The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Saturday, June 15, 2013

I happened to camp next to another motorcycle rider when I was in Andorra. He was from Australia and he had shipped his BMW motorcycle here to ride around in Europe. The two of us agreed that Andorra is not a particularly fun place to visit. It is a tiny country that is almost all city, and it is filled with banks, hotels, and angry people who hurry-scurry along impatiently on their skinny roadways. I never knew what language they spoke, but I could tell it wasn't French and it wasn't Spanish. Actually, it looked to me to be some crazy offshoot from Latin (not that I would know).

The road north out of Andorra and into France goes up over a high Col, or Pass. And, the Pass was open (hurray).

I stopped at the top of the pass to take a picture, and there were some Germans there on BMW motorcycles. They spotted me right away, and came over to check out my VStrom. I guess they had never seen one before. They looked at everything, and took pictures of some things, and kept talking about what I had that they needed (shoe plate to keep side stand from sinking into dirt, for one thing). They were a funny crew. One was smoking a huge Sherlock Holmes pipe; another had the worse set of teeth I've seen in Europe.  They wanted my picture with my bike, and then took a picture of me with my camera too.

It is fun being back in France. The drivers are so polite (and quite slow movers, actually), and most people take the time to smile and to greet you with a Bon Jour.  They don't seem to mind at all that my French is mangled and almost non-existent. We always seem to get by with a nod and a grin.

I like the southeastern part of France that I am traveling through now. I can still see the snow covered Pyrenees way off to the south. Here, where I am, there are huge vineyards and lots of wine tasting places (which I don't dare take advantage of and then ride because they have very strict laws here (although I never seem to see any police -- making it quite different that the good old land of speed traps back home).

This area has been fought over for thousands of years, and at times controlled by the French, the Arabs (Moors), and the Spanish. There are castles and old defensive walls and fortresses everywhere.
One such place is Carcassonne. It is terribly old, and quite the popular place to see. My wife and I were here many years ago, and I wanted to go back and check it out again.
Its a Unesco world heritage site. Everywhere you look there is a great picture.

This next picture might not be all that great because a strange person jumped right into the middle of it. Ha!
The streets inside the city are narrow and winding, with lots of stores and restaurants.
It was fun to sit at an outdoor cafe and drink some lemonade and people watch. This little girl was having a grand time running around chasing pigeons.
She never did catch one. (Smile)

I took a tour, and found out that most of the people live in the lower city down below the walls. That part of the city has been there for hundreds of years itself.
Narrow streets down there too, with lots more things going on. It was lunch time, so all the people were out eating. The school kids get out for about two hours, I think, and then they go back to the classroom with stomachs having finished with their meals. It is a good system. Everyone was having a good time.
I explored, then rested, then explored some more until about 9 pm. There was to be a sound and light show in the castle inside the walls when it got dark. I settled down to wait for that. This young guy was entertaining the crowd with the most interesting music. I asked him what his instrument is called, and he said it is a "space drum" because it looks like a flying saucer.
I joined the crowd to watch the free sound and light show, but it was all in French and I couldn't understand a word. I did know that they were explaining the history of the city, but I had already read all about that. So, time to walk back to my campground, a quarter mile away.

First, though, some night shots:

I had a good night's sleep. Lately I have been having leg cramps at night, and pain in my back and neck. None of that last night. I woke up feeling great, and now I am back on the road. I stopped for lunch at a McDonald's to use their free WiFi, and the lunchtime crowd is here now eating smelly fries and chicken sandwiches. Ugh.

I am heading off across southeastern France toward the ferry to Corsica. There is a lot to see before then, though, so I am in no hurry.

What do you think of this flower? Do you like poppies?  They grow wild in Europe, and are all through the fields of wheat and hay and all along the road side, a glorious color of orange everywhere and a real treat for the eyes.

Gotta get going. Talk with you later: