Tuesday, September 19, 2017

La Ville Rose

I left Morocco in the darkness.  My flight on Ryanair was scheduled for 6:35am, so I had to be there at 4:35am.  But I received an email yesterday that because of security issues, I had to arrive an extra hour earlier.  So I got to the airport at 3:35am.  It was a waste.  The counter didn't open until 4am, and I was the first one in line and the first one through security.  I was sitting alone in the departure terminal by 4:15am, glaring at the slowly ticking clock.

The flight was uneventful.  Ryanair is not known for its comforts, and that was the case.  The seat wouldn't recline and I had so little space I kept bumping my knees against the seat in front of me, and I am not so tall.  But it passed without issue and we arrived on time to Toulouse.

I passed through passport control and customs without issue and caught the shuttle into the city.  The world had changed greatly from my previous Moroccan existence.

I wandered through the suddenly wide, empty and unlittered streets until I found my hostel.  I dropped my bags and went wandering through the pink city of Toulouse.  The city has a dusky pink color from its terracotta bricks.  I marveled at the autumn I had arrived upon; Morocco was just starting to cool down, but France is already into Autumn with a cool breeze and changing colors of the leaves.  I smiled  at how charming it was under the beautiful blue skies with big fat clouds.

I will always love Morocco, but the prospect of immersing myself in a French environment is what I need at the moment.  In Morocco, there was always too many Arabic distractions to focus on my French skills.  As I sat in a leafy park with my eyes closed--listening to the French banter, I knew this was the right choice to come here.

Anyway, I wandered around the city through a tangle of pink alleyways until I came upon a market.  CHEESE!  I followed my nose until I found a little fromagerie in the market.  I got a nice block of a hard cow's milk cheese for 2.5 euros and a little wheel of hard stinky chevre for a euro.  I picked up a crusty baguette to go with my stinky cheese.  There was a wine shop with giant vats of local wine.  I picked up half a litre for 75 centimes.  And I was set.

I wandered out of the market to Pont St. Michel but realized the bridge and river were not the right place for a picnic so I wandered back toward the Jardin Royaume for a picnic by a pond.  I ate the stinky cheese and crusty bread, washed down by the surprisingly good wine (Best dollar wine ever, with hints of sour cherry) as I tossed hunks of bread to the ducks.

Because what is a sabbatique without La Belle France?  And what is a sabbatique without a good midday picnic of stinky cheese, crusty bread and good cheap wine?

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