17 December 2009
Alans Column in the Leinster Leader cont.
Schnitzel’s European Adventures.
‘To The Great Walled City Part 2’
Continuing from the first article in this column last week we had just left Nantes and our next stop was Carcassone, our goal.
The Transit was powering along nicely, sucking modestly on diesel, making admirable mileage on the open French road. We were closing in on our target, only a few more hours driving and trusty sat nav would do most of the work. As I said in last weeks article France closes early and even as early as 8pm driving through towns (to avoid tolls) we saw nobody. Towns here were desolate, not quite like desolate towns in Ireland however that are basically holes, desolate towns in France look cute and vintage like an old couple kissing in a park on a summers day. However quiet the towns were, the countryside was truly alluring, vineyards, old terrecota buildings, fruits I’ve never even heard of. It was all very enchanting, picturesque if you will allow an artist an obvious description. Soon after driving by endless streams of Renaults, Citreons and Peugeots and we were nearing our destination, sat nav took us down an unexpected turn. Away from lights and away from a road that would welcome oncoming traffic. Our Transit took up the full road and desolate towns began to look less cute and vintage and more abandoned after World War 2 massacres. Of course, they weren’t, they were charming placid towns, French people don’t use curtains, they have shutters outside their windows which make everything look boarded up as opposed to occupied and sleepy. Trees took a dull blue hue in the full beam of our headlights highlighting the perfect blackness that lurked behind. At the same time that Mr. Sat Nav brought us down this scary middle of nowhere road, Mr. Ipod was blasting out Thom Yorkes The Eraser, not the least creepy album ever made. Eventually we were told to ‘turn right’ and ‘in 200 metres we have reached our destination’. It seemed - admitedly- a bit small to be a ‘great’ walled city, but we crept upon it slowly regardless. When we got into Carcassone, our first illustrious target, we found a washing line tied up between two trees drying only white sheets in the darkness. This was the wrong Carcassone, it was a two house village. We had driven six hours to the wrong place. The worlds quickest three point turn took us out of the creepy little place and in the direction of Bordeaux. The principal problem with advancements in technology may well be our trust in them. If a machine says something we immediately assume it to be fact. If a microwave jumped off a bridge, I think I might just do it too. But only if it was a particularly sophisticated microwave.
Our Carcassone is on the other side of France, we will get there eventually and then this column may have something about ‘The Great Walled City’.
(Column continues next week. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for comments or suggestions.)