Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Trip dist. 0 kms. Trip time: 1 hr, 32 mins. Tot dist: 2453 kms.

Right. So once I figured out that the Canal du Midi is best caught from Carcassonne (otherwise catching it only from Narbonne would be like seeing only the foot of Michelangelo's "David"), I realized I needed to get there fast, especially fast because little Perpignan in spite of being the center of Dalì's universe, is actually a very uneventful town. Cute receptionists, true, but hardly a reason to stay much longer than absolutely necessary.

So. I took the train to Carcassone. The way I justify this is as follows: From Perpignan to Narbonne it is approx. 65 kms on my map. From Carcassonne to Narbonne it is approx 61 kms on my map (the map, of course, being a road atlas, assumes you're travelling by car). From Perpignan to Carcassonne it is approximately 80 kms. Since Narbonne, Carcassonne, and Perpignan are each at the vertex of a triangle, with Narbonne being the point I wanted to eventually get to, before continuing on towards Montpellier, and being that it would take me a full day to bike to Carcassonne, in a rather unnecessary (timewise) side detour, taking the train is not cheating, because from Carcassonne to Narbonne it is about the same distance by bike as it would've been if I had biked from Perpignan to Narbonne.

Sounds a bit like Elisa-logic to you?

O.K how about this: I need some time to settle down and get my bearings, because in Lisbon I had 4 days to get used to things, in Spain it was unnecessary, since I'm fluent in the language, but the French is killing me, and besides, yes, I suppose I was a bit tired, and Perpignan is not a good place to stay to rest, lest you get bored to death, and then what good would an Elisa-corpse do to anyone, huh?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Anyway, Carcassonne is a nice town with its very own medieval castle and the Youth Hostel is right smack in the middle of of the old town. It has some quaint little shops including this great artisanal candy store where the packaging is prettier than how the candy tastes (but oh, how pretty it is!! Just from the packaging, you want to buy the whole candy store!) and a lovely artisanal soap shop where they have soaps of a gazillion different flavors (yes, my friends, that is flavors, for the soaps are all made to smell of things like chocolate, vanilla, coconut, banana---have you ever soaped yourself up with banana?--mint, you name it, apart from the traditional and tried and tested rose, freesia, lavender, peach, apple, apricot, everything you can imagine), and again, with packaging that made you wish your eyes, too, could eat. And you know what? I realized something very important about French fare: it is not so much that French stuff is prettier, or better, or tastier, or higher quality, necessarily. It is simply that the French know how to do things with flair: they package it and market it in a way that is irresistibly attractive, and this is extended all the way to the charmingly polite delivery where they insist, that it was their pleasure to serve you, not the other way around.

Neat, huh?

Anyway, my Frenchuñol (combine equal parts of Italian, Spanish, lessons 1-15 of basic French CD audio course bought at American bookstore, mix at high speed, and deliver, with as much conviction as possible, slightly slurred) is getting better, especially since people everywhere most kindly correct my gramar and finish my sentences. :). No, really, this is actually the best kind of teaching, I'm absorbing things pretty darn fast, I assure you, so much so, that they at least seem to understand me (bad grammar and all) and most importantly they do not immediately switch to English with me like they do with the American and British tourists. Quite a triumph, I think. ;)

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