NEW WEB PAGE 

Several of you have expressed interest in seeing what our different flats look like.  So, with that in mind, I’ve added a new page to our website: Lodging.  Simply go to www.boomerreloading.com and click on the Lodging tab on the top navigational bar.

Only Airbnb and HomeAway listings are shown.  Hotels and staterooms are pretty much the same and uninteresting.  The listing for York is no longer available because the owner is allowing his granddaughter to live there. The one for Trier has changed and is undiscoverable.

These listings are how we determine which flat might work for us in various cities.  Here is how Marsha usually explores listings:

  1. Enter our basic filters: city, dates, 2 people, entire house, price range (prices are often discounted for week or longer stays); Additional filters: > 1 bed, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, kitchen, internet, and washer. A Superhost, although not always available, has always been a good identifier.
  2. Then we look at pictures, scrutinize the descriptions (sometimes this needs translating), and read the reviews for more clues. Deal breakers: general bad reviews, host cancelled reservations, uncomfortable bed, no elevator for higher floors, noisy area, and the sense the owner is just trying to turn a dollar vs being a host. We never consider anything lower than 4-1/2 stars.
  3. If we have any questions, Marsha shoots the owner an email for clarification.
  4. Then it is a zen-sort-of-thing. There have been a few we decided against, just because they didn’t feel right.
  5. Submit our request. Some are instant book, which is nice.
  6. Once secured, I find transportation to the next city: train, bus, plane, boat, donkey, etc.

There you have it.  Go to the new Lodging page on our site, find a city, click on the hyperlink, and check out our European flats.  Have fun.  If you have any questions, just ask.

 

 

Starting with this post I will include the bed icon at the bottom to link you to that week’s lodging(s).

 

 

 

CARCASSONNE

Our 2-hour train trip from Nimes was uneventful.  We continue to appreciate the French rail experience.  When we stepped out of the train station we were accosted with a blustery wind in the low 40s.  I guess winter is approaching.  We already sigh wistfully, thinking about the Italian and French Riviera from just a few weeks ago.  After celebrating the new year in Paris, we will scurry south to Spain and Portugal to chase the sun some more.

Our week in Carcassonne has been filled with great daily walks, new discoveries, and relaxing down times.  As I’ve written before, we are not on vacation; we are creatively living life.  We don’t feel the need to fill every minute with touristy endeavors.  We have to live somewhere, so here works out just fine.

The big (and maybe only) attraction here is La Cite, the medieval walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  As with many ancient sights, this city is up on a hill, which helps with defense when those pesky, roaming marauders come through … and they always come through.  The high elevation, being on a main east-west and south-north trade route, combined with a good water supply, made this location perfect for starting a new city.  And so, it happened.

When the Romans got here, around 3 BC, they started adding to the existing structure they found by building the initial interior city wall, bringing wealth to the area, then building other cool stuff.  (An often-used and accepted archeological phrase.)  Around 300 AD, the gang from Rome stated losing their game, so the French took over, building up the Roman wall and adding an outer wall around 1300, then populating the walled city to the tune of 5,000 inhabitants.

Today, La Cite is Europe’s best preserved and largest fortified city. The 1.6 miles of walls support 52 towers and about 53 residents.  Marsha and I watched a YouTube video from someone’s summer vacation here and are very happy to bundle up against the chill in the off season in order to be able to walk through the city without the pushy crowds.  BTW, there are no guard rails on the walls…another example of the European Natural Selection process.

The images below are of the city, its castle, and what was the cathedral, until the bishop moved downtown with the other rich people, thereby reducing its status to a basilica.

  

  

 

The modest building below is found at the start of Pont Vieux (Old Bridge) that carries you up to La Cite.  The small, unimpressive Chappelle Notre Dame de la Sante is the starting point for pilgrims who walk the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile spiritual journey to Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain.

  

 

Our daily walks around Carcassonne connected us to life here in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.  By living in a city for a week, you start to get a feel for the people, the day-to-day activities, and the special events.  Just a few blocks from our flat, the 2nd annual edition of the Mammouth Market took place in a covered convention space.  This was a fun, high-end Crafts fair.  We took a stroll through all the exhibits before heading out to take in the exciting atmosphere of a night-time carnival.  It was just as you would expect: noisy, colorful lights, cheesy games, and just plain fun, with little kids running about excitedly speaking French.  How do they speak French so well when they are so young?  The featured image of this post was taken last night.  I don’t think copyright licensing is much of an issue at these traveling fun parks.

Of course, we drifted into a few churches in town during our daily urban hikes.  These range from very unassuming to spectacular.  The images below are from a church whose exterior gave no indication of what waited inside.

  

 

One of the activities we always try to get involved with in every city is the Outdoor Market Day.  This is probably the best way to get a feel for a community.  We love just wandering around, absorbing the atmosphere.  This is one of the few times I don’t even mind being constantly bumped into … it’s all part of the fun.  Marsha usually buys some produce, meat, or bread for one of our meals back in the flat.  We are not against purchasing a goodie or two when we are so wonderfully tempted by a local or regional treat.  Although our French is not as good as those little kids running around, we are still able to exchange some euros for the desired goods.  The two images below will give you a static sense of the open market just a block from our flat.  Click on the basket of baguettes to see and hear a one minute stroll through this most enjoyable activity.

  

 

Click
Video

 

 

This coming week we are cheating and heading back south to the French Riviera at Collioure.  We made this decision after arriving in Carcassonne.  So, there will be some dreaded back-tracking, but we will deal with it … on the French Riviera.

 

Just a reminder:  This bed icon will appear down here from now on.  If you want to see how we lived this week, click on the bed and be linked to the host’s rental listing.

 

 

Carcassonne

 

 

 

Invite your friends and family to join the fun by subscribing to the Stowaway Newsletter on our site.  Just click the open Steamer Trunk on the Homepage.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Preston & Marsha

Don’t Retire: Reload – Groovin’ on the Flip Side