Paris – Everything but the Siren

Posted by Pat on October 31, 2019 in Travel |

29-30 October 2019

Sleeping soundly in Toulouse. Message from SNCF, definitely NOT something I want to wake to find. I believe France is the only country in the world with a mobile APP monitoring strikes. It has come in handy, but sudden cancellations and changes mean an unpleasant wake up call. What? Our train is not departing our station? Then where is it going?

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Toulouse, France

Posted by Pat on October 29, 2019 in Travel |

28 October 2019

Le Pont Neuf

I like Toulouse. I can’t be much more enthusiastic than that. It is well-located for visiting some great sites in this southern part of France, like marvelous Carcassonne. It is on the road to Andorra. I has some nice parks, pathways along the historic Canal du Midi and River Garonne, big churches and bigger streets and squares.

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Andorra – A Micro-Love Affair

Posted by Pat on October 29, 2019 in Travel |

27 October 2019

I could not have chosen a better day to visit Andorra.

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Carcassonne, France

Posted by Pat on October 28, 2019 in Travel |

26 October 2019

Ancient fortress of La Citė of Carcassonne

Just 60 miles southeast of Toulouse is the picturesque hilltop village of Carcassonne. I love old fortified cities and Carcassonne is absolutely one of the best!

Carcassonne has dominated this hilltop since the New Stone Age which began about 12,000 years ago when the first farming of domestic crops and a domestication of animals began. Also referred to as the Neolithic period, the era lasted in Europe until about 1700 BC.

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Lourdes, France

Posted by Pat on October 26, 2019 in Travel |

24-25 October 2019

Snow! Yikes!

The jagged peaks of the Pyrenees, just a few miles to the south, are covered in snow. The view, as our train approaches Lourdes, is spectacular. I expect cold.

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San Sebastián, Spain

Posted by Pat on October 24, 2019 in Travel |

21-23 October 2019

Jumping back on the Euskotren, we return to the Basque stronghold of Donostia, or San Sebastián as we call this fabulous city curling around the Bay of Biscay. With the Pyrenees Mountains to the east, tree-covered Mount Urgull and Mount Igueldo hugging either side of the bay, pristine beaches and a plethora of Pintxos, what’s not to love?

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Bilbao, Spain

Posted by Pat on October 21, 2019 in Travel |

19-20 October 2019

Traversing the southwestern region of France and getting to my destination in Spain taught me a new lesson: train travel in Europe is not perfect. I found it convoluted and less than direct to get from Bayonne, France through San Sebastián and on to the Basque city of Bilbao. Distances are not that much but there seems to be no easy, direct public transport. And, add to that an unannounced SNCF strike, cancelled trains and late TVGs, we pretty much have a long, ugly transportation day ahead.

Aboard Euskotren to Bilbao

We travel by a TGV train from Bayonne, past Biarritz south to the border at Hendaye. There, a blue Euskotren metro will take us to the Amara station in San Sebastián. Because I would like to proceed on to Bilbao, we connect with another Euskotren to Bilbao’s Zazpikaleak station. Making it more palatable is the scenery of mountains both low and tall, deep ravines, rocky streams, trees beginning to show fall colors, glimpses of blue bays, and countless charming family gardens. More than eight hours and about 110 miles later, we arrive in Bilbao.

Take me to a Pintxos bar and a glass of Rioja!

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