Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Monday, September 10

Monday morning bright and early: time to go On Vacation ! Would have gone on the weekend, but the Card Player and I had card playing to do so we stuck around home for that.

We’re taking a quick trip south to taste the wine and the seafood, then we’ve got a long weekend planned at a friend’s apartment in Paris. Unnecessarily complicated, but whatever. I’ve packed Counting Crows, Knopfler, the Bodeans, Santana, and suchlike for road music. JP doesn’t mind listening to the news & traffic loop, but I only like that when the news is new, not when I’ve heard it four times already.

Right about noon, we are at a fabulous big bridge, where we stop for a pee and a stretch. If you ever happen to be here, be warned about the toilets. They are fancy designer toilets with super high-pressure flushing. Gets that bowl blasted clean. Only, the bowl is designed to look nice, but not to contain that blast of water: it splashes over and drenches everything. Even the door gets wet. Fashion before function taken a little too far. So zip up, gather your stuff, open the door, then quick flush&run.

Having stopped, we realize it’s time for a bite. In Mende for lunch, things are quite deserted. It’s Monday. It’s back to school. Heh heh heh, we are On Vacation.

We have had enough of schoolish things. We want crisp salads and crusty bread and some pretty rosé to wash it all down, here at this nice sidewalk café in the shade of the plane trees. Oh, that is a nice rosé – local, is it? Let’s note the address and pay them a visit on the way back.

Back on the road, south south south on the A75. Turn left at Montpellier. I hate crossing Montpellier by car, because the freeway is not continuous. If you’re on the A75 and you want to turn east, you have to mess around endlessly on surface streets. The heck? Finish the d*** road. And there’s traffic. Nasty traffic. But here we are finally on the coast road, passing by the Grande Motte and the Grau du Roi and the walled town of Aigues Mortes. We stopped there last year. This time it’s on to Saintes Maries de la Mer, via the extra-small roads.

Goat tracks, Dan would say.

I love the goat tracks.

We’re in the Camargue, the huge salt marsh where the flamingos live and there are white horses living wild (or not so wild) and herds of tasty black cattle all around.

JP is just tickled that I picked Saintes as our destination. Of course I picked it because I knew he would be tickled. And in the flash-visits of the past I’ve never stayed more than a half-day, never seen the flamingos close up or any of those free-roaming quadrupeds.

There they are! There they are!

Oh look, bovines. I am so easily amused sometimes. But they are really pretty, all black and peaceful out there in the fields. And here are some tourists from Holland stopping to see what we’re gawking at, and they get their cameras out too and we all admire the herd for a while before moving on.

JP loves showing me around all his old favorite places, and one of these is the beach where he used to go windsurfing. It’s not an easy place to get too, and so much the better or it would be overrun. It’s been some time since last he drove down here, decades at least, and the road has not only not been improved, but at one point there’s this concrete funnel that prevents anything larger than a regular car from getting through. Prevents people from driving campers down here and wrecking the nature reserve. Our car is about the largest that will fit, and fortunately we have a professional driver at the wheel.

Another 12 km to go to reach the beach, but long before that the quality of the road becomes just too poor for any vehicle that’s not already a wreck or aspiring to be one. So we will not be seeing the Number One Windsurfing Beach today.

Oh look, some of those white horses. And birds! Gotta see the birds! So we get out and walk around for a while. I go off birdhunting while JP sticks around the car. He’s wary of thieves, he says.
Thieves? There’s nobody here. Nobody.

In the evening I have 50 photos of horses, birds, birds standing on horses, birds in trees, trees that recently had birds in them, and some of the sluices that keep the Mediterranean from invading (or escaping). JP has photos of his car. I don’t know why.

More goat-tracking and we finally arrive at Saintes Maries. We’re staying at La Palunette, a bit out of town on the main road inland. Room 4, with a patio facing west. It’s a really nice place, quiet and homey; once again I have landed an ace. We are 2 km from the waterfront where most of the restaurants are: a distance in that gap between our ideas of what’s walking distance and what isn’t. He wins this time, as I concede that, yes, on the return trip it will be dark out and there’s no sidewalk.

Ah, dinner by the sea. Fresh clams with linguini. Mmmm. Broiled sea bass for JP. Some crisp white wine with that. Delicioso! Fresh seafood is sadly lacking in Clermont; it’s worth it to come down here for only two days just for this.

It’s warm out, and we linger, watching the boats coming in and the people going by. Strolling around holding hands is one of my favorite parts. JP’s hands seem so big, but wrist to fingertip they are exactly the same size as mine, just thicker, meatier, warmer.

1 comment:

The Bug said...

This sounds absolutely lovely! It's a rule that on road trips you have to point out cows to each other (and in our car at least, we say "We've got cows!" just like whatshername from Twister). I have a Florida friend who's been trying to get a picture of an egret on a cow for two years now - & there you have totally beaten that goal with a bird on a HORSE. Fabulous!