Friday, June 11, 2010
Day 3: Carcassonne
I woke up this morning early, about 7:30. I spent some time in bed reading and writing emails and such. I went to breakfast in the hostel (included), which was the standard French hostel food: cereal, bread, spreads, and coffee. I lounged around for a bit, and then cleaned up and checked out. I didn't know what train I'd be taking to Carcassonne or where I'd be staying tonight. I tried to find hostels online, with little success. I called one place, and only got an angry frenchwoman on the line. I emailed that place, not really expecting a reply. I called another place, and made a reservation, but they wanted 40 euros, so I was hoping not to stay there. I had emailed some couchsurfing hosts, but hadn't received any responses. A little flustered, but not unbearably, I decided to head to the train station.
With a bunch of people from the hostel, I went to the station with all my stuff. My bag is too big. I got a ticket at 12:15 for a 1:30 train, so I walked around for a few minutes, and then parked myself in the station with my book. I read until it was time to get on the train. The ride was beautiful, a real tour of the Cote D'azure, the part of Provence on the coast. I got to see the big cities, the Mediterranean, and the country side. I read, wrote, and watched for the five or so hours from Nice to Montpellier. I got off, and had a an hour layover in Montpellier. The station had no bag check, so I walked down the street, grabbed a sandwich and a fanta, and headed back to the station. After eating, I checked my email, racing the battery on the computer, as the one plug I could find in the station did not work. The hostel I had emailed had replied: Bonjour.
Ok pas de problème. Though I wasn't sure, I assumed that meant they would have a room for me. It was also the hostel I read about in my somewhat outdated guidebook, as the best hostel to stay in if you wanted to see the old city at night, supposedly the best time to see it.
A word about Carcassonne. It's a fortified town on a hill, that has been inhabited fairly consistently since the 6th century BCE, and has been fortified since before the Romans in 100 BCE. It has been sieged and rebuilt over and over again since. It also has, inside the walls, a huge fortress. Restoration began in 1844 according to a medieval plan of the town, and is in perfect condition now, and was named a UNCESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
So I got off the train, and was told I should walk to the old city. It was about a twenty five minute walk, with the forty pound pack on my back and the fifteen pound pack on my front. A good workout for sure. I got to the hostel, and sure enough there was room. I put my pack down, watched the France-Uruguay game for a few minutes, sipping on a small glass of wine the hostel gave me. I then headed out into the city with my camera and tripod. For the next 2 hours or so, until about midnight, I walked around inside and outside the walls taking pictures. It's all lit up at night. Quite a sight. This was paradise: music in my headphones, a beautiful city, and a camera. I came back a happy, tired boy, fought with the hostel internet for a bit, and went to bed.