Published: July 29th 2012July 29th 2012
So after two days in Toulouse, wandering around and seeing the sights, I made my way to Carcassonne. It was a quick train ride in a TGV (train à grande vitesse -- means fast train!) and I arrived in the city. I made my way to the tourist office kiosk to ask how to get to the hostel, and I was given a map, directed to the nearby bus stop with instructions to take the #4, and was asked where I was from. They seem to do this at all the tourist offices here. When I mentioned that I was from Canada, they asked if it was the French part? What a compliment! (Don't worry, later that day when I asked for more info at another office in town, they asked if I was from English Canada. :( Oh well.)
I made my way to the Cité Médivale, entered through the drawbridge, and found my way to the hostel, no problem. It was a bit difficult to make my way through the throngs of people, as they don't seem to stay to the right or get out of your way, even when you're wearing two big backpacks and carrying a bag. :(
The hostel let me leave my bags in their luggage room (as I was too early for check-in), and I dumped my stuff and wandered around. I discovered that I could get a discounted rate to enter the castle with my OTC (teacher) card, so I was glad I brought it along! I took lots of pictures all over the place, inside the castle, outside the castle, in front of the castle, and looked in some of the stores. Later, after I checked in to the hostel, I made my way down to the other part of town, across the river. I walked around, bought dinner, and had a nice time photographing the Cité from below with the bridge, le Pont Neuf, in the foreground. I made my way back to the Cité and heated up my food. I met a couple of English blokes (seems fitting to use that word) who invited me to sit with them while I ate. They were quite young, but quite amusing, and it was nice to talk with other travellers. Finally, I decided to go upstairs, grab my camera, and try and get some night shots of the Cité. I think I did okay, but I'll wait and see how things turned out once I get the photos on a larger screen. :) It was after that, near midnight, when I discovered that I had left my pyjamas at the hostel in Toulouse. It was too late to call them, so I sent an email, asking if they had found my clothes. I didn't hold out much luck.
The following day, I decided to rent a bike and ride along the Canal du Midi. I wasn't feeling all that well, as my allergies had been bothering me for a few days now, but I thought, what the heck? It's probably the only time I'll get the chance to do this. I ended up paying 15 Euro for a half-day rental and found that the bike path along the canal was extremely bumpy! I ended up riding 10km one way, before turning around and heading back. I think I may have bruised my sitting bones a bit. :S
I found something to eat, looked around the shops with thoughts of possibly buying something comfortable to sleep in, and discovered that there was a "rock 'n roll" concert on that evening in the square for free! I made a mental note of the time, and headed back to the Cité with the intention of sleeping as my allergies were certainly getting the best of me.
I dozed off in my room, and got up with enough time to head back to the other part of the city (25 min. walk) in search of new pjs. The hostel in Toulouse had answered my email with the demise of my lost pjs. I wasn't surprised, but a little disappointed, since I was heading back there the next day. I rushed off to the shopping area, bought some comfy shorts, and went toward Monoprix to get something to eat. I passed by a crêpe place too, and got a nutella crêpe to eat. Probably not the smartest thing before dinner, but who cares? I'm on holiday! Inside Monoprix, I bought a baguette and a can of pop, and went to sit down at the square to wait for the concert. While eating, I discovered that there were a few other sites I hadn't seen in that part of the city, so I wandered around a bit and took more photos.
When I returned to the square, the concert had just started. The band, Monkey Business, was half rockabilly-half psychobilly. They weren't too bad, but I was surprised that no one was dancing! I had heard that rock 'n roll dancing (aka boogie woogie) was big in France, but no one was dancing at all. I was a little disappointed. When the first drops of rain started to fall, I decided to start my long walk back to the Cité. Good thing too, because it was a massive thunderstorm overhead! There was lots of lightning (which worried me a little) and a huge downpour at one point. Glad I'd brought my umbrella along! That was more than enough excitement for me for one night. Back at the hostel, I decided to do my second load of handwashing, my dark t-shirts. While I was booked in a 6-bed dorm at the hostel, I ended up having the whole room to myself both nights. I took advantage and hung up wet t-shirts all over the room, with the thought that they'd dry overnight. Not so....
I was headed back to Toulouse the next day, back to the same cute hostel near the subway station, and had to pack several partly-damp t-shirts into my backpack. :( Luckily, I was able to spread them out around my bed, and they dried quickly there.
I took a trip downtown to do some sightseeing, and then made a trip to the supermarket for some food. I decided to eat some fresh pasta at the hostel, and head back out downtown to do some night photography. Would have been smart to bring a map along! I found the Pont Neuf (which I wanted to photograph) and made it to the Capitole (which I also wanted to get photos of) but instead of it just being lit up, they were showing a weird movie on the building! It's hard to describe: images of rain falling, bubbles, traveling along the canal, dancing girls, weird. I guess I'll have to head back there!
Today was spent in Albi, walking around the city and checking out the fantastic cathedral. I spent 5+ hours there, and still probably didn't see everything. The tourist office has three walking tours on their map of the city, and I managed to see sites on two of the tours. Buildings with wooden beams all over the place, and the cathedral was gorgeous inside and out. The outside was huge with lots of gargoyles and carvings, and there were paintings on every square inch of the inside! All the walls, the entire ceiling, everything! A bit of sensory overload!
Tonight I'll head back out to do some more night photography, but this time I'll bring a map!