A day exploring the city of Toulouse: the Capitolium, the Basilica of Saint Sernin and the Gothic Cathedral of Saint Etienne, Victor Hugo market and the flea market. A Korean lunch with our new friend Jiheun to explain what to order and how to eat it, and some shopping for essential items such as the guidebook to Part Two of the Via Tolosana: Toulouse - Puente la Reina!
Friday, May 4, 2018
Set off from the pilgrim gîte in Ayguesvives under a light but steady rainfall, striding boldly forth - in the wrong direction! A quick check against the gps track and we corrected our mistake: we had to retrace our steps from the evening before in order to get back to the canal. We followed the canal for another twenty kilometres, making better time than usual as we were walking in company with Stephane and Alain, the two pilgrims we met on the previous day, and chatting to pass the time and break up the monotony of the canal. Also, the grass was too wet to sit down to rest and watch life go by in our usual leisurely way.
We did stop for a break in a canal-side café before leaving the Canal du Midi at Ramonville and taking the metro into the centre of Toulouse. I normally walk all the way, even through cities, but I have decided to allow an exception for the first and last city in each of the sections in which I am breaking up the Camino, i.e. I don't have to resume walking in the exact spot where I left off but can start on the other side of the city (as I did in Montpellier). In any case our hospitalier last night had recommended this route, and I wasn't sure whether that was because walking through the outskirts of the city would be merely unpleasant, or downright unsafe. Our fellow pilgrims were taking the metro, so we did the same.
When we emerged from the metro in the city centre we initially felt giddy upon finding ourselves surrounded by so many people - and so much food, after all those tiny villages with their (permanently or temporarily) closed shops and cafés!
While wandering about the city still in our pilgrim garb, complete with backpacks and sticks, we found ourselves at a wine-tasting event put on by the local tourist office, where we were treated like minor celebrities, offered samples of both wine and beer and interviewed by the event organisers! Unfortunately our French is not worthy of amplification, so we let Stephane do the talking!
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Meet the Canal du Midi, the protagonist of our story for the next two days. We opened the shutters this morning and there it was, shining in the sun!