Monday, 14 July 2008

14/07/08: Bastille Day

Today is Bastille Day! It's basically a French 'Independance Day'.

I had the monster sleep-in I've been waiting for this morning. I rose at about eleven - really need that. We had breakfast and I finished off yesterday's blog. We went for a quick walk to fetch lunch. The shop was closed for the National Holidays so we decided to have the Croque Monsiours we bought yesterday.

After lunch was when the fun of living with my mother continued. We sat out on the terrace to have lunch. I went back upstairs to get my book when there was this popping sound and the sound of something breaking. I went into the kitchen and the oven dish had cracked apart. She'd left the grill on. Funnily enough, she hadn't even used it. She'd cooked the Croques in the oven so it's a mystery why she put that on.

Half an hour later the fun continued. There was a scream. We plodded into my bedroom to see that she had pulled off my curtain off the wall. Once again, a mystery what she was doing and why.

So far this holiday she has broken or lost everything she's touched. Ironically, earlier this morning she was saying how she was not going to pay the man's Security Deposit because some of the plates were chipped and the towels were "a funny cover". She can forget that now she's started breaking stuff.

After we fixed the apartment and had lunch, we decided to go for a gentle stroll. We wandered all around Couiza. It was jolly.

We walked down along the river (as you can see) and came up to the town when the path ended. We had a look around a small chateau there that was a remarkably posh hotel / restaurant for such a small town. After we'd gone full circle we went the opposite way up the river and found a little spot by the river to dip our feet and have a good relax in the sun.

I read this little book that was in the apartment called A Traveller's Guide to the Mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau. Rennes-le-Chateau is the next town along and there's a lot of mystery surrounding it - hence the need for a book about it. Most of it comes from a priest in the town in the 1800s, but I'll tell you more about that tomorrow as we plan to spend the day (or at least part of it) there.

We sat by the river for quite a while. I didn't realise until later, but I managed to burn my left arm. It looks really red and sore, but it's fine ... just a little embarassing. Hahaa. After we were all well and truely sizzled, we caring on walking up the hill and got the most spectacular view of the valley.

After mooching around for a bit and finding a spot to take photos that wasn't obstructed by trees, bushes and other shrubbery, we headed back down and slowly headed back to the apartment.

Here are the rest of the photos taken in and around Couiza:

Some parts of town gave me great opportunities for some black&white shots, some of which you can see above. We also past a small derelict house that got me very excited, but I was disappointed to discover it was full of wood.

We then set off for Carcassone. With it being Bastille Day, there was to be a massive firework display that night in Carcassone which is the main city in the region. Before we drove to Carcassone we had one of our habital drink stops and during that the traffic through Couiza was nonstop. It was obvious where they were heading to. It is said that hundreds of thousands of people go on a Bastille Day Exodus to see the Carcassone fireworks. Last year there were 700,000 apparently. After our drink the roads were relatively clear and we could see why when we reached Carcassone. We reached a roundabout on the outskirts and saw that people were parking on the road nearby. If you go to a strange and unfamiliar place, and you wish to park somewhere, don't go any further if you see people parking this far out. We pulled up at the end of the long queue of cars down the side of the road and joined on the back of a large group of would-be 'pilgrims'. It took us an hour to reach the centre, or near enough to it (Dad gauged it being about a three mile walk). We were sat across the main river that runs through Carcassone and we could see its chateau just over a cluster of trees. We had a pretty decent view.

I've never seen so many people in one place at one time. I've been to plenty of football matches, and I was stood on a cricket pitch with 50,000 other people when I went to see Radiohead two and a half weeks ago, but this was something else. There were people everywhere you looked for miles and miles around.

The fireworks kicked off at half ten and last for forty minutes. They were spectacular and the chateau made for a beautiful backdrop.

There are tons of pictures of the fireworks, but I only have the patience to do a few.

After the fireworks we following walked back to the car. It took yet another hour and it was so tedious walking in a herd for three miles. However, we did it and we got out of the city with relatively no hassle. We were expecting to be stuck in traffic until the early hours but it all went smoothly.

As we travelled back to Souiza, I listened to the album Drums Not Dead by Liars; an album I've liked for months. It really clicked though, as we drove back. I finally see that album for the genius it is. It took me somewhere else, as all the best albums do. Then we reached the apartment (at half past one) and I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.


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