How could I forget?

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Europe » France
September 5th 2009
Published: September 30th 2017
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Scuzzy - very nasty shower curtain! Reminded me of a friend who once drove through Vegas, and decided to stay in the cheapest place possible. He told me that the shower curtain was SO dirty, that his shower took forever, because every time he finished, he would accidentally brush up against the shower curtain and instantly feel so dirty again, that he had to shower once more.
Geo: 43.6044, 1.44295

Brutal ... a 3-hour coughing fit last night, meaning I couldn't sleep until past 4 AM. My eyes are still pretty crusty, too. What's going on??? Showered, chiseled my eyes open, packed, and off to find breakfast. I saw a pretty yummy-looking pastry shop yesterday nearby, and ended up there.

Having a few hours to kill before leaving, I wandered over to the central park, and to the library, in search of some free or cheap Internet. Unfortunately, it's closed weekends in the summer. They definitely like their 80's music here in Andorra - many restaurants pipe it out on to their terraces. I returned to the pension to pick up my backpack, and headed over to the bus station to buy my ticket. I could probably buy the ticket just before boarding, but didn't want to risk having the tickets sell out, and getting stuck in Andorra another day.

I grabbed lunch before hopping aboard, and was surprised to see that it was actually only a little shuttle bus, as I expected hordes of people on a mass exodus from this boring little town. Sitting on the bus, I couldn't believe that I had forgotten two very important

Fruit tart looked amazing, but wasn't all that great - the fruit selection was good with strawberries, peaches, and kiwi, but the crust was a bit hard, and was more like bread than flaky pastry. The pastry cream wasn't very smooth, and didn't have much taste to it. But it's OK, because today I'm off to France! France is a great country for many reasons, but it's worth visiting even just for the pastries and food. The coffee was quite good - this is probably the last cafe con leche of the trip ... I shed a tear ... this also made me realize that I'd be leaving behind all those beautiful Spanish senoritas, once again. I shed another tear ... well, it was actually a few tears ... OK, I actually sobbed and wailed uncontrollably like a little child, curled up in the fetal position, rocking back and forth underneath the table. Are you happy now that you've gotten the truth out of me?
things about France - that both its language and its mademoiselles are very beautiful. How could I forget???

A mademoiselle sitting across the aisle from me couldn't figure out how to recline her seat, and asked me in French how to do so. Actually, I didn't understand a word she said other than "s'il vous plait?", I only heard beautifully melodic French sounds flow out of her mouth, but her gestures indicated what she was asking. My only response was "Uh ... ici ...", pointing to the lever. Had I remembered that French mademoiselles were so beautiful, I would have put some effort into re-learning a bit of French before arriving.

It was about a four hour ride to get to Toulouse, and I was itching to get off the bus and walk around. The area between the bus/train stations and the city centre is a bit dodgy, but there's a great bustle and energy as you approach the old town. Toulouse was quite busy at this hour (it was nearing that golden hour I always talk about that happens in Spain), and I quite liked what I saw so far.

Again, Toulouse is one of those places on the trip

An add for ginseng in coffee - sacrilege! Cafe con leche is so good on its own, why would you want to mess with it?
that has a reason behind the visit - about five years ago when I tried to re-learn French before going to Paris for the first time, I enrolled in a French class. One of the chapters in the text book had a fake tourism ad for Toulouse, and it seemed interesting, so here I am!

At the hotel, the attendant Gonzalo, was actually Chilean, and a really great guy. Another opportunity to practice Spanish! I asked him for a restaurant recommendation, and he told me he couldn't really recommend any - most of the good restaurants are very expensive, and the wait staff are snobby, and the cheaper restaurants are nothing special. I joked "So should I just buy something to eat from Monoprix?", to which he responded "I can't recommend that either." (Monoprix is a Wal-Mart like grocery store chain in France).

Over to Rue du Taur, in search of dinner - it's a street frequented by students, and since Gonzalo couldn't give me a recommendation, I figured I'd go cheap and dine here. One of the cheapest of sit-down meals you can get in France is a crepe, and I picked Creperie du Taur. It wasn't as busy as

Before leaving Andorra, I needed to pick up a very important item - some cough syrup. I can't go on with these coughing fits at night! I don't sleep enough as it is!!! Surprising - this big bottle was only 2.50 euro. I expected it to cost double or triple that, given how much stuff costs back home.
the other creperies, so that suggested the other places were better - unfortunately, Creperie du Taur was the only place where I could get a seat outside.

Positively stuffed after dinner, I went for a stroll through some deserted side streets, until I heard the sounds of jazz, drawing me closer and closer to its source. I've found that a single experience can make or break one's perception of a place, and this jazz definitely made my experience in Toulouse. Tucked into a little courtyard near Place St. Pierre was a jazz concert, and the only cost was a donation at your discretion. I only stuck around for two songs, but these guys were amazing - one song had a distinct Spanish feel to its melody. If you're so inclined to find out more, the band was named Aquero.

Continuing my stroll, it was obvious that Toulouse is just as advertised, and has an incredible student buzz. Countless students were hanging out down by the river, either on bar terraces, or sitting on benches and the grass, sipping wine. Toulouse has a great vibe ... almost a Spanish vibe, in fact!

Additional photos below
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The first restaurant I went to last night, where I sat around like a fool for over twenty minutes, waiting for service. It's called "Bon Dia", Portuguese for "Good day". Good day, my ass! The name should be changed to "Dumbass restaurant that doesn't take care of its customers"

Little courtyard in a complex that contains the central library.

This little church was probably the most beautiful thing in the town, and I ended up taking tons of photos of it.

Like this one ...

The river is a nice spot to hang out, but it seems to get a bit windy there during the evening.

I ended up hiking up a bit of a hill yesterday to get to the pension, when I just could've taken an elevator to the top of the parking garage, and wandered down the street to get there.

Really expensive internet terminal.

Before the bus ride, I decided to have one last traditional Spanish meal (yeah, I know that Andorra isn't Spain, but the food is close enough ..) - a kebab! It was a bit pricer here than in Spain, but was nowhere near as good - dry, hard meat ... blah! Though the shredded carrots and tomato chunks were a nice touch - extra veggies are hard to come by in this part of the world!

The meal was finished off with a lukewarm, weak cafe con leche. I regretted ordering it, because this tarnished my final cafe con leche experience in Spain - this morning's would have ended it on a high note, but the one at the kebab cafe ended it in the sewers.

Driving out of town, I said bye bye to the Spanish speaking countries ... one day I will finally return and become fully fluent! BTW - cool metallic sculptures on either side of the roll-up door on the left.

It was a good bus day ... I tried to sleep, but couldn't ignore the beautiful scenery. Andorra La Vella wasn't that great, but they say that the mountains of Andorra are great for trekking - the views confirmed that.

Toulouse - some kind of gourmet food market.

Busy little park on the way to Le Capitole.

Cool sculpture.

Everywhere around town, people were carrying red synthetic flowers - I figured it must be some special festival today, but it turned out it was only some promotion by a company selling perfume. This is Le Capitole, Toulouse's big main square.

Why I love France - cookies, chocolates, pastries ... and usually all top notch.

A menu in Spanish!!! This means there are Spanish tourists here! Where are they all????!!!?!?!?

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