We spent 10 hours traveling yesterday from Bath to Perpignan, a small coastal city in the South of France. We wanted to end our weeks here so we could relax from the hustle and bustle of the big cities and just chill out and drink wine and eat yummy food and go to the beach. Perpignan is hot – 28degrees currently and staying around 30 for our duration. Coming from balmy England it is almost, dare I say, too hot for me.
We eventually arrived 45 minutes late from our train, which hit another tree on the ride here. The station in Paris, Gare De Lyon is extremely non-English and took us a bit to find our way to our train. It was a good train ride, beautiful scenery as we passed Carcassonne, Narbonne and a few other French cities that have a strong Catalan influence. When we arrived we grabbed a taxi, and I proudly said in my extremely limited French, “Je suis desole, Je ne parle pas francais, parle-vous anglais?”, which the driver actually understood, but replied “un peu” which turned out to mean none. He said a bit, but I think the only thing I could understand was he told us we should go to the beach here. When we arrived, to our little back alley which cars can’t drive down, he told me it was 15 Euros, even though we’d been in the cab maybe 10 minutes. In Paris it was over 15 minutes and cost me 6 euros! So I didn’t have enough. Meaghen and I scraped together 10 Euros, and he said that was fine, not to worry, and to have a good vacation. Thank god we had an understanding driver. And cute. He was probably the cutest I’ve seen actually.
Carl, our host in our little apartment in Perpignan, is fantastic. We are again on the top floor, which I am grateful for in one huge way, but still lugging our luggage up the narrow stairs was a bit difficult. Didn’t matter, I love our little apartment. It is quaint, but a perfect home away from home with its open layout kitchen into living room with everything we’d need, its little window with the beautiful purple flower pots, and the awesome, comfortable bed in the alcove upstairs. Minimal, but perfect. Best part? Air conditioning! He gave us great directions to downtown and a little restaurant to grab food, so happy he speaks perfect English being an Australian, ( and lived in Vancouver for awhile ). However, we were both exhausted from a long travel day we decided to eat Jack Daniels chocolates, Razzles and tea and head to bed. One of the best sleeps I’ve had since traveling. We slept so long we missed the Saturday market, which I am slightly disappointed about, but there is so much else to see we just headed out. I must admit, I am still not completely sold on the location…. It’s a little….different here. Not unsafe I don’t think, but….I wouldn’t want to walk by myself late at night. I might change my mind as the days pass, we will see.
Our first stop was to try to find food since neither of us had really eaten since the morning before and we were getting hangry. We started out in the way we thought the map sent us, but didn’t lead to the places Carl had mentioned the night before. So we went back to get the map he had given us and for Meaghen to change into something the wind wouldn’t blow about….she likes Perpignan, pretty sure Perpignan likes her voluptuous figure and tiny waist….
So we started again with the map, however again we went in the damn wrong direction. I already knew we probably weren’t in the best part of town, but yikes, really didn’t feel all that safe down in the quarter we walked into. A little bit scary. A lot scary. So we hightailed it backwards and texted Carl and asked him if he could come out of the house and show us where to go – which he did ever so nicely. Truly, a great host. He kindly, without laughing, told me I was looking at the map backwards and we were headed in completely the wrong direction. And to head in a straight line down our street in the completely opposite direction – just a straight line. Sigh.
So we headed out one more time, determined to find food, and wander a bit. He was right of course, 2 minutes in the other direction and suddenly the center of town swelled up. We hit up the first cafe we found. I again used my new favouritie phrase, which the owner did not speak English at all, but we decided to eat there anyways and just figured we would use google translate for the menu and point. So, no menus, just two things. Which he said verbally and we pretended to know what he was saying. Fish, or Duck. I am sure duck is tasty, but I have a hard time eating them. So, we ordered fish. Salad to start, which was easy enough. However I also asked for water, which I called agua and realized far too late that is water in Spanish. So he brought us wine. An entire bottle of it, glad I said the little one. And of course, we drank it. A nice delicious rose. Eventually we got water too. The people sitting behind us informed the waiter that the “fish” were actually prawns so we would know what we were eating. I agreed anyways cause i still don’t want to eat a little fluffy duck. Now, if you know me, you know I am picky. Usually the only seafood I eat is fish; sock-eye salmon, or basically any kind of white fish. Never food with shells. And if it’s meat, it is cooked so long that it soon becomes akin to leather. So much so I swear Meaghen throws a party when the chicken is not dry and the steak is actually chewable in a few bites. So we got our salad, which was alright. Just plain green lettuce with a drizzle of lemony dressing and a tomatoe cut into fours, with a toasted bread with cream cheese then brie cheese melted on top. I could handle that. And some wine. Yum. Then came the second course. Which when he put in front of me, Meaghen did everything she could not to start laughing at me . I am sure my face said it all. I am used to prawns being out of their shell, and just being little white and pink curly things in buttery sauce. Even those I don’t eat. Well, we got a plate with half a buttered potatoe (yum), artichokes (also yum) and 6 full prawns, with their tails and faces and whiskers and whatever else is on a prawn that just comes out of the damn water. I hesitated, but I didn’t want to be rude when the man was so nice. So, even Meaghen who eats the damn little shellfish off of the friggin rocks in the ocean raw, just right off a rock ( gross, I know ) wasn’t sure how to eat them. Well she pulled the tail off, then the head, which I copied, trying not to vomit, and scraped off whatever blackish little runny bit goes down the back ( I swear it looks like prawn poo) and ate the prawn. It wasn’t yummy. It wasn’t exactly gross either. And after a nice big glass of wine after each one, I downed 3. I figured that was pretty good actually. During our meal, the couple in the table behind us asked us if we were English, and if we were enjoying our meal. Which I couldn’t say no, I mean I didn’t want to be rude. But as we were talking they found out we were Canadian which they said was even better than English, and that they were Irish, but they spent 4 months camping in an orchard they own just outside of Perpignan, 4 months back in Ireland and then 4 months in India. Fascinating! She said they come to this part of town when here because it’s where the locals eat. Then she asked if we were sisters, which I laughed but the look on her face was serious. I took the complement, I mean truly, I know otherwise but it was nice to feel young. They wished us a “Bonne vacance” and went on their way. Then we got served ice cream to finish our meal….so yummy. Tasted like egg nog. I loved drinking our wine, sitting in the cafe people watching and wasting away our afternoon. It was exactly what I was looking for. We were there for quite a few hours.
We eventually moved on, continued downtown and looked at all the pretty things but held ourselves in check. I swear I am going to make Meaghen wear a burka in Spain. She was completely covered and the girl just gets ogled. On one hand, it’s like “yep, that my beautiful girl, I know, right? Wish she knew it.” and on the other hand it’s like, “that’s my fucking daughter you fucking pig stop looking at her or I’m going to punch you in the fucking face.” Tough choice sometimes.
No shopping today, well except for some remarkable pastries and baguettes from a little pastry shop and groceries. I couldn’t find milk. It was weird. It was just…dry milk or some other stuff but I wanted good clean regular old cow milk. Just normal cow milk from a normal cow. For my tea. Which I am now drinking milk-less. Sigh.
After wandering around we decided to head back as most things were closing for the afternoon siesta. I love that they do this. So we decided to go have a nap too: when in France, do as the French?? Sitting here though we got lazy and decided to finish our evening by doing much needed laundry, and just watching Joe Santagato videos. Damn he is funny. We didn’t get a true sense of the city yet, we mostly just wandered a few streets in our area, but tomorrow we shall explore!