You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘GPS’ tag.

As you can probably tell from the details in my last fee posts, my week in Agel really flew by. So I’m on to the next leg of my adventure where I will be studying French for 4 weeks in Aix-en-Provence.

However, before I move on to sharing that adventure, I want to share some photos of the wonderful little house that I have been staying in this week.

When you enter from the street you are greeted with this view.

20151006-131105.jpg

And you can proceed into the living area from there.

20151006-131150.jpg

Since I had access to the castle next door, and was tagging along on adventures with the group staying there, I didn’t spend much time in these areas. I pretty much made some espresso every morning before getting ready for the day, and then headed next door.

20151006-131900.jpg

20151006-131933.jpg

20151006-132013.jpg

20151006-133036.jpg

This very short journey took me

  • out the back door, which I never had to lock since it opened into the private castle grounds

20151006-132222.jpg

20151006-132319.jpg

  • across my private terrace that also didn’t really get used

20151006-132249.jpg

  • past some wonderful gardens

20151006-132540.jpg

  • up a stone stair way

20151006-132645.jpg

  • and through a door that needed a very large key.

20151006-133017.jpg

Of course, after my wonderful stay in Zambia, I would be remiss to not include photos of the sleeping loft (yes there were stairs to get there, but not a ladder) and of the bathroom that never ran out of hot water.

20151006-133301.jpg

20151006-135134.jpg

20151006-135145.jpg

A cool quick of the place was that from the window you see in the bathroom, you could, if you wanted, step out onto the street.

20151006-135533.jpg

It was a great stay, and a very much needed break between teaching and studying, in a very charming place. But now it was time to head off for that studying, the first step of which was to navigate back to Montpellier without the GPS – no, I didn’t give up on it, I just had to return it. And the second step was to lug my bags from the rental car drop off to the train station. Both went fairly well, thought not without any hitches. I took the wrong exit from a roundabout and wound up back on the autoroute, but it a good spot to exit again right away and be back at that same round about shortly thereafter. After lugging my bags to the station, I had to navigate both a lunch counter and the bathroom with them before boarding the train, and when I boarded, my seat was at the other end of the car.

But I made it to Aix, and the woman I was renting a studio apartment from was there to beet me as planned. And I had a day to settle in and remember where things were in that city before starting classes Monday morning.

Advertisements

Thursday’s journey was one that I had been looking forward to ever since I realized I was close enough to make the drive from Agel.

According to my research, it was just under 2 hours to get to Roquefort, yes the place of a famous cheese, if I took the autoroute. So off I went.

Of course, since the moas on my GPS were slightly our if date, it didn’t know that A1 came as far south as I was and decided to take me a different route. It was a lovely route, but it was hard to enjoy due to the hairpin turns needed to get me up and over the mountains. The phot below is the view for the top of one of the plateaus that I navigated that day.

20151003-085656.jpg

So, as I alluded to in my last post, it really felt as I kept adding time to my journey all the way there. Of course since I eventually made it, this trend did stop, or I would still be during there now, but it was frustrating and the driving was quite technical and tiring especially since I was by myself.

Going this back way, I did stumble on a few places I never torn wise would have seen, so that was a perk.

20151003-090007.jpg

20151003-090105.jpg

20151003-090121.jpg

20151003-090138.jpg

Finally I arrived and just needed to find parking and figure out my plan for the day.

20151003-090340.jpg

And it turned out , that even just trying to find something like the tourism office was challenging, so my navigation difficulties were not just due to GPS woes. But I did find it, and got a good test of my French. I was following the woman’s advice fairly well until she used a word I just couldn’t figure out. But that gave me a chance to ask, and to learn a new word, reconstitution, which means reconstruction, and here was used to designate that for one of the tours you didn’t get to see a real cave, instead you walked through something set up to look like one.

By this time, it was nearing noon and the tour of the real cave was shutting for lunch, so it made sense to grab lunch as well. So I decided to eat at the site that had this tour.

