A Travellerspoint blog

Sex in the City ~ Toulouse 6 to 7 Feb 2011

semi-overcast 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!
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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.
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The old city ....... more doors and windows, of course!!
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Would love to know what he did to deserve this!!! Shame....nasty!!
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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!!
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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 off she goes!!  Into the unknown...trusting!!

And off she goes!! Into the unknown...trusting!!

Darn..I passed Lourdes without getting off the train! Next time!

Darn..I passed Lourdes without getting off the train! Next time!

Irun station - the most beautiful railway sleeper benches

Irun station - the most beautiful railway sleeper benches

The station where my heart was doing double somersaults!

The station where my heart was doing double somersaults!

Yes!!  The sunrises in Portugal and in my heart!!

Yes!! The sunrises in Portugal and in my heart!!

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!!

Posted by Gypsy Lee 06:00 Archived in France Comments (0)

Swinging Through Montbrun en Route To Bugarach ~ 3 Feb 2011

sunny 14 °C

If you are meant to do something life has a way of getting you there! I had heard about the magical, mystical place called Bugarach, in the Languedoc region (read more in my blog entry Agartha, Fabled Inner Earth). It was a great disappointment that, when I was in the area, I didn't get to see the spot where the aliens will leave in their giant spaceship (apparently they love to manoeuvre it over the waters of the salt lake deep within the earth's caverns), and possibly take with them those humans who are in the area. But thanks to Ann and Lizzie, where we stayed over, I did get there after all!! Despite all the gobbeldy gook attached to this sleepy little French hamlet of just 200 residents (and a very concerned mayor, waiting for the influx of new agies, Mayan calendar followers and apocolyptic warriors), there certainly is a magnetism surrounding the Pic de Bugarach that is hard to describe.
Almost there!

Almost there!


Our 1st sighting of the fabled Magic Mountain of Bugarach

Our 1st sighting of the fabled Magic Mountain of Bugarach

YES!! I made it to Bugarach!

YES!! I made it to Bugarach!


Magic Mountain from the village

Magic Mountain from the village

Stained glass in Bugarach église

Stained glass in Bugarach église

Sleepy hollow of Bugarach...until 2012!

Sleepy hollow of Bugarach...until 2012!

Bugarach église

Bugarach église

Bugarach rainbow window

Bugarach rainbow window

Bugarach ou kerkbankie

Bugarach ou kerkbankie

Bugarach church window

Bugarach church window

The altar at Bugarach

The altar at Bugarach

Bugarach - famed for faceless saints

Bugarach - famed for faceless saints

Bleeding Heart at Bugarach église

Bleeding Heart at Bugarach église

Bugarach hippymobile

Bugarach hippymobile

Bugdog

Bugdog

Lunch on Bugarach square

Lunch on Bugarach square

Moi soaking up the sun

Moi soaking up the sun

Sunseeker

Sunseeker

Yummy!

Yummy!

The area also offers more intrigue and mystery in Rennes-le-Bains, Rennes-le-Chateaux, the most imposing Château de Peyrepertuse, a Cathar castle in the Pyrenees, standing guard over the Aude department. These sacred places are all linked somehow, and geographically form a continuous line through the region. I would love to have seen life there in the height of the Cathar and Templar days. Rumours abound, from the body of Christ being secretly buried here, to the hidden symbols in the church in Rennes-le-Chateaux and this being the place that Mary Magdalene travelled to secretly after the Crucifixion. All makes for some very interesting reading and debate - many books written on the subject, best known (IMHO) being Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

You can see some more images and read info on these places here....but I must warn you, no camera quite catches the magnificence of God's creation.

Cathar Castles

DUILHAC-SUR-PEYREPERTUSE
Our first destination

Our first destination

Napoleons beautiful plane trees

Napoleons beautiful plane trees

Happy Ann!

Happy Ann!

Roadside ram

Roadside ram

Snow on the Pyrenees

Snow on the Pyrenees

Thelma Louise and Priscilla

Thelma Louise and Priscilla

You checking me checking you

You checking me checking you

View from Peyrepertuse

View from Peyrepertuse

The belvedere at Peyrepertuse

The belvedere at Peyrepertuse

Moi at Peyrepertuse

Moi at Peyrepertuse

Lizzie on the belvedere

Lizzie on the belvedere

Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse

Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse

Its a very steep arduous climb...they are well prepared!

