Saturday, June 17, 2006

Montpellier, Day 1.

Ha ha ha! Well, the Pilgrim thing is persecuting me all the way across the Pyrenees! Near the center of Montpellier, the characteristic vieiras, little palm-sized seashells cast in bronze, mark the pilgrimage trail that goes to Santiago from Arles. I stumbled (literally) upon them yesterday, as I looked for the Youth Hostel (which was overbooked, so no stay there) in the evening. Hah, once a Pilgrim, always a Pilgrim, I guess. It marks you. You can't stop noticing such things (the indications of the route, that is) afterwards. I bet lots of tourists have seen them and either passed them by without notice or perhaps even wondered what they were, but never found out. I....have first-hand knowledge. {shrug}

Anyway, Montpellier is a shopper's paradise. Lots of little stores around the Place de la Comedie and a huge shopping mall nearby. There are also 3 large cinemas within 1 block of each other and a two-minute walk from my hotel right next to the Plaza. Pity things are a bit more expensive here in France (about 50% more than Spain, and about comparable, or perhaps just a tad bit more expensive, to the San Francisco Bay Area). The only things that seem cheaper are houses (at least relative to Silicon Valley prices), wine (at 1.50-2.00 Euro a glass it is cheaper than a soda, which sets you back about 3 Euros at a bar or restaurant) and.....haircuts. Yes, my friends, there are also hairdressers at pretty much every street corner here in France, and they're about as easy to find and ubiquitous as your neighborhood boulanger. I guess the French are really serious about their hair!

Anyway, today I declared another beach day (hey, after Montpellier I won't be seeing the beach for a long, long time, as the biking takes me mercilessly northwards to land-locked country). Bought some delicious takeout stuff at the supermarket (as I said before, the French take good care of the details: things for takeout contain little forks and get this....brightly-colored napkins wrapped up and included in the packaging itself!) and went down to the beach at Palavas. Collected some seashells. Caught up on some French lessons. Swam a bit. Saw Italy tie to the U.S. in a disgraceful autogoal upon return to city center. Not much else. It was for once a real vacation day. :)

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