20151003-091052.jpg

20151003-091110.jpg

Since I had been eating a lot the last few days, whole I was hungry, I didn’t want a multiple course meal. But I did want something with Roquefort, so I went for the burger – and was quite pleased. I wish I could get a blue cheese burger like this back home.

20151003-091325.jpg

By the time I finished, the tours had started back up so I headed off to join the Société tour. And my timing was great as one had just started, so I didn’t have to wait and only missed a little bit of an animated display that did didn’t look like it would have been very good anyway.

During the tour, we learned about the how the different types of penicillin distinguish the cheeses from the different houses and how important both the cool temperature (8-12 C) and the high humidity (95%) are to obtaining the right product.

20151003-091852.jpg

20151003-091906.jpg

Thee was a film that explained a lot of the process and we got to see the actual cave with cheese waiting for its day to be revealed.

20151003-092508.jpg

Of course at the end we got to taste (and buy) the product.

After the tour, I checked out the one where you see the model cave. It was nice that it was free, but the real cave was much better, just as the woman at the tourist office had said. There were also a couple of other places to taste the cheese from different houses, but not all of them were open, and in the end I liked what I tasted at the firs place the best.

I did wander around the town a bit as well, thought it is pretty small so that didn’t take much time.

20151003-092950.jpg

20151003-093004.jpg

20151003-093033.jpg

20151003-093046.jpg

20151003-093313.jpg

20151003-093328.jpg

If I’d had more time, ad if I hadn’t been by myself, it would have been nice to take some of the trails that lead out from this little village into top he surrounding countryside, as the write ups for them sounded quite nice.

20151003-093246.jpg

But, it was time to make friends again with the GPS and head back to Agel. But only after I ignored the initial directions and followed the signs to the autoroute. Even this was pretty technical at times as you had to slow down to 50 kph during he descent from the mountains. And once I exited, I had a challenge once again finding the best route to Agel. At least this time I avoided the roads that seemed like sidewalks and made it back in time for a lovely catered dinner of fois gras torchon the best fois gras I have ever had (it was prepared from the raw products by the chef) as well as blanquette de veau.

As my third morning in France arrived, it was the day for me to pick up a rental car so that I could explore some new places. The plan was for me to drive with the group to Montpellier, stay with them for the walking tour, and then head to Avis to pick up my car.

Since Montpellier is about an hour and a half from Agel, we got a reasonably early start so that we would be able to start our walking tour at 10:30. Thankfully we made a quick pot stop as we got close to the city where I could buy an additional coffee to give me a bit of extra fuel.

I had done the same walking tour 3 years ago, but it was a good tour and my reservation wasn’t until noon, so it made sense to tag along. Montpellier is quite an interesting city and as such it is impossible to see all of it in a two hour tour. However, this tour does a good job of highlighting the main things and showing off some things that you can only see during such a tour.

After having been in remote locations for more than a month, seeing large bindings was a bit of a shock, yet none the less, impressive.

20151002-012044.jpg

Other than the grand buildings you are met with as you enter the town, one of the first things that you can notice is how the interior of the shops in the old district all have vaulted ceilings. This is because the current buildings incorporated, rather than replacing, the ancient structures. Unfortunately, it is quite hard to get a good photo of these from the outside due to the variations in light. But I found the one below on the internet to give you an idea.

20151002-061933.jpg

This theme is repeated throughout the city as the old and the new are commonly seen side by side and on top of each other.

20151002-012230.jpg

20151002-012244.jpg

And there are just some pretty cool looking structures as well.

20151002-062102.jpg

20151002-062302.jpg

20151002-062330.jpg

The first of the special places we got to see was one of the Hôtel Particuliers. Don’t let the name or the appearance fool you, these are not hotels.

20151002-062742.jpg

In an age gone by, these wrench homes of the wealthiest folks in town. And many of them have been preserved in French cities where they now serve as apartments, office buildings, etc. I’ll hold off on saying more about these until a later post.

