Friday, May 6, 2011
Monday, May 2
Since we had some time, we decided to trek over to Olargues. The Michelin Green Guide description has this to say: "This village with its steep streets occupies a promontory encircled by the River Jaur. The village skyline is dominated by a tower, the vestige of an 11C feudal fortress that was converted into a bell-tower in the 15C."
The drive to Olargues, about 45 minutes away, is scenic as we drive into the Hérault valleys. Little towns can be seen clinging to the hillsides or down in the valleys along the rivers that carve through this region. We see good views of Mont Caroux where Dave, Christie and Katie hiked a few weeks back.
We walked through the old down which delivers on its promise of picturesque-ness. The old part of town is sleepy, although in fairness, it is the lunch hour. There are few businesses and they are all closed - many looking like they are permanently closed. There are even fewer people on the streets and the few we see are all tourists like us. But the narrow, dark streets are cool against the heat of the sun and in spite of treacherous ascents and descents on crumbly stairways and cobbled streets, we are able to navigate the few streets up to the tower and back down without falling on our faces.
Dave walks down as far as the 13C humpback bridge to take a few photos while I study some of the medieval architecture of the town center. I am constantly intrigued by the doors and shutters of all the old buildings we see. Obviously built to last, one finds them in good repair and bad, brightly painted and faded by years of sun. While shutters don't vary as much as doors, the windows they protect do. Some are flower filled, others are filled with laundry hanging out on drying racks or specially rigged clothes lines. The windows can be unkempt and seemingly ignored for ages or spotlessly clean and decorated. All of them remind me that there are people living behind the windows and I often wonder what their lives are like. Where do they work? How do they humpf their groceries and other purchases up the hill to their doors (and then up the steps of the several floors of living space), especially when getting a car or delivery van up the street looks next to impossible. What do their houses look like inside? There are clues in the various wires that are strung across the plaster of the houses. Clearly there are wires for Internet, electricity, and perhaps even TV. There are often satellite discs on roofs or sides of buildings for TV reception.
We can't find any place open to stop for a drink, so drive home via another route. We must be up early on Tuesday morning as Duane and Judy arrive at 8:55 AM in Barcelona.