Wow. What else can you say about five weeks driving through western Europe? This has really been one of the aims of the Spanish adventure; to take advantage of the opportunities to explore Europe. And this may be the only opportunity we ever have to do all of this.
Life is good. The vacation was wonderful, but five weeks is a loooong time to be on the road. Or maybe not, by European standards; other friends of ours have been doing comparable trips. There are just so many wonderful places in the world to see. This time we tried to balance the cultural sites with nature. Cities are great, but museums, cathedrals and the like can get old after a while, even when you enjoy them. There is so much to write about that we’re going to split it between a number of blog entries. You can see the first set of pictures at:
We started the vacation with a night train to Barcelona, and then a quick train across the border to Perpignan, France. We rented a car and tootled our way north and west. By now, we’re old hands at navigating our way across Europe; we don’t need no stinkin’ GPS.
Our drive began in Languedoc, home of the medieval Cathars or Albigensians. This area wasn’t part of the kingdom of France until the 1200’s, when Pope Innocent III declared a crusade to eliminate the Albigensian heresy (and, of course, to assist France’s King Louis VIII in a land grab). It took 20 years to conquer and annex the area. Looking at the rugged mountains and the isolated castles, you can see why it took so long.
We continued north and stopped to see the Cro-Magnon cave paintings in the Dordogne Valley. Fascinating, it is amazing the detail. They used the cave walls much the way one might see a picture in the clouds. In the dim, flickering light, the pictures have a three dimensional quality and even seem to be moving.
We met some friends in Paris, and spent a week touring around the city. A trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower is more than worth the wait. Versailles, the Louvre, Monet’s gardens…one can drown in Paris. Although, I am not sure what all the hoopla over the Mona Lisa is. The “must see” Da Vinci´s are in Milan.
After Paris, it was on to the French Riviera for a few days. From there, we went on to Italy, but that will be the subject of the next blog entry.