Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 31

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Wednesday May 21, 2008 (diary, travel)

I CAN sleep in the Honda Jazz Having made my decision to go South into France and Spain I check out the various Hotel options in the Lonely Planet Guide as well as online. I find the standard of the French Hotels on the whole much lower and their prices much higher than in Germany, with additional extras like breakfast and parking making them quite expensive. I can afford it but I hate paying good money for bad value, so my mind turns to camping instead.

To my surprise I can stretch out quite comfortably in the small Honda Jazz when lying on one of Wivica's foam mattresses. So I don't need a tent. Just as well as my left arm, although improving, is still not back to normal and needs more rest. Later in Freiburg I buy various other necessities, like a sleeping bag, esky, some tarpaulins to shelter from rain and wind, etc.

Camino de Santiago There are some fantastic bookshops in Freiburg, one, Herder Bücher, has four floors with an incredible collection of books, including a large section with books in various foreign languages (including of course English). Another one, just around the corner specialises in maps and travel guides.

To my delight I find here detailed maps of Northern Spain showing all the areas where I did my geological mapping some 50 years ago. Also clearly marked the famous Camino de Santiago (in German "Jacobsweg"), the pilgrims route to Santiago de Compostella. I notice that I did cover much of this road by motor bike when traveling to my research are in Galicia. Perhaps next year I will go there again and travel just a small part of that route.

Tomorrow I will load up the car to leave on Friday morning, so that I am out off the way this weekend. The weather is still overcast, but it is gradually getting a bit warmer. Wivica is picking up Sabrina Fox from Basel airport on Friday to discuss the illustrations Sabrina has asked her to make for her new book. For Saturday and Sunday Sabrina has invited Wivica to a large esoteric congress in Freiburg where Sabrina will also give a lecture.

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Thursday May 22, 2008 (diary, travel)

Else's Tapestry It is still overcast and rather cool today. I am busy packing my car. Everything fits nicely and I think the sleep-in-the-car exercise will work fine. Later I take some photos of rather small Polaroid prints from some of my mother's patchwork banners and tapestries. They are absolutely delightful. I believe we have some more in Australia of hers. I consider it important to have her creative products recorded so that all the family remembers who she was.

In the afternoon some clients of Wivica arrive, so after briefly saying "Hello" I make myself scarce and drive into St. Peter. First a Tea with Rum in the small Zähringer Eck Cafe I am frequenting these days, then on to the BertoldsBrunnen Pizzeria where I have my usual half dozen of escargots and their spaghetti al tonno. After paying the bill they always offer each diner a complimentary grappa or amaretto. I never had an amaretto before so I try one, quite nice, an almond liqueur.

In the evening Wivica goes with her 4 visitors to the Burgerstüble for dinner. They all order Pangasius, never heard of it before but all love it. One of them is a TV presenter for the local station and promises to film a couple of Wivica's paintings when she covers the esoteric conference on Saturday.

Some good news today, including : Bev from the mango farm in Darwin is out of the hospital and (according to the reports) is looking fitter than ever again. Also my Primary school friend Dick Matthes is home when I am in Holland and I will stay with him and his wife Lyde in Gorssel for a few days at the end June.

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Friday May 23, 2008 (diary, travel)

The sun shines and we have a blue sky this morning. I am ready and on the road by 9.30 am. Only about 310 km to Beaune. Once in France I loved the countryside. The landscape gradually changes from gently sloping hills to undulating fields once I approach the river Soane. Here and there a river or canal, all very peaceful.
There are two marked differences here in contrast to Germany. Firstly there are lots of wooded areas, all of them with leafy trees, no pines to be seen anywhere. Secondly whereas in Germany wind farms are almost always somewhere on the horizon, in France all the 300 km to Beaune I don't see a single one. The French were about the first to get into nuclear power I believe and I suspect they are quite comfortable with that and much prefer it to mucking up the countryside with these horrible, horrible things.
200 km French freeway costs me about € 16 on toll charges, about the same as the fuel cost me over that distance. However the freeway is very good with plenty of nice rest areas, beautiful scenery and no staus.

I arrive in Beaune at midday, the caravan park is quite nice with lots of shady trees and hedges separating all individual sites (cost only € 8.50). There are lots of motor homes, they are quite the thing here in Europe in preference to caravans.
Beaune is a nice city with an Medieval wall surrounding the entire old center. Lots of Restaurants and Wine cellars, but the wine is not cheap. You pay anything from $5 to $15 for a single glass of wine which can be as little as 0.1 liter. For dinner I have my escargots, then Beef Bourguignon and cheese at the Caravan Park Bistro. The snails are wonderful, the rest is so so.
OK I am going to try out my bed now, reed and to sleep. Tomorrow to Orange.

