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After an amazing sleep in a very comfortable bed, that I didn’t have to climb a ladder to get into, I headed from the little house to the chateau where I met the folks that were part of Ihla’s tour. Everyone was quite welcoming and made me feel right at home as we piled into the wo cars to head to Collioure for the day.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had been there 3 years ago and was eager to get back, since that time we only had a few hours and there were things that I missed being able to explore.

We arrived shortly before lunch, so after looking around briefly, we settled down for what turned out to be an amazing meal. I hadn’t had many salads in Zambia, so when I saw some good options for them on the menu, I made a pretty quick choice. Little did I know that this salad, with fruits de mer and foie gras was going to be so amazing.

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But even given that, I had some of the lamb curry that I had ordered to share. It was also amazing.
After pretty much stuffing myself and drinking wine along with that, it was time for an espresso before heading out to explore the village.

The first part of the exploration was to take the petit train. These are vey popular in France, and can be a good way to get an overview if a new place. And this one was one of the better ones since it went to the top of the foothills of the Pyrenees above the town and then down to the neighboring village of Port-Vendres.

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In addition to those marvelous views, I got to see a tree from which cork had been harvested.

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After that, I wandered around a bit before heading off to visit the Château Royal which is currently made up of pieces of a number of castles from different periods.

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This yields lots of cool details to view.

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After leaving the castle, I had a little bit of time left to do some shopping and wander through the lovely streets of the village.

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I even found the jewelry show where I bought some things the last time I was there, but since the artisan had not added many new things, I wound up only buying a couple of things at the shop that I went to before finding this one again.

All in all it was a good day, and despite the long journey I had just had, I help up pretty well. But I was ready for another good nights sleep in a very nice bed.

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With my time in Zambia over, I headed off to France.

Of course this is much easier to say than to do. My first flight was just after 1 PM, so the cab picked me up at 11 (the Livingstone Airport is quite tiny so this was more than enough time).

After a short flight to Johannesburg, I had about a 7 hour layover. Even with lounge access this is a long time, but with a guitar in tow it would have been difficult to head into the city, plus the airport is not really close to much of anything. So, after 5 weeks of bad nails, well maybe 4, I opted for a manicure and pedicure to pass at least part of the time. Then I headed to the lounge.

My next flight was on EgyptAir to Cairo, not too surprisingly, but somewhat disappointing none the less with two long flights and a layover with them, they are a dry airline. Less comforting was that the plane from JoBurg to Cairo looked like it was about to fall apart, at least the interior was. And the guide for using the video system was anything but user friendly. It just listed the movies in order without a channel number, and you had to count from the top down to figure out which one was where. The system was supposed to have touch screen navigation, but that didn’t really work either. Thankfully, I slept most of the flight.

I then had 5 hours in Cairo, which gave me time to get some breakfast and freshen up a bit as well as get caught up on some personal work. Then I was finally of to Paris. I wish that this plane was what we had on the longer flight, as it was much newer and had much nicer seats.

Finally, I was in the country of my destination, but I still had a long way to go. And upon gathering my luggage and heading off towards the train, I realized that one of the wheels had broken on my bag. Of course I realized this after leaving the baggage area so I couldn’t easily make a claim, I know wheels aren’t generally covered, but the bag was cracked as well, so I will still to try to do this. Note: this makes the score suitcases 2, me 0 for this trip.

This time, I had about 3 hours until my train to Narbonne. But at least I was getting to the last leg of my trip. Finally I was on the TGV, and just had to stay awake to not miss my stop. The rest was easy. My arranged cab driver was there waiting with a sign, and got me safely to the chateau, where I met up with Ihla, owner of Drifter Sister and she got me settled in the little house right next to the castle where I would be staying for the next 6 nights.

And after 37 hours of travel, yes 37, and I didn’t even change a single time zone, I was ready to settle in after essentially losing a day and then some.

But, of course it was around midnight, so I had to be up pretty early again if I didn’t want to miss the outing to Collioure the next day, and I really didn’t want to miss it as it was one of my favorite day trips when I stayed in the castle with one of Ihla’s trips 3 years ago.

Needless to say, I made it, but I will leave the story of that trip for another post.

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