Monday, November 06, 2006

The spiral stairs go on forever...

The fortress at Carcassonne.

I’m not sure exactly why, but I always seem to be the last one to learn about what’s happening here at the winery. For example, last Tuesday at about 4pm, my supervisor told me that I didn’t have to work the next day. I figured I should borrow the car and take a trip in honor of All Saints Day, and Carcassonne seemed as good a place as any. The main attraction in Carcassonne is a fortress on a hill – the original city – built sometime beginning during the 7th century.


I don’t know the perimeter of the exterior wall, but I’ll just say that inside, there was a chateau, a cathedral, and everything else you’d find a medieval city. Of course none of the original shops still exist (who needs a blacksmith, anyway?). They’ve been replaced by hotels and souvenir shops selling plastic swords and cafés with €6 beers. But it’s from the outside, from far away, looking up to what remains striking even today, that your imagination runs wild.

Arc de Triomph

Friday I was able to work alone for the afternoon. I know that may seem weird, but because I’ve spent almost no time working alone, it was incredibly relaxing. I was pruning vines in one of our vineyards on a clear afternoon with the Pyrenees to my south… ah, it was nice - you had to be there…

Feel free to visit.

This weekend I headed to Montpellier. Montpellier is a university town with 60,000 students making up about a quarter of the population. Wikipedia said the average age of the town is about 26, and after spending a day walking around, I can’t disagree. But before I was able to walk around, I had to find a way out of the public pay bathrooms. If you haven’t been to Europe, many countries have bathrooms that you must pay to use. You insert coins, the door opens, and when you finish you push the handle to release the automatic door. Well, after using the toilet, I turned around to leave and noticed the handle to open the door was lying, broken, on the floor. I was locked in, and what’s worse, the bathrooms self-clean by spraying water everywhere. I picked up the broken handle and after realizing it was completely worthless, tried to use the car key. This also proved inadequate. I pushed on the door, but still nothing. I thought about staying inside and calling aloud for help, but this idea didn’t seem much good, either, because I don’t know how to say, “Help, I’m stuck in the bathroom. The door handle is broken.” I finally settled on lowering my shoulder and trying to break the door. However, I was beginning to become claustrophobic and I may have used a bit too much force. I ended up on the ground outside of the toilet, and the breaking door was loud enough to distract a group of old men from their bocce ball game 50 yards away. I think we all had a good laugh with that one. Yeah, ha ha.

I spent the rest of the day walking around town visiting the gardens, eating crepes with Nutella and bananas, drinking little beers with big prices (€5 for Budweiser), and climbing the Arc de Triumph (I think most major towns in France have one - insert French military joke here). Aside from getting lost a couple of times driving to and from Montpellier, it was a good trip.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Is there a good reason that your town's name is "forty?" Is it 40 km from something important?