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Published: September 30th 2017
I popped into the Monoprix yesterday to pick up some water, and ended up waiting 30 minutes in line for it, as the store was super busy. For that kind of wait, I expected this water to be the most incredible, refreshing drink ever, and for the bottle to sing hymns in Spanish each and every time I remove the cap. It didn't. I want my money back.
Geo: 44.8913, 1.21502
Another garbage sleep ... this cough is something else, and the cough syrup is only helping the situation slightly. I realized that while the cough syrup isn't really improving my cough all that much, it could probably improve a lot of Spanish food - it actually tastes pretty good! Also, the room was hot at first, then rapidly cooled off, not making for a comfortable sleeping situation. Off to Le Capitole for some breakfast, seeing as how I couldn't find anything open anywhere else.
There was a vendor selling baked goods nearby, so I went to check it out - it's not the 5.50 I minded spending at that cafe, it's the fact that with the extra 4 euros, I was able to get a bunch more pastries! Some little old granny was milling about, and in her french managed to ask me to buy her some bread - I couldn't say no to a little old lady, thinking that she wouldn't be asking a complete stranger if she wasn't in need. She first gestured to some baguette, but ended up choosing a loaf of fancy bread that cost 5 euros! Again, it's not even the cost - for 5
I thought this display was hilarious, and that the caption at the top is especially true in Spain. And from what I've seen so far, also true in Toulouse.
euros, she could've had some baguette, a couple of croissants, and some other items. No matter, she got what she wanted.
I think I need to start shopping at jewelry stores in Spain, in the hopes that a beautiful Spanish senorita will sidle up to me and ask "Will you buy me an engagement ring?" My credit card would fly out so fast that you'd hear a sonic boom! Of course given my luck, she'd probably turn around and say to her boyfriend "Ok, now we can get married." It could happen! Some of you have heard my date from hell story where the girl invited an ex-boyfriend along, right?
Off to an Internet cafe - this place was garbage. It was a French keyboard, but the option to toggle to an English keyboard was disabled. And if you opened up multiple windows, you couldn't cycle between them. Pain in the ass!
I wandered around town, more or less retracing my steps from last night, and eventually ended up at Musee Agustins - it was free today, which is always good! There was a lot of Gothic sculpture, which is something I can't say I've seen much of before. I also can't
Having time to kill today, I wanted to have a nice breakfast at a terrace on Place Wilson or Place St. Georges - though not as big or famous as Le Capitole, both are somehow more intimate and yet more bustling than Le Capitole. Too bad everything was closed :(
say I was overly impressed.
Back to the hotel to pick up my backpack and say goodbye to Gonzalo - he's got to be one of the nicest guys I have ever met. He's originally from Santiago, but has been living in France for a very long time. Working at this hotel is a tough gig, as it seems like he works from early morning to evening, but it's all for a reason - he dreams of one day studying anthropology in Barcelona. Here's hoping his dream comes true, because a guy like this definitely deserves it.
At the train station - it's a long ride to Sarlat from here, because of multiple connections to get to this poorly-accessible little town. Grabbing lunch now was a good idea, because it would be quite some time before I could eat. The meal was sketchy, and it definitely made me look forward even more to having my first real French meal in a long time (last night's crepes don't count!)
Exhausted, I managed to nap 10 minutes on the first train - the beautiful French countryside was distracted me from sleeping any longer. There was a lot of waiting around for train connections
Normally I try and avoid chain-type places, but couldn't pass up the espresso and pain au chocolat for 1.60 euro at Le Brioche Doree.
... one stopover lasted for over an hour. I ended up at Souillac, where a there was a connecting bus to Sarlat. I scored a free ride into Sarlat's centre when the bus driver told me that he was going all the way into town, so I didn't have to get off at the train station and walk 20 minutes.
There is no hostel in Sarlat that I know of, so for the next two nights I will be staying at a chambre d'hote - a bed and breakfast. This place is phenomenal! It's run by Pierre-Henri Toulemon, and the house has been in his family for I don't even know how many centuries. Honestly, it's like sleeping in a little castle, because the exposed stonework gives the room an incredible ambiance. I felt like a King, with such luxurious accommodations!
Upon arrival, Pierre-Henri gave me a bit of history on the house and is obviously very proud of the place, and justifiably so. Though I was quite hungry and had no clean laundry left, so I did want him to wrap it up quickly so that I could wash my clothes and find a place to eat!
