06.02.2011 - 07.02.2011 12 °C
One of the most apparent things for me on this journey has been this - I can plan, but God will take me where He wants, when He wants and how He wants. I have developed an incredibly deep sense of trust, faith and knowledge that ALL is fine and good, and that my every need is met, often not quite as I had expected!! But even in that knowing, there are days when anxiety or stress creep back into my consciousness and I must take a step back and look at the big picture....but I am getting there!
Had my 1st wobbly in Europe, a small hitch at the airport...the French did not want me to leave!! So I quite unexpectedly spent a night in Toulouse. Practical considerations won the day, so I found an inexpensive hotel just across from the station and downtown from the Portuguese consulate that I needed to visit to sort out my visa My room was most clean and comfortable, but it is slap bang in the middle of the red-light district!! But nothing to fear, I was out and about, even after dark, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the old city. I heard more Arabic than French, so with a little imagination this made up for my disappointment of not getting to Morocco this time round!
I wanted to take some photos of the ladies plying their trade, but that wasnt much welcomed!!
One of my visits was to the Church of Saint-Sernin. This is the world’s largest Romanesque church and was built in the 11th century to house pilgrims on their way to Spain. The church’s signature five-tier octagonal tower illuminates at night. Its tiers contain relics and reliquaries of saints as well as a thorn that is fabled to be from the biblical Crown of Thorns worn by Christ. The interior of the church features a magnificent central apse, which glitters with 19th century gilded ceiling frescoes.
And of course, in our meanders through life there are sights that are less than glorious...only saw 2 in France...here they are...the streets of Toulouse after market and fag hell in Fumel....uuuugh!!
Seems the best option for me to get back to home (Lisboa) is by train....much more expensive than flying and of course a long journey. But I bite the bullet...after all, do I have an option here??!! Leave Toulouse at 4.30pm, change trains at Bayonne on the Atlantic seaboard, on to Irun, the Spanish border, for another train change to Coimbra. A comfortable journey despite being on board for 16 hours. Much time to reflect and contemplate what's been happening.
And then to add insult to injury I am unable to draw cash from any ATM. Yikes....used my last 16 Euros to buy the train ticket....not a cent for a bottle of water. Thank goodness I came prepared and packed "padkos" as every good S'efrican would do for a journey of longer than 2 hours!!! Small spot of bother though as I can't even buy a Metro ticket to get back to the apartment in Lisboa. But the angels are always there....I know I can press Bilal's button and he is always sweet and kind to help....I am home with family again......breathe a sigh of relief. After 3 days of touch 'n go moments, and being very challenged, there is nothing that soothes like a good, hot shower and a comfy bed. Thank you, darling friend!!
And as Bilal stated when we chatted about my time here...."you have so far done a 7 month journey on a 6 week budget....that is nothing short of a magical miracle!!" Indeed!!