Agde in 1 day

The first time that we had ever heard of today’s destination was when we were traveling for a day trip to Sète and the train announcement said that the next stop would be what sounded to us like “Ah-guh-duh”; three syllables for only four letters. A neighbor happened to be on the same train and while we were stopped at the station said to us, with a wink and a nod, “You know, there’s a nude beach here”. No, I can’t say that we knew that. Heck, we didn’t even know how to pronounce it! That was close to five years ago and since then we’ve learned that with about 500 beaches, campgrounds, and other naturiste places, France is the number one destination in the world for clothing-optional activities. However, that was not what drew us to this place on the Hérault river (photo above) that the Greeks in 650 BC called “Agathé Tyché” that translates to “Good Fortune”. 

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Bram in 1 day

From Carcassonne the railroad tracks go east, west, and south. In the last 6 years while living here we’ve used them to travel to other countries as far as London, Amsterdam, and Venice. Within France they’ve taken us to the borders with all eight surrounding countries plus the Atlantic Ocean, the English Channel, and the Mediterranean Sea. Although we’ve passed by the next station down the line from here, originally called Eburomagus (Yew Market) by the Romans in 600 BC, we were always on the way to a distant destination. With a journey time of only 10 minutes and a rail fare starting at 1 euro, it was time to hop aboard and visit the town now known as Bram.

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Walk a mile (or 5)

It’s been over 50 years since a Japanese inventor released his health-craze-creating pedometer that shared its name with that of the company that produced it: 10,000 Steps.  A study back then addressed the importance of walking and another was recently released that confirms those initial results: if you want to live longer and healthier you need to literally “take the steps” to do so. Apparently neither the intensity nor over what period of time daily that you exercise affects the results but it is cumulative; that is, compared to 4000 steps, taking 8000 steps reduces mortality by 51% or 65% for 12,000 steps in a 24-hour period. Since we don’t have a car we’re used to walking and given the long-distance travel restrictions we’ve had over the last year, seeing our local area on foot has been our main outdoor recreation. With 2000 years of history on our doorstep and a guide published by the city to lead the way, we’ve had plenty to explore right here at home.

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Preixan day trip

Circular Preixan from the town’s website

It’s been months since we’ve gone anywhere further than a 30-minute walk from our front door. In February we were in Florence just before Italy closed its borders and France started a 2-month lockdown when no one could be more than 1 kilometer (half-mile or so) from home. Once travel was again authorised it was initially limited to essential, nearby trips only until the summer vacation season arrived. With that as background we jumped at the chance to go out to lunch with friends Sally and Larry to a village about 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of Carcassonne. The drive down there may have only been 15 minutes but it was literally the change of scenery that we needed. Continue reading “Preixan day trip”

Plan that trip

Canal-du-Midi from Office de Tourisme Grand Carcassonne

In the old days, when our annual trips to Europe required a transatlantic flight, our planning began more than 11 months in advance because that was how far ahead we could book the airline tickets. We then had almost a year to do all of the fine tuning and to picture how we wanted our holiday to turn out. Once we moved here and started traveling almost exclusively by train, where tickets are generally available only 3 months in advance, we had to change our strategy. No longer did we have months of anticipation but only weeks and according to an article I read last month it’s that period of looking forward to your break that makes you feel better about life in general and specifically about your health, economics, and social situation. With the article titled, “Waiting for Merlot”, I just had to read it.  Continue reading “Plan that trip”

Into the countryside

Treats for the bees: Mediterranean scrub

Hardly a weekend goes by when there isn’t a festival in town that features locally grown and/or produced food products. Local artisans are proud of the work they do and the Mediterranean climate generally cooperates to provide bumper crops as it has done in this area for over 2000 years. We don’t have to wait for a fête, however, since we can just walk to the Saturday market and find everything we want, either just picked or freshly prepared. Olives were cultivated by the Greeks and then the Romans when they settled here and since the trees can survive for centuries there is still an abundance of the oils, tapenades, and even beauty products made from this durable plant. Sometimes it’s fun to travel outside of the city to the source of everything we see on display at the market and that’s exactly what we did last week when Sally and Larry suggested that we all pile into their car for “Last Chance Wine Tasting of 2019”. Continue reading “Into the countryside”

Be prepared

Taking the direct route from Marseille to Carcassonne

It’s been a long time since either Bill or I were actively involved with anything to do with the Boy Scouts but their motto has stuck with both of us and it follows us, especially on our travels. On our most recent train trip coming home from Marseille, an online mapping program showed our route as going on/over/through the Mediterranean Sea rather than on the tracks that hug the shoreline going through Nimes, Montpellier, and other cities you can see on the screen shot here. Luckily we kept our heads above water by consulting the paper itinerary we had printed out earlier to confirm the stops and the times we would be at each one. I like to do the same for city maps that come to the rescue when the mapping app on the phone displays, “Can’t find a way there.” Continue reading “Be prepared”