Monthly Archives: June 2017

Lisbon’s custard and beer tarts

What’s for breakfast?

If someone says, “Let’s go to Portugal!”, you probably think of Lisbon but our first stop was Porto since there’s a direct flight from Carcassonne that put us there in an hour and a half. It is truly what our next door neighbor here described as vibrante that we might call “lively” with a sense of excitement that we both felt when we arrived at the airport and especially once we were settled into our holiday rental apartment right in the middle of the tourist section. As much as we enjoyed our days there, we eventually had to move south to the nation’s capital, Lisbon, and then an hour and a half west to Evora, our true goal for this trip to visit the friends who had invited us there. Read the rest of this entry

Any port in Porto

Porto, Portugal

We’re both longtime fans of trains, having traveled extensively throughout Great Britain plus many western European countries, including France of course, using various unlimited passes to see as much of the countryside as we could. We find it so relaxing compared to flying and much less stressful than driving, especially when you can enjoy that afternoon wine and cheese while the landscape goes whizzing by the window. Naturally then, when friends suggested that we visit them in their new home in Portugal, I figured that we would just hop aboard a train and be there in no time. After all, they are just one country down and over a bit. Unfortunately that hop was going to take about 21 hours so we opted for a non-stop 2-hour flight from Carcassonne to the city of Porto, well-known for its port wine. Read the rest of this entry

Green alert

The Aude river through Carcassonne

Recognizing the importance of saving the planet from global warming, the French government now offers a 4-year grant to individuals who want to move to France to continue their research, studies, and/or instruction in fighting climate change.The program is open to citizens around the globe but was announced immediately following the withdrawal by the United States from the Paris climate agreement. Read the rest of this entry


Making coins the medieval way

If there’s one thing that you learn when you move overseas, it’s to be prepared. Whether it’s a government agency, a utility, or a private business you are meeting with, it always makes sense to take an original and at least one copy of any document that any of these officials have asked from you before. To open a bank account we anticipated the need for our passports and proof of address but a marriage certificate and tax forms weren’t at the top of our list. Luckily both were at the bottom of the file folder that we take to every appointment so it was easy enough to produce those. To cancel our prepaid renters’ insurance, we needed a handwritten statement swearing that we no longer lived at that address, but at least we could write that out on the spot (with a lot of guidance from the woman who helped us). What we weren’t prepared for was receiving a refund check for the remaining insurance that we weren’t going to use. How were we going to deal with that? Read the rest of this entry

Walk this way

The tour starts here

Ah, the sacrifices we make for our friends and family. First, we moved to the south of France just so that they would have an excuse to visit Europe. Once we got settled here in Carcassonne we had to check out all of the various things there are to see and do in our new hometown. Restaurants seemed like a natural starting point, so we’ve been visiting a new one every week with friends, Sally and Larry, so that we could make recommendations. After more than a year, we were only scratching the surface of activities so we’ve stepped up our efforts. We took a half-day walking tour of the lower part of town that still retains part of its walls from the 1200’s. We figured that hearing the history while looking at 17th century buildings would be interesting. Did I mention that we were drinking wine and eating chocolate while on this tour? Read the rest of this entry

A sporting weekend

Arriving riders with the castle behind

It seems as if there is some kind of festival here almost every weekend. They typically revolve around food and/or drink so to use up some of those calories, sports are often featured. This past Saturday the entire country celebrated La Fête du Velo and locally, hundreds of bicycle riders showed up at Carcassonne’s Place du General de Gaulle to participate. We got there early to see all of the colorful jerseys arrive and to check out the vendors who were promoting bikes with an electric motor plus a refund for buying one. Read the rest of this entry

Just say “no” to pot(s)

Miniature olive trees in pots

With the Mediterranean Sea only about a 30-minute train ride away, I guess that puts us into the climate with the same name. There’s a diet that goes with that too, featuring fresh foods we find in abundance grown around us such as fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fish, and red wine, but that’s for another blog post. What made me think about today’s topic was when we walked by a display of dwarf olive trees just begging to be taken home with the promise that they would never outgrow their pot. As promising as that sounds, it was going to be a problem for us. Read the rest of this entry