Wednesday and Thursday, June 6 and 7, 2018
Our trip is starting! We leave the house at 2pm for the airport and arrive at the airport at 3:30pm.
We go through the automated process of getting our boarding passes and luggage tags for the flight Toronto - Montreal and then Montreal – Toulouse. After that we drop off our suitcases at an “automated” station where we put the suitcases on a belt and scan our boarding pass. The machine matches the luggage tag and the boarding pass together and the suitcase is gone!
The only time we stand in line is at the security check. That all done after about half an hour, we go and have something to drink. Our flight to Montreal is full and we leave on time at 6pm. We get some turbulence on the way and so no drinks can be served. Arrival at Montreal is at 7:15pm and we are pretty hungry by that time. We buy an incredibly expensive croissant with egg, cheese and somewhere in there a piece of bacon and share it.
Boarding the plane is rather easy for us as we have chosen Option Plus with more leg room. Nice seats with lots of leg room – certainly worth the extra money! We stand at the gate for quite a while because one passenger has gotten sick, is not coming on the flight any longer and her suitcase has to be unloaded. The flight is supposed to leave at 20:40 and we leave at 21:25pm. We are served a meal at midnight which tastes good!
Eke manages to get some sleep. Brian is not so fortunate!
In spite of leaving Montreal late, we arrive in Toulouse at the original arrival time – 10:25 am. Passport control is easy and fast. We have to wait quite a while for our luggage. We retrieve our 2 bags and follow the “transport” signs to a taxi station outside. The fresh air feels good. The weather is overcast but a nice temperature. It costs us 30 euros to bring us to our hotel “Hotel des Beaux Arts”. The hotel is in the old part of the city on the river “La Garonne”. It is at the corner of Rue de Metz and Quai La Daurade with the bridge “Le Pont Neuf” right outside our window.
Our room is ready! Hip Hip Hoorah! It is a small room with a double bed on the 3rd floor – fortunately there is an elevator. The hotel is a very old building; the lobby is small and decorated with modern art and some comfortable furniture. It certainly is different from the regular hotel lobbies and we like the atmosphere. It is right in the middle of the entertainment action as we find out in the evening!
After resting for about an hour and letting people at home know we have arrived safely, we head out and walk through the mostly narrow streets of this old part of Toulouse with many shops, restaurants, bars and tea rooms. We walk by some very interesting old buildings with old heavy wooden doors and some courtyards. These areas are now used a lot as patios for restaurants – the same as the squares that are surrounded by old buildings.
We find our way down to the river where the stone wall, that protects the city from the river water during a storm and high water levels, is set back more. A small park on the Daurade quai invites people to enjoy the river’s edge. We join them and sit in the shade looking at the old hospital St. Jacques and Hotel Dieu across the river. We read about the long history of the river and the sandboats that in earlier times transported the fine sand over the river. In the 1970’s the people of Toulouse pretested the local government which had plans to modernize this area and the people won! They are enjoying “their” river’s edge – especially in the evening when we found quite a crowd of people enjoying the nice weather!
Brian has read about a tea room called Bapz and we find it in one of the side streets. The patio doors are open to the street because the weather is a pleasant 22 degrees celsius and getting more sunny as the afternoon goes on. There is a nice relaxing atmosphere in the place. The furniture is eclectic and every table has different chairs. Brian is in his element with renewing his knowledge of the French language while Eke is stumbling with missing most of the “fast” conversations.
Brian orders their famous hot chocolate which tastes intensely chocolatey, is creamy and has almost the consistency of chocolate pudding! He needs a spoon to scrape the “dregs” off the side of the mug. Eke orders the “Bali” green tea: green tea with different flowers in it. Then we share a scone loaded with nutella and Chantilly whipping cream! Healthy eating is out of the window today!
After indulging ourselves Brian is ready to return to the room and rest some more. Eke is in the mood for looking around some more and continues to explore. She finds a t-shirt she likes and makes her first purchase. These shops are all in old buildings which makes for an interesting atmosphere. To her surprise she also finds a HEMA. For those of you who are Dutch you know exactly what I am talking about. She can’t resist snooping around and ends up buying a bag of “Engelse drop” – neat to read the Dutch labels in Toulouse! Later on we also find a C&A! For those of you who don’t have a clue what the HEMA is, it is a kind of Walmart store although a bit more upscale. C&A is a clothing store, more like Winners.
Eke crossed the Pont Neuf bridge and wandered a little through the streets where she found quite a few shops and restaurants catering to different cultures – especially African. She enjoyed a cup of tea on a patio along the river and returned to the room at about 5pm. Brian was awake and after a short break we decided to explore a bit more. We chose a different direction and discovered the Eglise Notre Dame de la Dalbade, a very old big church. The original church was built in the year 540! A great fire in the area seriously damaged the church in 1442 and the reconstruction took 14 years. The area around the church changed after the fire and became more gentrified.
We were not desperately hungry and ended up sharing a sandwich with Brie cheese and a bottle of water enjoying it sitting at the river’s edge. After wondering through all kinds of narrow streets we also came to a very large square with the Capitole building. The square is used as a market in the daytime and several stalls were being broken down. Lots of patios filled with people eating and drinking surrounding the square. We made our way back to our room, did some electronic communication with people back home and got ready to call it a – long – day!
Outside our window (which is open for some fresh air) lots of people are enjoying their evening out on the patios around the hotel. The “party” is finally dying down at 2:45 am which is the time that this is written! I think I am ready to try and get some more sleep!