Marseille, Provence – France

I can only imagine how beautiful Marseille was back in the fishermen’s days, little boats coming in and out of the harbour… well, there are still a few hanging around the place, but not for long. Just like many places, the charm of Marseille is being outsourced and the place is losing the very trade that built it: Fishing. It’s still a very elegant city, with many things to see, but I wish I had seen it back one hundred years ago!

Lourdes – France

Well, I think I posted a lot of buddhist temples and places, how about something different now?

A few years ago (about 11 actually), I went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, just to help people get from the hospital to the church and back. I am not a religious guy, you are catholic, he is muslim, she is hindu… brilliant! Let’s go to the pub and talk about travelling and eat some food, but the school offered to pay for the entire trip… free “holidays” don’t come often, so I took it! It was a brilliant experience, met some wonderful people who had a lot more life experience than me and shared a few laughs.

During the trip, I saw this old gentleman sitting on his own at the hotel lobby everyday. It doesn’t take me too long to go and talk to random people, so I went and talked to him. It turns out he was a sicilian WWII veteran, who was stationed in Germany for most of the war. He could not speak a word of english and the extent of my italian was to wave my arms around while I talked (Sorry for the stereotype!), but we managed to understand each other. Portuguese is not too far from Italian! We talked for hours and hours, almost everyday. It felt like he just wanted someone to listen to him! Nothing more. He didn’t care if I only absorbed 10% of what he was saying, but the 10% was incredible! He felt sorry for being on the “wrong” side of the war, but either he fought or went to jail. Well, most times we can’t control the stupidity of our leaders! When it came to the end of the pilgrimage, he gave me his address in Sicily and we wrote each other a few times over a few years, until his daughter wrote me saying that he had passed away. It was a sad day for me. I was only 16 years old at the time and only saw the guy over three days, but I felt he was a really good friend!

Not the best quality photo… sorry! It was durin the “pre-digital era” and this is the best attempt the developing place had to offer of a digital CD image.

Albi – France

Maybe a depressing picture to talk about a brilliant day! On my last birthday, I took a little trip to Toulouse. My hosts decided to give me a “birth-day-trip”, first to Albi, then wine tasting in Galliac. It was a brilliant day! Sooooo hot, with temperatures reaching 41°C, but nothing that a beer across Albi Cathedral can’t solve! This cathedral is just incredible, it is, supposedly, the largest brick building in the world. The details inside are beautiful. The church used to be called “Cathedral of Saint Cecilia of Albi”, and the picture below is the rather realistic sculpture of Saint Cecilia, just after her death. It is an amazing place! It is also the birth place of Toulouse-Lautrec… just thought you’d like to know!