Today we visited Carcassonne. It was lovely! Like many of the places we have visited, there were almost no people. We have been told most Spanish and French people vacation in July and August.
Check out my new Dali t-shirt. It was hot and sunny walking the wall!
We walked around the outer walls with Sean hanging off of many of them! This was free of charge. There are still some structures dated to Roman time, but much of the castle has been restored or is being restored. In the 19th century, the city was restored to its medieval appearance.
I could have had a child who walks on the path instead I got a wall climber. Check out how far down it is! It does not have the same feel as Girona. If you want to feel like you are in an excellent restoration of the real thing, Carcassonne is great. If you want to feel like you are in the real thing Girona is better. Actually they were both very different, and it isn’t fair to compare one to the other. They are close and both are worth the visit. The old town of Girona still has people in it, but there is nothing in it as imposing and impressive as the castle Of Carcassonne.
After walking around the outside we ate and then paid to walk around the inner castle. There were more people here. Including a school group of teens all dancing in unison to a pop tune. I taped it, but with the Internet service I am getting I cannot post it.
We could have stayed inside Carcassonne, and for some people that would be their optimum choice. It was hot and touristy though. We all agreed, we preferred the Abbaye du Capservy. It was about 25 minutes away through the lovely French countryside, http://www.abbayedecapservy.com/en/.
Today Sean had us laughing. One of the things that differs from one country to the next are bathrooms and toilets. Sean went into a bathroom that locked on its own when you went in. It did not unlock until you washed your hands. Once you were out it completely disinfected itself. Sean was freaking out that it might lock with him in it.
This evening Odile made reservations for us in a restaurant in the small picturesque town of St Denis. We had the best pomme frites ever, a dish I do not usually like much. They were crisp on the outside and light & flakey on the inside. Then we treated ourselves to dessert. Every dessert including the citron sorbet was handmade by the owner. I was told this is called fait maison. Yum!
Leaving Girona for the Abbaye de Capservy, South of France
Before we left Girona we had to take one more walk on the wall. Again there was no one on it.
I am sitting on an old fashioned toilet. It would be an interesting feel to bare it all and go to the bathroom like this, LOL!
Did I remember to post the link to Casa Cundaro? Here it is in case I didn’t. http://www.casacundaro.com/english.html Casa Cundaro is attached to the Historic Hotel. Where we had to have one last superb breakfast.
Look how narrow the streets of Girona’s old town are! I got out to take this picture of our car.
Before leaving we visited the Jewish museum in Girona. We learned so much there. For instance, I did not realize many Jews converted instead of leaving. If they left they were essentially abandoning their material wealth. They did convert, but they did not always stop practicing their old ways. They also kept their relationships with those who did not convert. The museum has a large collection of gravestones. When Judaism was outlawed in Spain, the Jewish gravestones were removed. Many of these have since been unearthed as they have restored old buildings in Girona.
It was in the face of mass conversions without changes in religious practices that the inquisition took place. The Catholic Church wanted to make it prohibitive to live in Catholic countries if you were a practicing Jew. This did cause most people to become more obedient in practicing the Catholic faith. I have included a series of text panels from the museum with the photos.
That is a man I wish I could sit and speak with! Asking him so many questions 😉
Thinking of you, my dear friend Michelle! We wish you were here with us!
There are Roman ruins in the museum too.
We had one last stop to make. Sophia and I needed a cup of the best tea of the trip. http://www.teashop.eu/en/tea-shop-girona/
We decided to follow a circuitous path to France by driving to Collioure, France. We chose this route because it was the path of the Jewish diaspora from Girona in 1492. Since most people converted there was not a large number of people who left. It seems like a pattern. The Catholic Church converted the rulers, and the rulers forced people to convert or leave. Americans are most familiar with the treatment of people of the Jewish faith and the decimation or forced conversion of Native Americans. Interesting to me is that the most tolerant people, as a whole, of any country we have visited is the predominantly polytheistic people of India. Don’t you wish you could go back in time and see all the different cultures and people before the Romans conquered so many and before mass religions took hold? 1 month ago there was a threat to the Jewish museum in Girona so they now have guards posted at it permanently.
I LOVE history. I would like to go back to the time of the dinosaurs too! The only problem with that is, I would probably get eaten right away! When you drive through Europe you see castles on hilltops all the time. #AmericansLoveCastles
We drove to France along a narrow, twisting road. There were grape vines on the hillside and cyclists on the road. Shortly after passing the border into France, we came to the top of a pass and there was a wine stand with people tasting wine. LOL, that would not fly in the U.S. It was a windy road out of the Spanish town of Cerbere. When he saw it, Sean said, “That is the most French thing ever!”
When the Jews fleeing Spain got to Collioure they must have thought it would be wonderful to live in such a beautiful place. A couple of years later the French King told the Jews to convert or leave Collioure, so it was not to be.
We were headed to the Abbaye de Capservy. Our reason for driving to the south of France was to visit the restored castle of Carcasonne. Although we wanted to visit the castle, this time we chose to stay in an old abbey. http://www.abbayedecapservy.com/en/
When we arrived we were greeted by Odile and the 2 dogs in residence. Odile was making a special vegan meal just for us. The dinner consisted of a mound of rice, surrounded with smaller mounds of beans and various vegetable sides. French bread was also served, of course! The dessert was fresh fruit in a lemon agar jelly with elderberry. Days later we were still talking about the lovely abbey, the dinner (it was one of the best of the trip), and the wonderful hospitality of Odile. If you go be sure and have Odile make dinner for you. You will not regret it. You also get Lulu’s delicious wine and Odile’s conversation. Odile has two daughters who are both living in London. We met several people on this trip whose adult children are in London working because of a lack of jobs in their area. One of Odile’s daughters works in a castle as a tour guide. She loves it. While we were at the Abbaye, Odile’s daughter was interviewed on the radio about the castle and its history. I must email Odile and get the name of the castle!
The Abbaye de Capservy has the main building where we stayed, a smaller house behind, and another house where another couple lives. Across from the Abbaye are fields of grapes.
Odile, our wonderful host. I love to look in people’s kitchens.
On the long driveway leading to the Abbaye, Sean put his hand out the window into stinging nettles. The Abbaye has a pool, Sean recovered by going for a swim. Unfortunately he popped the peace donut!
The kids wanted to taste French wine in France.
We stayed in a family room at the top of the Abbaye. The ceilings were short which for us adds to the charm. There were rooms with higher ceilings, but we preferred this one!