Saturday, August 06, 2016

Au revoir island monkeys

Up with the sparrows after the kind of a fitful sleep you have when you know you are getting up early, and very kindly driven to Ashford Eurostar by Pete for just after 6.00pm, who had been watching the Olympic opening ceremony and was going to go back home and catch another half hour’s sleep before work.

 Had a bite at the cafĂ© there before going to the platform and boarding our train. A few thoughts about the excellence of the Eurostar tunnel as a terrorist target before the train slid in, but luckily all was well. Soon we were zooming through the flat French countryside before Paris. At Gare du Nord worked out how to get to Gare de Lyon, a mere two stops on the metro, once we found the correct platform. Gare de Lyon something of a maelstrom of people waiting.

I went to a shop and carefully selected two of the worst baguettes in France and some drinks, then we made it aboard the TGV to Perpignan, along with hundreds of others. We were sat on the top deck, next to an annoying English family – island monkeys – for several hours. I was extremely tired, but fell asleep for a while and felt a lot better afterwards.

The countryside slipping by was beautiful. In between dozes I found myself looking at fields of sunflowers, rolling green countryside with cows the colour of set honey, then further south things looking even more rugged, and a bit drier. We got down to the coast after Nimes and saw glimpses of the sea and mountains. Finally we reached Perpignan, where we caught another local train which took us to Collioure, our ultimate destination. In Collioure we noisily trundled our cases for ten minutes to the steep lane in the old village and rung the bell. Luckily the owner’s pal was there, who rapidly melted away. Lorraine went off in search of some bottled water, and I enjoyed a shower. It had proved a difficult job for Lorraine as simple bottled water was hard to find in the lanes.

We sat on our balcony from which you can see much of Collioure, the sea, and mountains behind terracotta rooftops. It is beautiful. After a while, we went out into the golden light and scrunched on one of the harbour beaches, before wandering down along and sitting outside a restaurant where we drank some local wine, and ate a gorgeous tapas, including local anchovies, and ate the best squid I have tasted with frites. Lorraine was glowing with happiness, and the waiter was friendly and we got by on our French. Once you’ve had a good go in French, people here seem to be able to supply a few English words too, and you get by fine. A saunter about the lively streets before we came home, I popped out again and found a place to buy water. Then, thank God, bed.

Below, Lorraine on the Metro (where I encountered some traditional Parisienne rudeness from a woman on the train - quite a refreshing change from the usual British passive aggression). The view from our balcony. A few scenes in Collioure, and Lorraine being full of happiness in a beachside restaurant.

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