The other special place was a Mikwé. This site is extra special given how well preserved that it is(there is still water in the bath). And it will probably get even better, as there is process going on now to excavate a near by synagogue and create a combined historic site. It also is special given the large contributions made during the 12th century by the Jewish population of Montpellier to both the commercial and medical communicate no doubt playing a large role in Montpellier’s Medical School being the oldest one still operating in Europe.

20151002-065458.jpg

20151002-065547.jpg

20151002-065608.jpg

Of course there were also just some good views of a working city with some awesome old passages through which one can wander.

20151002-065835.jpg

20151002-065857.jpg

20151002-070047.jpg

After the tour, it was time to head to Avis to start the next part of my adventure. Getting there wasn’t too hard thanks to a good pointing in the right direction fro Ihla. And getting the keys wasn’t too bad either. Then it came to finding the car, the lot was no where near the counter, and the directions weren’t exactly clear. So after wandering for a while I went back to the counter for clarification. This time I found the lot, but was thinking the whole way there how hard it was going to be after I dropped the car off in 3 days to get all of my luggage from the lot to the train. Not only was the lot far away, the pavement wasn’t great, and in some cases didn’t even exist.

But with that behind me, it was time to figure out how to navigate the roads in France. This meant that it was time to tackle the dreaded roundabouts. And, they didn’t turn out to be that bad, for the most part. The only ones that drove met nuts the whole time were the ones with multiple lanes. And, thanks to Ihla, I had a GPS to help me find my destinations.

The first of these was the town of Aigues-Mortes. The town is unique in that it is situated right next to the sea, yet still has a fully preserved wall. Getting there wasn’t too hard and I also got very lucky and found a parking spot it a lot close to the tick of things.

But then came the trouble, I had a very new fangled car, with a remote ignition switch, I couldn’t figure out how to make sure the dang car was locked. Eventually I just figured out that I would take a risk and hope that the car was still there when I was ready to leave.

The next challenge was lunch. And a challenge it was, since most restaurants in France chug down between lunch and dinner and it was already the bewitching hour. Thankfully, I found a place that was still serving and had a nice meal of moules-frites.

20151002-132501.jpg

20151002-132531.jpg

With the hunger pangs gone, I could now be a tourist. Having had luck with the petit train two days back I started with that. This time it was once that could have been missed. I did get a few good looks at the walls from the backside of the city, but not much more.

20151002-132945.jpg

20151002-133006.jpg

20151002-133028.jpg

After the train, I kept seeing people on top of the wall, but couldn’t figure out how to get up there. Eventually I found the entrance and was able to walk around the entire perimeter. Well, almost run, as it was getting pretty late and I wanted to get back the the chateau in time for the line dancing and pot luck that evening, not to mention before dark.

So I moved quite quickly, stooping to get photos along the way, but not having time to read the information available.

20151002-133623.jpg

20151002-133639.jpg

20151002-133822.jpg

20151002-133746.jpg

20151002-134230.jpg

There were also some good views of the neighboring salt flats.

20151002-134410.jpg

20151002-134431.jpg

At the end of the tour, I was able to climb one of the towers to see it as well as to get some new cool views.

20151002-134657.jpg

20151002-134719.jpg

20151002-134733.jpg

20151002-134752.jpg

With the whirlwind tour behind me, it was time to get back in the car, yes – it was still l there, and head back to the chateau. This time, the GPS wasn’t quite as kind to me. Yes, it eventually got me to where I needed to be, but some of the roads it had me take looked more like sidewalks. And at one time I was high up in some hills, heading down some switchbacks on said sidewalks.

And, even though I had left at a reasonable time, I was worried that I wasn’t going to get back before dark. It seemed that every time checked the expected arrival time, it was later than before. And this type of thing would continue to plague me the next day, when it seemed as if I would drive 2 minutes, and have 3 minutes added to my remaining driving time.

Needless to say, I made it back. A bit shaken from the experience, and sadly not in time for the line dancing. But safe, and in time for some wine and the potluck.

Want to know when I've added a new entry? Simply click the button below and you will get an email whenever I post.

Join 27 other followers

Select What You Want to Read

Advertisements