Blogs from Midi-Pyrénées, France, Europe - page 10


Europe » France » Midi-Pyrénées June 23rd 2015

This is the fifth ‘episode’ of another of 'our' travel experiences. * These collective ‘episodes’ (this being the fifth) describe our journey from our arrival in Paris, France (in the 2nd week of May) for a holiday. The fifth week witnesses our departure from Andorra to France where we begin our return to Paris via the Midi-Pyrénées. As noted in previous missives, our journey is largely unplanned - except that we decided to focus on the 'Basque' regions of France and Spain. As also noted before - we'll sort of go where the scenery and experiences seem worthwhile. This 'blog' begins the final our journey. Eventually, we'll find our way back to Paris to depart back to Oz. If you missed our earlier travelblog 'episodes' for this journey, here is the link to the beginning ... read more
Andorra scene
Grau Roig - Andorra ski field
Tarascon-sur-Ariège (via google)

Europe » France » Midi-Pyrénées » Saint-Geniez-d'Olt June 23rd 2015

(really in Prades d'Aubrac) Today was billed as the toughest of the tour, although I am not sure I agree with that assessment. Whether or not it is true, the day's demands (6 cols - or only 5, depending on how you count them - and 3100 metres of climbing) left everyone feeling uneasy and wanting to get an early start to the day, Breakfast at the truck stop we stayed in (seriously) was as efficient as could be: everything you were entitled to was delivered in a basket, so we were out of there earlier than anticipated. Last night's rain (there had been a terrific thunderstorm and downpour) seemed to have cleared things out a bit, but the threat of showers and more thunderstorms persisted. I figured they might appear towards the end of the ... read more

Europe » France » Midi-Pyrénées » Tarascon-sur-Ariege June 22nd 2015

(Really in Luzenac) In what is turning into a common refrain, last night my legs felt so good - in spite of yesterday's extra travails - that I was taking the stairs 2 at a time, whereas this morning I had definitely lost the spring in my step. Part of the problem might've been due to insufficient sleep, as I had stayed up late to get this blog all caught up (and still missed a few things, like the memorial to Fabio Casartelli who died descending the Col de Portet d'Aspet and the fact that my roomie crashed - fortunately into the grass and not the road - yesterday). At any rate, after a nice breakfast we set off upstream for a change, on the way to the base of the climb to the Col de ... read more

Europe » France » Midi-Pyrénées » Seix June 21st 2015

(really in Oust) Based on the research I had done before we left Ottawa, today was the day I thought would be our toughest (our organizer has given this coming Tuesday's ride that distinction, but I disagree; I guess in 48 hours we'll find out who was right). When I made that assessment I hadn't realized I would end up adding to what I anticipated doing, but that's what happened. Given last night's late meal, it must have seemed odd to have been awakened at 5:30 by crowd noise and music blaring over a PA system, but that's what happened to most people (I was given a reprieve until 7AM or so because I had earplugs in). It turned out there was a running race that started right outside our hotel, and as the day wore ... read more

What to do on a rest day? Sleep in (after having first woken early out of habit), of course, followed by a trip to the grocery store to forage for comestibles. As City Hall was nearby I stopped in to enquire about the availability of wifi, and was directed to the Tourist Information Office and the library, both of which were closed for the traditional noon-2:00PM lunch break by the time I arrived (although a library employee I bumped into at the entrance told me they didn't have wifi in any case). When I subsequently returned to the now-open tourist office, I discovered they didn't offer wifi either, but they did have a rickety old Windows XP machine available for public use so I finally got to at least check e-mail (I am always anxious to ... read more
zoning? we-don't-need-no-stinking-zoning!

NOTE: Seeing how it seems unlikely my cyclecomputer will resuscitate itself, from this point forward daily distances will be reported as declared on our cue sheets. I can't vouch for their accuracy (especially if I indulge in some creative navigation). The morning started off cool and sunny, with the promise of glorious conditions to come as 4 of us headed off on our way to the high point (both literally and figuratively) of our tour. As the terrain gradually became hillier, my roommate Don and I broke away. It's his 1st trip of this sort and I have been educating him on various aspects of European life (e.g. needing to insert the room key into a reader in some hotel rooms in order to get the lights to work - a typical example of European thought: ... read more

Europe » France » Midi-Pyrénées » Aspin-en-Lavedan June 17th 2015

Depending on how picky you are, today was either a 3 or 4 col day. But I am getting ahead of myself again. Morning saw something new: the absence of rain in the forecast; the clouds, however, lingered low, and our host suggested they wouldn't burn off for another few hours. Breakfast at our hotel was served somewhat late (by our standards, at least) so I eventually got on the road at about 9:15, and quickly discovered that yesterday's cyclecomputer woes had not sorted themselves out overnight. In fact I now could tell only the time of day - speed and distance information were no longer available. The absence of the latter was particularly annoying since it makes following directions that much harder when you don't know when to start looking for the next turn. Although ... read more
col #1

Europe » France » Midi-Pyrénées June 5th 2015

Set out from St. Jean Pied-de-Port around 8 a.m. Upon leaving the walled city, it didn't take long for the climb to begin. The best word I can use to describe the next 7 kilometres is "brutal"! The start of the climb was gradual and at least had brief "levelling off" places, but the majority was a relentless " up, up, up" without any levelling off. It was difficult to walk more than 10 steps without having to stop. The sun and heat became oppressive and made the whole climb even harder! What was even more amazing, was that I came upon a rather petite, elderly Japanese man trying to drag a cart with very small wheels up this crazy incline, over the rocks. He was very clearly struggling with this thing. I asked if I ... read more
Up, up and away ....
"Keep Going"

Europe » France » Midi-Pyrénées » Millau May 17th 2015

This morning Nicole served another HUGE breakfast. This morning we had strawberries and yoghurt/crème fraîche again which was yummy, but it's still like having dessert for breakfast! Then Nicole presented us with Nutella mousse in martini glasses garnished with cake which she told us is a specialty of hers. OMG we'd already eaten one dessert for breakfast, but felt obliged to eat the Nutella mousse as well. I guess there are worse things that can happen when you are travelling than being served two desserts for breakfast?! We said our farewells to the delightful Nicole and Robert who plied us with gifts as we were paying our bill. Water for our journey, a tin of their home-made pâté (the one we were eating on Friday night) for Bernie and a tea-light candle holder for me. Thank ... read more
Ecluses de Fonseranes
Combined bike run race

Europe » France » Midi-Pyrénées May 14th 2015

Monday 11th May - Friday 15th May It is now Friday afternoon, and sadly my time in France has just about come to an end. Tomorrow I go to Vienna, via London. This last week has had some good and some bad happenings. Back to class Monday, with the buses on strike again. They were either on strike or “fort perturbé” (strongly disrupted) for the first three days of the week – then it was another public holiday on Thursday (Feast of the Assumption). Usually it meant that there were few or no buses in the morning, but in the afternoon there were usually some, though on Tuesday afternoon I waited 45 minutes for one. We had classes Thursday despite the holiday, just in the morning. I ate lunch a couple of times through the week ... read more
Amazing Sculpture outside the Japanese Garden
Cathedrale St Étienne
Jardin des Plantes

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