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Posts Tagged ‘La Cité’

A selection of photos I took on a beautifully sunny day in Carcassonne (17-3-2010)

There are loads more here.

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Over the past few weeks I have been watching the street decorations appear slowly. First the overhead lights on each of the streets around the square, then the sapin branch archways dotted along the streets, the construction of the patinoire (ice rink) in place carnot, the luge (toboggan slide) for the little children on the square near the train station and the fair on place gambetta. Yesterday was the opening ceremony, I’ve recently discovered that there was a traditional march and would have loved to have seen it but wasn’t informed about it so didn’t get to, which is a little sad. I did my own little march today though. Christmas fair on Square Gambetta

This morning, after I lay in bed for a while sleeping off the previous night’s Dutch Sinterklaas soirée, I got ready, cleaned my apartment and then headed out for a wander around Christmassy Carcassonne. As I entered the square I could smell, hear and see Christmas (and many children!). The queue for the patinoire was long and there were many many faces wooshing around the rink, I even spotted some of my students. I weaved in and out of all the people and huts selling various things and I headed towards Pont Vieux – Cité bound. I leisurely strolled up the hill to the beautiful castle, found a bench and alternated between reading my book and watching the world go by, it was a really nice relaxing afternoon! I strolled back down after about an hour and a half, weaved back in and out of the huts and people. Now I’m home, I’m relaxed and I’m about to eat a samosa I bought from one of the huts. It’s 2 weeks today until I return for Christmas, and whilst I absolutely cannot wait to be home I know I will miss this little town for the 2 weeks that I’m not occupying it.

The view from my book-reading bench.

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This weekend a good friend came from Lyon to visit me here in Carcassonne; she arrived with the preconception that it was a quiet and beautiful town and left feeling that whilst it was beautiful it was drama-central!

The Friday night we went for a quiet meal and had an evening of catch-up on each other’s lives, it was nice. The Saturday we let ourselves wake up naturally, got ready, went to the boulangerie, bought a beautiful cake each and then sat on a bench to watch the hustle and bustle of the Saturday morning market. (When I say “watch the hustle and bustle” I really mean I spotted a man that I would quite like to marry and set about creating plans on how I could make that scenario come about). About half way into our cakes a man walks buy, apparently hears our English and back-tracks a few steps. “You speak English non?” “Oui, nous sommes anglaise”. Error. He plops himself down on the bench next to us and drawls on at us in incomprehensible English. We tell him we don’t know what he’s saying so he drawls on at us in almost incomprehensible French instead asking us if we’d like to spend the last day of our holiday with him (okay, we lied, he doesn’t need to know I fully live here!) We turned him down and he replied “ah dommage” and wandered off. I’m pretty sure he was stoned.

After that minor incident we headed up to La Cité and did some shopping. We found a lovely little restaurant and decided to have lunch. I chose this as my time to have my first taste of traditional Carcassonian cassoulet. It was so amazing that right now I am craving it – who craves cassoulet at 7pm? Me, that’s who!

We finished our afternoon off with a nap which saw us into the early evening, we then got up, got ready and headed to a friend’s for pre-drinks before heading to our local bar. As we got to the bar we saw that one of the windows and the window in the door were smashed as we walked in we were told by the barman to be careful of the glass and that he wasn’t serving drinks for the moment because they were just waiting for the police. As the police and the firefighters arrived, took statements and carried a man away on a stretcher,  we were filled in on the story. I’m not 100% sure what the reasoning was behind the attack on the bar but metal bars were used to smash through the two windows by men who were angry about something thus injuring one man and shaking up many others. When the police left the bar was back in service and we ordered a drink, sat ourselves down around our normal table near the window and assured my visiting friend that this was not a regular occurrence  in Carcassonne. No sooner had we maid that claim there was sudden smashing noises, I could feel liquid splashed on me and without even realising it we were all darting to the back of the bar. The violent guys had returned and were lobbing glass bottles of some sort of liquid at the windows and the front of the bar. We were so lucky that one didn’t come straight through the window near us and injure us – from where I was sat I could’ve been badly hurt, as could most of the other people sat around the same table. Shaken up wasn’t the word! The landlady had tears in her eyes, the police were called again and the bar was closed and we were sent away… reassuring my friend, encore une fois, that Carcassonne is in fact quite a tranquil town. I’m not sure she believed it though.

Definitely my most dramatic weekend in Carcassonne!

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Anxiety. That’s what it’s all about. It has finally hit me, that feeling that washes over me and brings me to the brink of breakdown is due to my over-worrying nature. If I didn’t worry about things this year would be amazing (although, of course if I didn’t worry about things I wouldn’t be human). Despite being more prepared for lessons than ever, thank you to my bedridden Toussaint holiday, I headed off to school, for the first day back after Toussaint, worried about everything I could possibly worry about. Everything went fine. There was no need to worry, at all, so why do I do it so often? I’m not sure if I think so little of myself that I’m sure I’m going to screw up majorly. Surely I don’t have that little faith in myself!

I’ve got ulcers and bad skin as a result of the fact I am quite stressed and run down at the moment. However, in my breakdown curing skype call to my dad last night we talked about a lot of things to take my mind off the fact I was actually having a breakdown and one of those things was cooking. I’ve recently realised that cooking soothes me, I really enjoy it and also is the key to not only physical but mental health, I’ll be doing more and more of it. I’m going to teach myself to cook different meals in order to relieve my tensions.

45 days until I go home for Christmas and I am really looking forward to it, if only to see my parents again. I’ve got many things to do in this time to make it fly. Italian cuisine night tomorrow chez another assistant, my best friend is coming to visit me in 14 days, I need to visit La Cité to do Christmas shopping for my family, regular lesson plans, Christmas lesson plans (I must admit, I may be a little more excited than the children) and other mundane daily/weekly chores/living/rituals. Things like this make me realise that I can definitely do this, no matter what this experience throws at me I’m in it until the end. Definitely not getting off this ride until it is over.

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