Touring Beziers. 4/12/19

Since I am very sore today we are planning on taking it somewhat easy and spend the day looking around Beziers. These are pictures from our day.

Mary at the wide esplanade named after Pierre-Paul Richet of Canal du Midi fame
At one end of the Pierre-Paul Allées is the mid-19th century theater built in the bijou-Italian style
Camel city logo from patron saint and cephalophore, St. Aphrodisius who was the first bishop of Beziers. He was Egyptian and rode into town on a camel. After Aphrodisius was martyred the townspeople took turns taking care of his camel
Nothing we enjoy more than going to European marketplaces. (Well, maybe churches)
You can buy the whole of everything here and parts as well. Whole lamb.
Whole goat
Dark red beef
We had pintade for lunch yesterday. Using a translator on their phones the stall owners showed us that a pintade is a guinea hen and comes from the savannahs of Kenya.
All kinds of cheese
We are thinking of having lunch here until we see the special ris d’agneau. It brings back the horror of eating ris de veau on our honeymoon. John told me mid-bite that it was brains of veal (actually thymus)
Next we head over to the Church of the Magdalene. It is located on the site where the 13th century massacre of Cathar heretics happened. Everyone in the town was killed by order of the Pope and those who sought refuge in the church were burned as they set fire to the church. Famous quote, “Kill them all, God will know his own.”
Next we visit St. Nazaire cathedral which is another combination of styles from various centuries. This has the look of a church/castle fortress and occupies the highest point in town
Exterior view
This church has a similar pew-kneeler set up as the one I tripped over in Perpignan.
View of the valley from the promenade outside the church
We have been tromping around since early this morning. Time for lunch! We stop for lunch at Le chameau ivre, a hip sort of place near our hotel
Beef carpaccio
Ling cod with too many peas
This was called tiramisu but it was just cream and crumbled up cookies
We go out again around 3 to look for a statue and some Roman ruins. The statue is of St. Aphrodisius up in a corner niche. The story goes that he was beheaded and his head was tossed in a well. A spurt of water flung the head out where it was picked up by the headless saint and carried around. Def. according to Wiki – A cephalophore (from the Greek for “head-carrier”) is a saint who is generally depicted carrying their own head. In Christian art, this was usually meant to signify that the subject in question had been martyred by beheading.

Going out again in the afternoon is a mistake as I am really tired and very sore. Oh, and also very grumpy so we head back to the room so I can take a nap and adjust my attitude. For dinner we decide we just want a hamburger which turns out to be harder to find than expected. After attempts at closed restaurants, fully-booked place, awful kebab place, we settle on a sports bar with sub-optimal burgers and greasy, horrible fries. We are done for today.

In edible microwaved patties in a pita pocket. The dish is called “the American.” We take one bite and leave.
Our sports bar dinner. We take out the bacon and try to scrape off the orange goo and add a bunch of ketchup. Horrible fries.


Ill-fated day in Perpignan 4/11/19

We get up early because it is time to disembark. It is a much more leisurely proposition when you have your own plans rather than Viking’s. So we have room service breakfast and depart around 8 AM for the airport to pick up our rental car.

Candid photo of John eating breakfast

Everything goes smoothly at the car rental and we get some sort of Peugeot SUV. It is only about two hours to our planned stop in Perpignan, France.

What starts out as a lovely morning in Spain  turns into a really chilly and windy day in France. The wind is so strong it is hard to open the car doors when we have a pit stop just over the French border. It must be the cold Mistral wind that we have experienced in southern France before. Brrr.

Snow on the Pyrenees.

We reach Perpignan and find a parking space and make our way into the old city to try to find the cathedral. We end up finding the Church of St. James instead but, hey, it is a church so we  go in to take a look.

Romanesque entrance from the 13th century and…
weird bell tower from the 18th.

We look around. The church-minder is nice enough to turn the lights on for us. The church is pretty gloomy and macabre looking even with the lights on. There is an interesting wood-carved and painted altarpiece and a statue of St. James, the traveler, with his scallop shell hat.

St. James

We depart the church and make our way to the cathedral through a very sketchy part of town. The buildings and the people are in sad shape and the litter is blowing around in the strong wind. I feel quite uncomfortable walking down the mostly deserted streets.

Of course I am just being paranoid and we reach the cathedral square without incident. The cathedral is also a mishmash of styles with different elements from various centuries. The cathedral was begun in 1326 in the Catalan Gothic style, because this area was part of the Kingdom of Majorca. The cathedral’s western façade was never finished and was restored in the 19th and 20th centuries and it has a portico and bell tower from the 18th century.

The interiors of these churches are quite dark with little light coming in through the stained glass windows.
Stained glass windows in Perpignan Cathedral
Front facade of Perpignan Cathedral

And now why this is an ill-fated day. In my haste to get an overall shot of the nave I neglect to step over a wooden spanner that connects the chair-like pews to the kneeler in front of them. Now even though I have been so thrilled by my miracle left knee which has performed beautifully over the course of the vacation, it is no match when I start to fall. So I trip with my right foot, my left knee crumples with the force of my falling and I end up on the floor between the pew and the kneeler. On the way down, which in my mind has taken on a slow motion quality, I smash my left hip and hand against the pew (all the time trying to keep my iPhone out of harm’s way) then ricochet off the pew with my right upper arm hitting the kneeler while the bulk of me is landing on the floor. I actually thought, ow, I think my right shoulder is dislocated. This causes quite a commotion in the echo-y Church. John and two British couples come running over. I am face down on the floor between the pews with my legs sticking out in the aisle. Please everyone go away and just let me lie here for a bit while I do a mental check of what has been damaged! But of course I say, don’t worry. I am fine. But the Brits want to help me up. So they start pulling at my shoulders which is really painful and I am trying to get on my knees which are banged up. After a few false starts I tell them to just let me do this on my own. This is tricky though because I cannot use my right arm to push up with because I have injured my shoulder. Finally I am upright still telling everyone that I am fine and they should continue on with their sightseeing. John has wisely not tried to get me up since he knows that what I really want to do is continue lying on the floor.

So ultimately my damage is a sore left knee and a giant bruise on my hip and a right arm that cannot reach out or up but I can use it from my elbow as long as my shoulder is not involved. I am pretty sturdy and have not broken anything.

We finish up at the cathedral with John taking pictures since I cannot hold the camera up and make our way into the square in search of some lunch.

Square in front of the church
Cute lunch place
This is a pintade which we assume is some sort of chicken with some veg (and too many peas!)

I can eat with my right hand by keeping my upper arm pinned to my chest and leaning forward from the waist but I cannot reach for my wine glass. Horrors! I have to drink left-handed. Tricky but doable.

We return to the car and finish our trip to Beziers where we will spend three nights looking at  Beziers and surrounding towns and taking a day trip up to Carcassonne. After only two passes we find our hotel which is on a pretty plaza or “place” in French. I just want to take some ibuprofen and lie down.

XIX Hotel in Beziers, France
Nice room overlooking the square

We go out for dinner at a nearby brasserie, Le Crystal. It is kind of like a French diner. We order something that has calamari in it. It turns out that it is all fried but okay we have to adjust to only knowing some of the French menu item words. The salad is good. Then it is back to the hotel to see if there is any comfortable way to sleep.

Fried calamari and fish balls with salad