|Subject: Spain Trip, Day 6-Part 1 (Collioure)|
Please excuse the lengthy interval between posts. I'm in the process of
changing employment, painting the bedroom, planning two trips,...etc.
After an excellent night's sleep we arose early to a beautiful sunshine-filled Spring morning. our accommodations had included a unique aspect to our bedding which we would encounter a couple of more times on this trip#the monopillow. Instead of each side of the bed having its own individual pillow there was one long bolster-type pillow that crossed the width of the bed. Fortunately we had brought small individual pillows for the long flights which served to allow us some personal preferences for our sleeping comfort. A curious thing this monopillow. After brewing a couple of cups of coffee and attending to the previous night's wash we struck out in search of le petite dejeuner (breakfast).
It was such a beautiful day that we were immediately drawn out to the breakwater for views of the early morning light shimmering on the calm water. We were mesmerized looking up and down the coast but when we turned around and looked back towards the town the light's magic really came into play. The play of light and shadow on the pastel surfaces of the buildings rising up the hills was fantastic. It was readily apparent why the fauvists had selected Collioure as the sight to engage in their painting. After a few moments of enjoying this view we had to plunge into the streets of this town and chase the sun through the twists and turns of the steep alleys.
After we had made our way up the hill through the Vieux Quartier du Mouré, enjoying the flower-filled streets on our climb, we came to a dead-end street whose houses sat on the bluff overlooking the Mediterranean. These four homes had created a beautiful garden over the rocky hillside fronting their property and our arrival coincided with the sun's brilliant rays unleashing the different hues of yellow, red and purple among the blooming flowers. Both Sara and I wondered at the thought of spending two weeks inhabiting one of these ideally placed properties. Turning back towards the Vieux Quartier we passed the gate to Fort Miradou an operational French military base where elite forces (analogous to U.S. Navy Seals) train for their dangerous missions. While in Collioure we had several chance meetings with the soldiers; jogging past us on the steep cobblestone alleys, paddling quietly off the beach in their gray kayaks, or zipping up the coast in their motorized zodiacs.
Once we had returned to the center of town we stopped in at a bakery and purchased some cookies and pastries for breakfast. One more stop for some croquant Catalan, hard almond cookies not unlike biscotti, before we returned to our room for packing. Because we were uncertain how long the self-guided tour of the Chateau Royal would take we opted to checkout taking our bags to the car. Collioure seemed like an unlikely place for thievery and the bags would be out of sight..., fortunately, all turned out well. A quick stop at the post office before the tour of the chateau brought me feelings of deja-vu. And then I realized that years ago while taking French classes there had been lessons centered around A visit to the post office and Let's go shopping. Although this was my first visit to France I was experiencing this odd sense of familiarity which I can only attribute to these old memories of French class. At the same time vocabulary was surfacing from the deepest recesses of my brain's language center.
The Château Royal is an imposing castle that juts into the port bisecting it into the Port d'Amont and Port d'Avall. In the 13th and 14th centuries it was the summer home of the Kings of Majorca and then was taken by the Kings of Aragón (such as Ferdinand). The castle is heavily fortified due to its strategic location along the coast. The self-guided tour takes one from the underground passages to the ramparts and sentry towers. There are spectacular views of the port and town, as well as, the Albères mountains looming above the sea. With only a few other people touring the grounds we lingered enjoying the various views and marveling at the massive structure.
Afterwards we elected to join the many townspeople enjoying a late morning espresso on the central street. Soon we found ourselves reclining at an outdoor café table sipping coffee and partaking in the warm caress of the late morning sun with the local dogs stretched out at our feet. This moment will be imprinted on my mind forever. If I were to never make it back to France (and believe me I will) this half-hour in Collioure would be enough to endear that magical place to me for the rest of my life.
Next stop,... Carcassone.
I've uploaded a couple of photos to the Travelzine website which is relevant to this day of our trip. You can see it at http://www.egroups.com/files/TheTravelzine/
John Rule San Diego, CA