You know, I thought that train ticket to Arles, even with the senior discount, was cheap. I'd priced some other trips over the last few months, and it seemed to me they cost more per mile than that. As it turns out, I was right: despite my saying, very clearly and several times, the word "retour" to the ticket agent, she sold us two one-way tickets.
But then again, it's not like anyone ever checked the tickets. You have to stick them in a little yellow machine that buzzes and then stamps the station and date and time on them, but that seems to be the extent of the security. If I hear that the French rail system's going broke, I guess I'll know why. Meanwhile, it's down to the station for the latest timetables for the regional system.
The reason for this is the eminently sensible suggestion by etnobofin on my last post that I might enjoy a trip to Narbonne. I researched that -- it being about the same distance in the other direction -- and that's where I realized we'd cheated on the tickets. But a round trip to Narbonne costs €22, and an additional €5 gets me into all the museums and so forth. So that's my celebration when the next paycheck arrives.
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And, as if the cosmos was listening to me, Thursday through Saturday last week, the department of Pyrénées-Orientales set up a big tourism tent on the Comédie. They'd been here before, and I had a bunch of their brochures, as I realized walking through the tent. It was the usual clump of wineries, jam-makers, candy-makers and so on that all these tourist exhibitions have (there was a saffron farm, too, selling its wares at the highest prices I've ever seen for that already-pricey spice), but the tourist agency had a brochure I picked up that had a longstanding fantasy embedded in it.
For some time I've been wanting to take the train to Perpignan, get a room, rent a car, and go driving into the countryside. Well, this brochure is all about that. The prehistoric sites, the Romanesque churches, and all the rest. This fantasy will cost a bit more to realize, of course, but not hugely so, and my guess is there will be stories lurking around there. Then, of course, it's a question of finding someone to take them. But I've been spared a bunch of aimless wandering, at any rate. Still, Narbonne first. Stay tuned.
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Finally, a decision to play with my computer has led to a really excellent look at the past year. Bored with the desktop pictures Apple had provided, I noticed there was a button in the desktop pictures function to include pictures from the iPhoto library, and checked "Past Year." Now I have a slideshow of every picture I've taken, many for this blog, and it's an amazing jog to the memory. (That's where I got the picture of the building with the Languedoc cross at the top of this post, for instance). The downside is all those pictures I took of the fruit and vegetables from the market: I'll see strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, and so on and want to rush out and get them. Of course, they're not there now, which is both frustrating and a welcome reminder that the seasons will cycle and they'll be back.
There's another frustration, too, which I noticed last night trying to boil pasta water, make a sauce, and cook some vegetables: I only have two burners on my stovetop. This, however, makes me realize that the oven, which I don't use all that much, may step up during the winter. I should learn these local root vegetables and roast them and see if I like them. (I don't have many good memories of turnips and rutabagas and such, but tastes change). Or learn to roast meat, although that's hard to do for just one person and leftover roasts don't make such good eating. (Also, the cuts tend to be more expensive).
Of course, here, too, there's a fantasy, which I believe is realizable: move into a place with a decent kitchen, enough room to unpack my library, and have people over for dinner. Like the trip to the Pyrenees, this isn't going to happen overnight. Apparently one of the lessons I'm learning here is patience.