Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Shootout: Country Roads

There are a lot of country roads in my area, and I have country road photos from most every trip I take (being a person who quickly tires of city life and prone to head off down the nearest exit).
But I'm not going to show you any of those. Last weekend I took a road trip (yes, a road trip! no trains. We will be reconsidering that next time, because, even though we split the bill four ways, the rental, gas at about $7 a gallon - typical European prices these days - , extra mileage, tolls, and the incredible joy of trying to park somewhere, anywere! in Marseille, I'm not convinced that it was a good deal. On the plus side, I do really love to drive, and I got to drive the whole 1064km travelled.) to one of those places I'd never been before.
For the picture above, we had stopped for a snack along the modern road, and saw this nice older one snaking over the hills on the other side. I would love to have pursued it, but we were on the way home, and the cats were getting hungry.
But back to going.
This is the fancy new bridge at Millau. It's quite a thing, and on this cold, windy, April day when we stopped for lunch at the rest stop on the north side, the generously-sized parking lot was at least a third full, often with people who had come this way just to see the bridge.
Here are some, taking pictures of it.
Some more, posing with it. That's Mev, our new post-doc, and my grad student Laisheng. No, those are not my fingers, but the ear-tops of you-know-who. Mev's friend Luiz completes our party (he's taking the picture).
No, the weather wasn't very nice the day we drove down. It rained lightly off and on for the first three hours or so. Because the weather people predicted real rain on Sunday, we scored a hotel and parking as quickly as possible, then went out to enjoy the last hour of daylight.
A train station lion. Not the one that tried to eat Maurice.
Many many many pictures were taken, in all possible combinations and poses. The first evening, it was cute. Later, the constant stopping and posing and re-posing and first one camera and then the other and now let's try from this angle and now let's have one with a kiss, got a little old. I should think of it as a chance to practice my people-skills. I'm not very good at that. I think I did alright, though I did notice that sometime on the second day they did stop asking me to take their picture. I know what I need to do for longer trips, and that's to plan some time where the group is not together. Gives me the down-time I need to look forward to company again.
Scenery is more my thing.
And playing with the zoom.
It's an interesting mix of old and new in Marseille. Founded in 600 bc, there's a lot of really old stuff. This fortress is not that old, but it's still plenty old. You can just see the freeway tunnel that goes under it, past that green bush.
The waterfront buildings, with the basilica on its hill looking over the port.
And more contrasts, today's boats with one medieval tower (square) and one rennaissance tower (round), themselves built on older ruins.
Then it began to get dark for real, so we went in search of authentic local-style food. Around the port it seems every other door is to a restaurant. It's the tourist area, but we took our chances there because we were just too hungry to wander around trying to find where the middle-class locals eat. We had already seen that around our hotel the locals tend to eat cheap & greasy kabobs, and we didn't want that. Eating at the hotel (an Ibis, next to the train station) would be the ultimate dining adventure failure.
We ended up having a very nice meal. There was a place with a fixed menu advertised outside offering fresh seafood and bouillabaise that looked just the ticket, but this deal was absent from the menus they handed us. And the prices inside were nothing like the deal either. We kind of looked at each other, wondering if we could afford to eat here or if we should leave, but on asking it turned out the fixed menu was indeed available. I guess it was kind of a lure to get people in, and then many tourists will just stay. And have a superb meal, sure, but one that costs twice what they expected. Anyway, the soup course was incredible. The main dish was fresh local fish and polenta cakes, also covered in soup. White wine. Dessert just ice cream and sorbet, but a simple end to the meal.
Then back to the hotel, where we collapsed into bed.
So that's my 'Country Roads' post. See the previous two posts for a look at an event we found going on at the port and a Marseillaise zebra, and tomorrow I'll be posting photos of Sunday's exploration, which did not get rained on at all.
To connect to other Friday Shootout participants, click here!


Doreen said...

love the first shot of the winding road. many beautiful shots of your area. nice shot of you also!!

Niamh B said...

Thanks for this mini tour - feel like I've seen the city now!

Tabor said...

Charming, the whole trip. The photos made me feel I was there and just a little cold.

Kerry said...

I was so transfixed by your description of the trip, that I had to remember to scroll back and look at the pictures again. (Ahh, but searching for great but affordable restaurants anywhere in France, now that is a fine art and one that you seem to have mastered.)OK, your pictures: really cool bridge, going over...a wetland? I like that lion, too, and the gloomy weather lends drama to everything.

shabby girl said...

Really excellent shootout, and what a cool bridge!!! Your post gave me a really good idea of how very different it is where you are! Thanks for the tour!

Gordon said...

Wish I could follow that first road. Maybe I could find a wild pink rabbit.
Hello, friend. Thanks for posting.

Jama said...

That's one lovely bridge! at least you're still in the same country if you travel to see some country road, for me it's crossing over the causeway into another country . My island is too modern.

Rebecca said...

This is a wonderful tour. I do live the shot of the road snaking off into the distance. But that bridge is amazing!

Chef E said...

I came to see your beautiful photos and my cat on the side! The only way I can play with one with out 'Ahchooing' (allergy season is so bad right now) all day long... Maybe you should put up a video of your cats playing sometime so I can see them!

I like the bridge too, and how you took photos of the people, it almost seems as if they are slowly moving in the photo as if acting...or is that me, lol

Barry said...

I've flown over Marseille, at a low enough altitude and on a clear enough day, to actually be able to make out the city below me.

But I've never visited, so I've really been enjoying your last few posts, but this one especially.

And what was that about kissing?

SOL said...

You have some really breath-taking shots here. My favorite is the bridge.

~JarieLyn~ said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip. I like the photo of the ears of you know who. Haha. That is a good picture of you. I really like that bridge.

Kathy in CA said...

Fantastic! I love your shots of the fortress; such a contrast in the modern city. That bridge is quite an engineering feat!

Ann said...

The bridge is really nice, if I was there, I too will be despite the cold be taking photos.

What about the first photo, you save some money from your expensive petrol and walk up the slope with me?
You will have to pull me up the slope sometimes or push me up.

Pauline said...

I've seen that bridge before - isn't it incredible? Sorry, I was supposed to be looking at the roads; well, a bridge is that, so...
I'm like you about the needing time out! Really enjoyed your shoot-out!

GingerV said...

beautiful bridge - I like your shot of others taking shots, is like a stop action... very interesting. I also do better with the camera than with the people....