It was a very good little espresso, and though the pain au chocolat looked a bit dodgy (it looked glazed), it wasn't so bad. It was nice and crunchy, though it really shouldn't be that way.
laundromat, I ended up chatting with an American grad student from Arizona, Jamie, and her former French teacher from Colorado, Jean. Cool fact - Jamie's in Sarlat for 5 months to study cave paintings at the nearby Cro-Magnon caves. Even cooler fact - she spent one summer studying similar paintings in caves in Spain, though not at the Altamira site that I visited near Santillana del Mar. It was somewhere near Oviedo.
I came back a few times to check on my laundry, but the wash seemingly took forever. Luckily, the dry cycle was extremely quick, taking only a few minutes. At least the long wash cycle afforded me the time to pop around Sarlat's compact little old town to scope out restaurants, and also to hear an abundance of Spanish being spoken in the streets 😊 After dropping off my clean laundry back at the castle, I was in search of food. I couldn't wait to eat tonight, because Sarlat is very famous for one thing - foie gras!!!
Sarlat is very touristy, so I ended up choosing a restaurant on a side street, hoping that it would be a bit less touristy. I decided on a place called Restaurant
The other option was to eat at a cafe on Le Capitole, where a coffee, juice, and pastry cost 5.50 euro.
du Commerce and ordered a pastis as an aperitif - I've only had this once before, three years ago, but remember it's delicious and refreshing black licorice flavour (see blog entry entitled "A mix of Disney, baguette, fromage, and merde!" http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/europe_2006/1153739220/tpod.html )
Two local couples, or perhaps French tourists, sitting next to me nodded in approval when it was delivered to my table. Their words and gestures seemed to indicate "Good choice, this is very French!" ... but then they nearly freaked out when I poured way too much water into it "NON!!! C'est trop!!!" ("This is too much!!!"😉 They explained that it should only be a 5:1 ratio of water to pastis. They seemed quite concerned that I had disturbed the delicate balance between the two, but we all laughed when I drank it and simply said "C'est tres bon!" It just seemed so French how we laughed it all off, almost as if someone said "Look, the house is on fire!", and we all simply chuckled and said "It's ok, we drink more wine and eat more cheese, so life is beautiful!"
After the pastis was some ultra-smooth red wine, slightly chilled, and some nice and soft, cakey bread.
Le Capitole is over-rated - it's much too big and a little barren in the middle. The cafes and bars on the perimeter of the plaza aren't enough to generate a nice buzz throughout.
The crust was a bit hard, but otherwise good. The last time I was in France, I was actually on a tight budget overall, but splurged on many fine French meals. It will be no different this time - I didn't need or want to splurge on any meals in Spain, so I feel absolutely no guilt over stuffing myself again in France. Coming to France and not sampling the beautiful cuisine would be like going to London without seeing Big Ben, going to Paris without seeing the Mona Lisa, and going to Spain without drooling over the senoritas - it would be a mistake of epic proportions!!!
Normally I write in my journal as I eat, because I've got nothing else to do, as I have nobody to talk to, other than myself - but that usually turns off fellow diners, so I try to limit that. But tonight, all I did was eat - in the throes of such culinary bliss and passion, I couldn't formulate enough rational thoughts in my head to write a thing. The only things going through my mind were words such as "Mmmm ..", "Good!", and "Me like French food!" Positively caveman-esque! If
Though sitting at a cafe would've been more comfortable than sitting cross-legged on this parking barrier.
I lived in France, I would weigh 300 lbs. How can you eat such good food like this all the time?
Why can't the Spaniards cook like this??? Then I'd never again have to travel to anywhere other than Spain, ever again! It's funny how I find eating food in Spain such a chore, but here in France, it's an absolute pleasure. Perhaps I need to live on the Spanish side of the Spain/France border, so that I can just drive over to France for dinner.
The service was also top-notch - a few times I caught other wait staff looking over me, and immediately informed my waiter if my plate was ready to be cleared, or if it appeared that I needed anything. I can't say it was the perfect meal, but it was getting there - I think a perfect meal would be beyond comprehension, and I'm not even sure how it would be achieved. Maybe it'd be possible with a beautiful woman to dine with ... perhaps a Londoner, originally from Australia ...
So full ... I walked around a bit, but being small, there isn't a whole lot to see in Sarlat. Plus, the pastis and
New tradition - starting the morning with cough syrup. The breakfast of champions!
wine were starting to hit me - time for the king to retire to the castle for the evening.
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