Day 1-2: Getting here and Collioure

Trip Start Jul 23, 2012
Trip End Aug 15, 2012

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What I did
Market, beaches, and centre ville

Flag of France  , Languedoc-Roussillon,
Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I won't bore you with the details of our flight to Paris, save for that the whole sleeping on the plane for at least 8 hours never works.  Even with 2 large glasses of red wine.  And pasta and bread.  And melatonin.  And The Very Best Exotic Marigold Hotel showing.  But, with 2-3 hours of 'sleep' on our 10 hour flight, we arrived at Charles de Galle airport in Paris ready to eat some pastries and get to our first destination!  We connected from CDG to Toulouse, rented our Fiat Panda (it's adorable), and hit the road to Collioure, a lovely beach town on the France/Spain border.  This region is very proud of their Cataluyna heritage, so the Catalan flag flies all over, and there are
We arrived to a packed little city, jammed full of tourists on beach vacation.  The motto of Collioure should be: Where Germany, Switzerland, and Norway Come to Get Away.  After driving around for a while to find parking and checking in to our sweet little hotel, we headed about 2 minutes into the center of town to find dinner.  Not having showered or changed clothes since our long day of travel, let me be the first to apologize to the French people.  Sorry.  We stunk and we looked disheveled.  But we just told people we were from Portland, and they seemed okay with it. 
We settled on a delicious little tapas restaurant, where we gorged on housemade charcuterie (chorizo, boudin noir/blanc, and other meaty deliciousness), amazing paella with a ton of seafood, sausage and chicken, and for dessert, manchego with fig chutney.  Plus, they serve a side of bread toasted with a spread of tomatoes and olive oil that is amazeballs.  After dinner, we rolled our stuffed selves back to the hotel and passed out for eight straight, blissful hours. 
Waking up at 7am this morning, we were totally refreshed, and ready for a day of relaxation at the beach.  Well, at least I was. Mark has a hard time sitting/laying on a beach in the hot sun all day, but I see nothing wrong with it.  We walked through a couple of little markets that were set up near the hotel, sampled some local sausage and cheeses, bought some croissants and pain au chocolat for breakfast, and searched out a place that makes coffee bigger than a shot glass.  After breakfast, we wandered down to a lovely pebble beach near an ancient bell tower and set up shop for the rest of the afternoon.  Sunning on the Mediterranean does not suck.  And, we saw 15 boobs!  The water was clear and cold, and the crowds were totally manageable.  We lunched on salads and fancy macaroons from the grocery store, and just lazed on the beach. 
After 4 1/2 hours, we were sweaty and satisfied.  Quick shower and change of clothes, and then we wandered the town some more.  It's truly lovely, but not a ton to do besides enjoy the sun and drink some wine, which we did!  The region makes a few mediocre wines with Grenache, Mouvedre, and a few good white wines and roses.  They make killer white sangria with the Muscat, so I plan to enjoy more of that tonight with dinner. 
Starting in Collioure has been a fabulous way to orient ourselves to being on a new time zone in a foreign country.  Tomorrow, we plan to do a little hike up to some old observatory (guess whose idea that was...), and then more beach!  The weather has been perfect-sunny, breezy, and about 80 degrees. 
Enjoy the beginning pictures!  I may add another batch tomorrow, with a short entry. 

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