago.  I'm not sure cows in Bordeaux is quite as fitting as crabs in Baltimore (though I did see a lot of huge cuts of beef on the menus all over town), but I appreciated the artistry and the silly decoration amid the austere stone facades.  This one marked, fittingly, a Spanish restaurant:

Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos at the wine tasting.  But then, did you really want to see more pictures of glasses of wine I drank?  I took plenty of notes, though, in addition to getting a couple of stellar litt…

Bordeaux I

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27 August

Often when I left a city, I was sorry I didn't have more time there because there was so much more I wanted to see and taste and experience.  Not so in Carcassonne - I was very much ready to get out of the heat and the empty streets and see a new place.  But Carcassonne wasn't done with me yet... remember how, way back two weeks earlier in Aix, my luggage had broken, and then a couple days later in Lyon, I had bought new luggage?  As I dragged my two-week-old bag towards the Carcassonne train station... the wheel broke.  The same way the previous wheel had broken.  $#@*!.  Okay, got it, lesson learned - never buy shitty luggage when in the middle of a trek across cobblestoned streets.  Don't say I never gave you any good advice.

When we finally made it to the train, we had a direct ticket to Bordeaux.  Part of the way, we shared the ride with some of France's finest.

We got into Bordeaux around 2 pm.  Unlike most of the cities we stayed in where we were stayin…

Carcassonne II

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26 August

We got up early on 26th so we could explore Carcassonne's Cité before the teeming masses of tourists showed up in the sweltering heat of afternoon.  I've talked for a while now about the fortified city on a hill that attracts so many tourists each year; here was our first glance at its ramparts and turrets:


La Cité was built in the 13th century on the remains of a Roman fortress on the Aude river.  At the time, Carcassonne was the site of a crusade against heresy, and the battles completely destroyed the town at the bottom of the hill.  In its place, the perfect perpendicular streets of la Bastide were planned by Saint Louis (aka King Louis IX), and remain today in contrast to the haphazard wending ways of so many streets in towns across France.  La Cité was restored by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century, who added on inauthentic upside-down ice cream cone roofs to the turrets that seem to us today so fitting for a medieval castle.

On the way up the hill to the Cité,…