Thursday, July 18th
Back down the hill, the signpost to La Quintade 7.5km, Cahors 13km.
Wondering if the early pilgrims from LePuy also had to contend with the major earthworks redirecting the GR65, and wondering how much of the GR65 itself is, in fact, the real one followed by the earliest. Petit dejeneur, baguette avec fromage et gulps of l'eau. I've just walked a kilometer up a major road, and it wasn't pleasant. It's 9.5 kms to Cahors, should be easy.
Passing the football field, as I knew I would be. Still expect them to oval shaped, not rectangular.
Easy? Bejaysus. I'm sweating so much I feel like a flood plain. Hills, valleys, walking on large, loose pebblestones, nothing flat at all.
Sitting in a bus-stop, Le Bus Du Lot, and there's a poster for a Blues Festival somewhere. One of the performers has the brilliant name of Popa Chubba.
I'll bet he's a big, black bluesman with a steel guitar who sounds like John Lee Hooker. Yeah, my baby gone..
Jaysus, I'm by the second radio tower, and this 9.5kms seems to be going on forever.
And, shite, the car pilgrims themselves have just rushed up from behind, outta nowhere.
But, there's Cahors, in all it's wondrous glory, it's big. But somewhere down there is a hotel with a bed, saying "yer mine". All I have to do is find it.
a little later
Finally hitting the town, trying to find Rue de Barry, unaware that I was already on it, as the street names change every block. Then up the steps, over the river, up the main street, feeling like a hot and sweaty mule, probably to the great amusement of those already gathering in the restaurants lining the street.
A tourist train, with a couple of people I recognize from the walk are on it, being carted around the city's sights in this dinky little toy train. They wave, sheepishly, as though, yes, this utterly confirms that they are dickheads.
Near the fountain, with the statute of Gambetta 'ne a Cahors la 12 Avril 1838'. Have no idea who Gambetta was. Was he one of the musketeers?
The chick at the Office d'Tourisme was great. Spoke basic English, thank God. Y-a-til un cheap une-star hotel, and she shows me a map where the cheap une-star hotels are, here, here, and here. Y-a-til internet access, hotmail? Gives me another map, recommends one in particular as the best, and it look as though it only charges 1 euro per hour. Bonus. Y-a-til carte de ville en Anglais? Oui, gives me yet another map with a supplementary English translation. Guess I'll do the walking tour of the town demain.
Found a room, in kind of intriguing place. Booked it in a restaurant, had to wait a little as the room wasn't yet finished being made up. The guy working some magic with rooms and reservations. Anyway, got it, despite being told by the woman that there were no vacancies. Then being led through some streets to the actual hotel, mosaic floors, like it's been a castle in a previous incarnation. Room 7, 2nd etage. Dumped the stuff, freshened up, went down and paid. 26 euros per night.
Then a wander. Bookshops. Only one has anything in English, and they're mostly classics. Nothing is screaming "buy me", but, I need something.
Met Guy, the one from Conques, who was rubbing so much ice on his leg I thought he'd be giving himself hypothermia, but now he's leaping around, explaining that he'd just seen a doctor, who'd prodded and pulled, and suddenly Guy was pain free, "tres formidable", then he's on is way, with a bonne marcheuse.
To the Cafe le
Forum, where I am now, having a coffee, but really just killing time until
the Internet Cafe opens. It's one of the few cafes in Cahors that doesn't
have tables out the front full of diners enjoying the two-hour lunch break.
guy behind the bar
plays Solitaire on the 'Megatouch XL' machine when he's not serving.
Had a look around the eglise. Charlemagne himself had something to do with it. Statues of saints I've never heard of, and can't know anything about, as the plotted summaries of their lives are in French, obviously. One saint, being crucified, has a plaited waist-length pigtail. Kind of cool, I thought.
the bridge. Apparently it's the finest medieval bridge in existence.
And it's the one on the front of Raju's guidebook. I can't imagine any
circumstance where I'd go out of my way to see a bridge, but I'll make
an exception here.
Back at the hotel, and the reason I couldn't open the front door last time was because I was in the wrong street. Right number, 65, just the next street up. Found the Internet Cafe, 100 Ruse Jean Vidal, and a few new hotmails to reply to. Glad to get 'em though.
And getting what amounts to a freebie taste of the Cahors Blues Festival. A one man blues band, Phillipe Menard, now ripping into "Who Do You Love", English lyrics, and a good portion of the audience seem to know the words and bopping along. In the courtyard of the RE, whatever that is. He's got the amps, the foot-operated drums, the harmonica, the Bob Dylan circa-1963 cap, and the people in the office buildings above occasionally appear for a peek.
Been through the food hall. Fruit, vegies, more types of olives than I thought possible, cheeses, meats done in ways that make it look vaguely toxic.
Meanwhile, outside, a South American band is doing their best to compete. Not much chance there, but they've also got the CD's to flog, South American knick-knacks, it's quite a stall.
Back to the blues, he's now into a quieter tune, something about being lonely in his big brass bed now his woman's lovin' somebody else.
Then, he's joined by a harmonica player, the one who looks like a roadie who just happened to be passing by. A jam session, and bejaysus, for a roadie, he's a bloody good player. And said hello to Pierre-Claude's mother, and that's about it. Pierre-Claude's not around, he's probably off somewhere, having yet another illicit cigarette.
And while the rest of France gathers together in their family groups around the brasseries, restaurants, kitchen tables, and tuck into freshly prepared 3 course meals of gastronomic passion, followed by generous amounts of post-dinner conversation, I'll just sit here, on this bench, overlooking the Lot, drink this can of Heineken, prepare the tuna baguette, and just sit. Right now, I wish I wasn't alone.
Over on the other side of the Lot is where I arrived, where the GR65 enters Cahors. There's movies on tonight, but I won't go, as I wouldn't understand them. There's also the Blues Festival, but that's booked out, costs a fortune anyway.
Don't know the name of this bar, but it's just down the street from the Cafe le Forum, and it vaguely has the feel of the Desperadoes Favourite. The bar assistant has a large tattoo and dresses in black. And Tom Waits music is playing somewhere. I like it.