A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: alexchan

Homeward bound


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Today I flew from Toulouse [Toulouse-travel-guide-467792] to London Gatwick, then bused to London Heathrow to connect to on the Air New Zealand flight to Auckland (arriving two days later) via Los Angeles. Big and long day it was!

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in France Comments (0)

Another fortified city


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Carcasonne is another fortified city within day-tripping distance of Toulouse [Toulouse-travel-guide-467792]. Again rather over-touristed and rather commercialised but I wouldn't have missed it because of this.

The fortification consists of a double ring of ramparts and 53 towers. Like Mont St Michel, various parts of the city are of different ages. To make it worse, much of the place was restored in the late 1800s with stylistic and architectural errors.

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in France Comments (0)

Home of the Big Bus


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large_5550_11888122266624.jpgThe Capitol (or town hall).
Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France ... also called the pink city because many old buildings are finished in red brick without plaster. It is very much a centre of education with one of the oldest universitires in Europe.

It is also home to the the European aerospace industry ... the Caravelle, the Concorde and now the Airbus A380 (largest passenger aircraft in production). In true continental fashion, the factory is only operational Monday to Friday! Each shift lasts 9 hours (including a one hour lunch I presume, not sure with or without wine).

The A380 factory tour was a small and friendly operation ... the guide does a considerable amount of talking, supplemented with some video presentations. Quite unlike many all-singing and all-dancing fully automated presentations one expects nowadays in a Disneyesque fashion. Despite this, the whole tour operation (subcontracted) had a mickey-mouse feel to the way it was run.

The 1.5 hour tour was interesting ... apart from the aircraft being built and tested, we saw a fully painted A380 being towed out, a takeoff and a landing ... something not many visitors get to see, we were told.

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in France Comments (0)

Breakfast in Condom


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large_5550_11888120933753.jpgCondom cathedral.
I never thought I'd see Catholicism and contraception come together! But the pretty little town of Condom [Condom-travel-guide-432505] has the Cathedral as its centre. By the way, the French call the rubber thingey preservatif instead of condom.

We had breakfast in Condom ... coffee (in a cup) and croissant (on a plate) before a little walkie around town.

Just on the subject of condoms, in France they're sold through dispensers in very public areas ... so everyone can see you buy them and make your choice of colours and texture too! I guess the Europeans are for more open minded that English-speakers, eg.

* In Amsterdam you get open urinals on the city streets!
* And in France, urinals are often located by handbasins in the common areas shared by the ladies' and the gents'.

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in France Comments (0)

Hot Marmande


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The mercury (or rather the readout in the car) hit 37 degrees Celsius as we drove through Burgundy [Burgundy-travel-guide-1362868]. People were playing in the fountains to cool off.

We proceeded to Marmande [Marmande-travel-guide-451838] for a nightstop. This quiet little town had no place open for dinner ... not that we could find anyway.

That left only one place ... McDonalds, and we thought it would be a welcome option as it would be the only air-conditioned public place in town. As it turned out it was fairly warm still.

The hotel wasn't air-conditioned. It was 'ot ... very very 'ot.

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in France Comments (0)

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