Its a very steep arduous climb...they are well prepared!

Chateau de Peyrepertuse

Chateau de Peyrepertuse

Ann and Moi at Cathar castle of Peyrepertuse

Ann and Moi at Cathar castle of Peyrepertuse

Couldnt believe my eyes! A little piece of Sefrica in France

Couldnt believe my eyes! A little piece of Sefrica in France

MONTBRUN DES CORBIÈRES
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RENNES LE CHATEAU
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LIMOUX
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Posted by Gypsy Lee 16:18 Archived in France Comments (0)

They Say All Good Things Come To An End! Salle Jan 2011

overcast 4 °C

The old adage certainly is true...after a week of being on my own at Ramon, the family came back from UK. Ann and I were in a flurry to prepare her material for the Creative Textiles talk and workshop given to the Leggies (Ladies of the Lot-et-Garonne). What fun we had! I put together a web site for her, described in the most complimentary terms as being "shit hot"!! Thank you! And before we knew it my last week in Salles was over. Here are some more fond memories of my time in Aquitaine.

When Ann and Fitz moved in permanently about a year ago, Chisel was wild, did not make eye contact and snuk around mostly in the barn. With love and tender care he was brave enough to come into the kitchen after a few months. The last 2 days of my visit he really became a house cat by sneaking into my room and making himself comfortable on my bed!! Sweet thing :)
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How we spend most evenings Ramon_-_ho..e_spent.jpg
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Walkies!! Ramon_walkies.jpgRamon_sweet_Ann.jpg

I have NEVER seen so many socks in one wash!!! Ramon_socks.jpgRamon_Pusskin.jpgRamon_preserved.jpgRamon_my_fave_tree.jpg

Moi recycling the Christmas tree for kindling
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and basking in the sun....
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Ma chambre
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Ramon in the beautiful summer months...a very good reason to accept the kind invitation to visit again!!
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Creative art of the Stephens girls - Lizzie's lampshade and Ann's flying wellies!! Stunning stuff!
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and Ann taught me the art of embellishing on felt....what a fun time...love the abstract creations! This is my 1st piece...I am hooked (hahahaha!! 'scuse the pun!)
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Another of my scrumptious "home-alone" meals - oxtail and of course no good meal is complete without a little cheese and dolce!
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and cherries jubilee...another bountiful harvest from Ramon....OH I looooove good food!!
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there's always something yummy to eat in the Ramon Kitchen...here I baked an almond cake, had to compromise the recipe a little as I didnt have all the ingredients but it was superb...the deep orange colour comes from the totally free range eggs!
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The local countryside.....
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Thanks to Fitz and Ann for an amazing time and wonderful new friends! Love you guys!

Posted by Gypsy Lee 14:54 Archived in France Comments (0)

The Tile Pile is Done ~ Salles Jan 2011

Success at last!! When we started with the project to move all the rubble from the roof renovations, it seemed like one of those tasks that will just never have an ending. But this has certainly been a testimony to my motto that "You can eat an elephant, just do it in small bites"!! We tackled a little each day, weather permitting, and slowly, slowly, with the entertaining company of chickens scrubbing round in the newly exposed earth, finding delicious bugs, and friends offering a welcome break to share some sunhine and a glass of wine, managed to move and sort all the rubble. Here is a photo montage of our achievement (There are more pics on my page "Sister Sledge in Slippers")

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What fun!!

Posted by Gypsy Lee 00:43 Archived in France Comments (0)

Out & About in Rural France ~ Jan 2011

sunny 8 °C

Here is a hodge-podge of photos taken in various locations in my meanderings through the Aquitaine, Dordogne and other regions of southern France.

The River Dordogne running through Bergerac....the crew of this rowing boat were kind enough to stop right under the bridge on which I was standing!
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Ann and I did a quick sorty to Tournon, another bastide town...
Many French towns have statues in remembrance of the many young men who gave their lives in the 2 great wars of the 20th century.
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Took a day off to travel to le Temple-sur-Lot, reported to be the secret meeting place of the Knights Templar and the source of Monet's waterlillies, passing through Casseneuil, Sainte-Livrade-sur-Lot and Castelmoron-sur-Lot, prune country!
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Did I mention that we passed through Condom on the way to Salles??!! Didn't have my camera out to take a photo, but it really is there :)
(I borrowed this image from Google)
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Posted by Gypsy Lee 13:02 Archived in France Comments (0)

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