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Saturday May 24, 2008 (diary, travel)

Square in front of the Festival Cafe Overcast this morning. I wake up at 6 am, marveling at the good night's sleep I had in the car. Nobody is about yet, a great difference with caravan parks in Australia where most people are up and about by 6. I wash, have my breakfast and am on my way by 7.30 am. Undulating county continues until Lyon, where I hit the Rhone and much more hilly country. About midday I arrive in Orange. I find the caravan park. The Mistral is blowing like shit and I have some argument with the hedge protecting me from the reception as to which site. Eventually I get one with a hedge protecting me from the wind.
The town of Orange though is an absolute delight. I feel instantly at home here, it is by far the nicest place I have visited for a long time, little squares with terraces and restaurants all over the place. There are tourists here but they just seem to blend in with the locals.
Pantomime Francais : I can't understand most of what is being said, but just watching these French is a sheer pleasure. The women all (without exception) look interesting, many with great legs or wiggly bottoms (sometimes both !!) no man in the world can take his eyes off. The French men are therefore champion chatters uppers. I love seeing this all going on.

No cars allowed in the Center and Cafes, and Restaurants with terraces abound. I find a shop selling thongs, an absolute necessity when showering in caravan parks, then I set myself down at the Festival Cafe for lunch. Moules Frites, is not fried muscles, but simply steamed as usual. Hover they are great and together with a couple of quarter liters of house red are just the ticket.
I also discover Bar La Palace mentioned in the Lonely Planet Guide. They don't serve meals today, just the bar is open. The decor is quite artistic and I take a few photos and drink a Pernod.
Back at the Caravan park I discover that € 20 per night does not include toilet paper ! You absolutely would not believe this !!!
So far today. I will go back into town tonight for another meal and tomorrow set of for Spain, but most probably come back here on my return journey.

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Sunday May 25, 2008 (diary, travel)

Last night I went back to the Festival Cafe and had a "Plat du Jour", Entrecote au poivre, quite good, with some cheese and one of those tiny, delicious espresso cafes.
I am woken up in the morning by some showers while snuggly in my bed in the car. But the wind has topped and by 8 am I am on the road. As soon as I cross the Rhone the countryside changes dramatically. Irregular buff chalky hills and low compact bushes cover the ground, some blooming brightly yellow while the leafy trees from yesterday have virtually disappeared. Also an increase in conifers, especially those tall thin pencil trees, famous from the van Gogh paintings, which form part of the landscape all the way into Spain. Most of the way it is heavy heavy rain, but I am kept warm by a wonderful feeling that I am not alone, but that other thoughts are traveling with me. The landscape changes frequently, sometimes flat sometimes hilly, but the pencil trees are always there.

Cadaqués, Costa Brava, Spain The Spanish border is right at the start of the magnificent Pyrenees. I drive on to Fegueres then left to Roses where the Pyrenees mountains dip steeply into the Mediterranean. Here the houses cling precariously to the mountain side right up to the top. The caravan park in Roses is not much so I find my way on to Cadaqués, via a 14 km narrow road through the mountains, which is a magnificent National park. Cadaqués is a delightful fishing village and the original home of Salvador Dahli. After a while I find my way twisting and turning to a rather wet caravan park and book for two nights. I will stay longer if the weather improves. The narrow boulevard of Cadaqués is right along the waterfront, with the waves at places splashing right across the road. Tiny beaches are crowded by small fishing vessels at several places. Restaurants abound along the waterfront as well as inland. Tomorrow I will explore all this. Today I just dry out and get settled.

In the evening I change my mind and start walking down hill through one of the town's narrow streets, but after only a few hundred yards I see a typical Spanish pub, no respectable tourist is sure to get near. So I go in and enjoy a couple of unadulterated tintos (glass of red wine of the house, at € 1.50 nowhere near the 1 peseta 50 years ago, but still quite cheap these days) and swap remarks with some locals about the film we are watching on TV.
There is also a fancy little restaurant I noticed on my way down with marinated sardines on their Specials board outside. I walk back up and go in. The place is run by a Swiss couple. The sardines are great, the entrecote as medium rare as you can have it and the Gruyere with thinly sliced passion fruit (?) a combination which reveals a chef who know his business.
Throughout the night the background music features a clarinetist from the Swing era. I know him well but just can't think of his name. Buddy de Franco, they tell me. He is the one reed player, dead or alive, who has managed to remove the sharp edge of the typical clarinet sound. His sound is therefore so sweet, so romantic, so melancholic you never forget it, and every song he plays becomes sheer musical magic. (Well that is how an incurable romantic like me feels about it.)

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