It is nearly 2 months since my last post and the question is – have I like my American friends been stuck in Venice? Many of my travelling companions from the USA were let down by their airline and had to stay a couple of extra nights in Italy, while Julie and I hopped on an express train to Milan and then took advantage of a European Travel pass to catch local trains to the Italian Border and thence via Marseille to Montpellier with our eventual destination being Paris.
This planning does not explain the absence of posts of course. Two months ago I volunteered to produce a fund-raising calendar as part of benefit night for an ex student, friend and gym instructor who went from being a new mother to a widow in a period of two weeks. Three hundred people are gathering for this benefit on the 8th of November and we are looking forward to a lot of fun but it’s been a lot of hard work.
The most fun was photographing 12 different trainers in class and trying to capture their different, quirky characters. These photographs do not belong here but you will find them at this address on my stay at home, photo/writing blog – http://gymeagary.tumblr.com. Take a look and leave a comment if you like.
This break has put a dent in my intention to wrap up my travelling blog by Christmas, but it has definitely moved me from Italy into France at last.
We have no regrets at choosing to use trains and forgo the convenience of a guided bus tour as we had with Trafalgar in Italy but it had some disadvantages. The trains were comfortable and reliable but using the local lines meant waiting sometimes for hours for a connection. Travelling slower than a “Bullet” meant we got to see a lot more of the countryside but it is very frustration for a photographer to pass by so many images while looking through a dirty window from a swaying train! We had hoped to reach Montpellier in one hop from Milan but stops to change trains in Genoa and Ventimiglia (the border town between Italy and France) meant we had been travelling 12 hours when we got to Marseille so we broke our trip and found a hotel. Compared with our Italian accommodation this was definitely One Star. We also didn’t have a bus and the wonderful Barbara looking after us so had to find a cab and somewhere to eat ourselves – all part of the adventure but not much fun when you are exhausted.
The next morning we rolled our bags over cobbled streets back to the station, caught the next train to Montpellier, with only a single change at Nimes and were there by lunchtime. Since we had no accommodation booked we found a tourist office, booked two nights by the beach at Pavalas les Flots and took instructions on how to take the Light Rail and then the local bus to get there. We found the locals extremely helpful. The Image above is from the fishing village a half hour walk from where we were staying.