What a Week!

Sorry I am a bit tardy with my post this week–seems I neglected to charge my iPad during the night, and by the time I sat down in ernest to write, the darn thing was down to 3%, then died a few minutes later.  As Paul was busy writing his part, I needed to wait until after he had finished to get mine written!  And,  I had written a totally different post a few days ago, but Paul was lukewarm on it so I pitched it.  Oh well, can’t win them all!

So much happened this past week it’s hard to know where to start!

Our enjoyable, peaceful spot on the inlet (just a stone’s throw from Narbonne) came to a close Tuesday morning as we decided we wanted to find a place closer to the Mediterranean–which we never did accomplish the entire time we were in Spain.

I had picked up some post cards that pictured a beautiful village that was capped by an awesome and very ancient castle.  I suggested to Paul that he check it out online which he did with his usual thoroughness.  He found a nice aires right on the water and a short walk from the town.  It’s difficult to believe sometimes when you are in the middle of a city, that such a peaceful and beautiful village like Gruissan exists–but it does!

As we left Narbonne we made our way past numerous vineyards, rocky outcroppings and other visual delights.  We found the aires without difficulty and “dropped anchor.”

Shortly after our arrival we thought it best to do a bit of exploring whilst we still had the light.  As we made our way towards the town, we found ourselves flanked by large marinas full of mostly ghastly plastic “pop-out” boats as we call them in the states.  I’m afraid I don’t care much for these modern character-less boats.  I know they have their place, but do nothing aesthetically for me.

We walked on towards the old town and the surrounding lagoon that abuts it.  Numerous wild life and birds (including pink flamingoes!) habitate here.  There are also numerous walking and biking trails.  How I wished I had my bike to take advantage of them.  It would have been fun exploring the area.

The next morning following breakfast, Paul took off for the walk around the lagoon–his “me time.”  As the morning was too beautiful and warm to remain indoors, I decided to take the girls for a walk along the waterfront at the aires adjacent to our parking spot, and then return and spend some quiet time of my own in one of our lounge chairs soaking up all those D3 rays and catching up on my reading.  It was quiet and delightful–just what I needed?

Later that afternoon Paul and I took off to explore the village and especially the castle atop it.  When we reached the path that led to the castle there was an imposing barred gate stating it was closed. We were both disappointed–but then Paul tried the latch, and low and behold, the gate opened and away we went.

Luckily the path is steep but bordered by iron rails.  I am not crazy about heights, but I acquiesced to the fear, reminding myself to “do something that scares me” every day.  So up I went with Paul cheering me on, and I am SO glad I did, as I was in awe of the sweeping views.  On one side was the lagoon and surrounding rocky hills, and on the other side, the tile-capped houses of the village with the Mediterranean just beyond.  We were the only ones there and it was such a magnificent place to be at dusk.

On Wednesday we decided to uproot ourselves once again and make our way slowly inland to Carcasonne and then back to Esperaza by the weekend to once again take advantage of the superb Sunday market.  We also had an appointment with our friend Gary to take our Christmas portrait photos

We wanted to explore the spots along the Canal du Midi and hopefully come upon some boating people who lived aboard for the winter. Paul found a great spot on the canal about 45 minutes from Narbonne named Homp.  Hmmm, wonder where they found that name??

When we arrived there we found a great spot right next to the canal beside the village, and we were the sole inhabitants.

We decided on a quick jaunt by the canal, but that was cut short after about 5 minutes due to a bit of a downpour.  We then returned to the Hymer so I could prepare a bit of lunch.  After doing the cleaning up I noticed there was water leaking out at the base of the tap.  Paul fiddled around a bit and then we decided to abandon the attempt to fix it.  After a short call to Oaktree Motorhomes back in the UK we knew there was no way to turn off the water.

We found a place back in Narbonne that supposedly did repairs and away we went backtracking our path to the city.  When we arrived at said reply facility it turned out that they only sold motorhomes.  They then directed us back to the place we had been a few before where we had purchased a few needed items.  They couldn’t have been nicer, and booked us in for the repair the following morning.  So rather than spend the night in a miserable parking lot, we made the 20 minute trip back to Gruissan.  Paul picks up the story at this point in regards to our daft German neighbor.  I must admit, we have been fairly lucky up to this point with not ticking people off–minus the Dutch bloke in Fanjeau who raged about our generator.

The fix was prompt and off we went towards Carcasonne with a brief stop along the way to check out more boats on the canal.  Much to our chagrin, we came up empty handed.  Oh well, neither of us was too bothered about returning to our beloved aires in Esperaza, so away we went.  And ended up being the only one’s there on a Friday night.

Saturday turned out to be another glorious day and we headed for a quick hike up the mountains, me sporting my new Leki-like hiking sticks.  I had taken a nasty fall on a wet floor at a store 1 and 1/2 years ago and still experience issues when hiking on uneven ground, especially when going down hills.  These poles are like shifting into 4 wheel drive!  I felt great until towards the end of the steep decent into the town, then my hip starting acting out.  That nights I was in some discomfort, but by the next day the spasms had stopped.  I used some Biofreeze and it really helped.

That night we needed to fill up with water, and found the waterpoint at the aire inop—so away we went to Quillan just down the road to the Aires there.  We found out we needed a token (jeton) and I figured the police station might be able to help us with that.  No luck.  Then I remembered spotting the water spigot with potable water running out of a bronzed lion mouth in Esperaza.  So under the cloak of darkness away we went.  Over an hour later Paul had managed to fill the tank half full–enough for the washing up and showers the next day.

Sunday market day started out clear but cold.  We had a quick breakfast then bundled up for our trip to the market with bag in hand.  We came up with a few new delights and old favorites as well.  And of course we were able to mingle with all the lost-in-the-60’s crowd which we always find amusing.  We returned to the Hymer and shortly thereafter, our friend Gary showed up—toting a couple of boxes of the most delicious dessert items I have ever eaten–no sugar, no dairy, no gluten.  They were AMAZING!  We then put on our finery and Gary took our Christmas photos which we will be sending out this coming week to friends and family.

The day was so nice, Gary asked us if we wanted to take a short walk and away we went—up the hill I had just traversed the day before.  Luckily it was a leisurely pace and I made it back no worse for the experience.  It was a marvelous day and at the end of it all, we were ready to get ourselves together to head up our mountain for the next day.

We are now there—at “our” aire at beautiful Rennes le Chateau–the one with the awesome views.  Tomorrow we will set out for the trails and I will be able to give my new hiking poles a further break in.


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Cynthia Smith

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