Wednesday, February 24, 2010
She has a striking beauty, a metropolitan flair, an inner warmth and lots of moxie. She is the French city of Montpellier , and she is Caleigh’s friends older sister Sara.
We left Eymet at 9:30 on Monday and drove to Carcassonne, stopped and had a lunch Cindy prepared in the back of the car, then explored La Cite of Carcassonne, which we toured for an hour. Then back onto the road. I must say the girls were exemplary, for being sequestered in the small confines of a Citroen C4. Our stops were few, just Diesel, rest rooms and rations. We played a few games of “ I’m going on a trip, and taking…” (Actually a good memorization exercise) in which a player starts with an item starting with the letter A, and each player thereafter adds an item starting then with B, then C, and so on, until you list all the previous items and add your next item. Caleigh loves the game, then perverts it by playing the bad word version, no idea where she gets that from? We end the days drive by arriving in Montpellier, hoping to find a room at the inn. We first meet up with Caleigh’s friends brother, Neal; what a great guy, handsome, gregarious, witty, and nice is the impression I first get, god was I wrong. After having him call the tourist information bureau, and trying to arrange a room for us, we meet Caleigh’s friends older sister, and her date, She calls, her date Roman calls his friends, then Caleigh’s friend’s brother excuses himself, goes to his apartment and tidies up and changes his sheets and arranges for himself to stay at a friends house so these idiot tourists can stay at his house. Like I said the first impression of him was great guy, handsome, gregarious, witty, and nice, he’s also a saint, we’re unworthy. I honestly am having a hard time listing accolades, Just we are so thankful to him. “I rarely rely on the kindness of strangers” or whatever the quote was from Daisy in Streetcar named Desire. With a borrowed roof over our heads, Caleigh and her friend are dropped off at her sisters incredible apartment to shower. The apartment is located on what we would call the third floor, here it’s the second floor. The building is centrally located in the historic part of Montpellier, you go up three stories on this beautiful open spiral staircase that has these beautiful lionheaded steel railing supports, the curved stone staircase is otherworldly and takes you back to another period. The handlaid plaster crown molding and applied details in her home were just so detailed, you could imagine the amount of time it took the artisans to make. Sara and Roman then gave us a walking tour of Montpellier, this in spite of the fact they had procured tickets to THE wine expo, but nicely said they could go the following day. The city of Montpellier has two operating opera houses and a third theat has been phased out, a center promanade garden, a cinema which reminded me of Cinema Paradisco which is used for indie movies. The architecture was scaled nicely and intimate to the street. There are grand boulevards, modern trams that didn’t insult the historic context, and most importantly the city had a sense of energy. Montpellier doesn’t seem propped up or inflated, there is a pulse to it, young students abound, elder citizens, geeky homeless tourists. We then gathered up the girls and had a wonderfully relaxed dinner of Sushi, paired with a delightful local wine, nicely recommended by both Sara and Roman, both extremely knowledgeable of wine, I am learning to listen and take notes in my old age, even though I always offer my untutored opinion. We then made our way through the warmly lit city, and made our way home…to Neal’s home. Again Neal, Sara, and Roman thank you for a wonderful evening, and the ability to have my family under a roof for the evening.