Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 247

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The Martinshof Story - A Philosophy of Happiness - Life Awareness - Maps, Text & Photo series

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Monday - Friday, May 21 - 25 2012 (diary)

On my way down the Glotter track, 2010

I am sleeping a lot at present while overcoming my Jet lag but of course went out with my sister Wivica to restaurants in St.Peter a couple of times already. The Italian one is especially good, where I enjoy my snails and great pizzas.

I also ventured out on my first walk, the 8km long track down to Glottertal, most of it downhill. Seeing that I have not walked at all for ages I went OK for the first 4km or so, but then my poor physical condition really started to show up.
A cramp in my lower left leg did not help, but I got along for another 2-3km when suddenly the track was closed an forbidden to follow due to tree felling on the slopes above. Thankfully I returned to the nearest bus stop and got back home. The next day of course my legs were sore, but at least it is the start of getting into shape for my Camino walk.

Georges Simenon As always I enjoy shopping in Freiburg. I can spend hours in bookshop Herder & Thalia and have already purchased 5 novels from them, all in German. After reading them I will donate the novels to the Palmerston Library, adding to their collection of books in German.

The Swiss publisher Diogenes has brought out a new series containing 76 Volumes (!!) of Maigret novels by Georges Simenon. All nicely bound in hard cover with a map of Paris as inside cover, as well as a good old-fashioned book-marker string. I purchased three of them so far but will surely get a few more before I return to Australia.
The choice of books here is mind boggling, with the great additional advantage that they cost half the price or less (around €9) compared to what we pay in Australia (if you were able to get them there !)

Shopping for clothes and food is also great here. There is a huge range of delicious delicatessen (meats, cheeses, salads, etc.) and far cheaper than in Australia.

I have been wearing a money belt but found that quite clumsy to use. So I have bought here a nice light vest with lots of zip-up pockets, which I will wear instead when traveling through France and Spain.

After a day of rather dense fog (23rd) the sun has come through this morning and it looks like becoming a lovely day (24th), so I may test the leg muscles and go for a short walk.

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Saturday - Monday, May 26 - 28 2012 (diary)

On Friday I managed to do another walk from Aha to Schluchsee, only 4.5 km but I was really struggling, needing to take a rest every 10 minutes or so. Partly I think, because of my continued cramp in the left leg and some general leg muscle pains. I got there in the end though (after 75 minutes) and had a delicious plate of Wienerle (sausages) and home made potato salad. I told the owners of the Seestation Restaurant that I had specially flown over from Australia to taste their potato salad again. They found this wonderful and told all their other guests in the restaurant about it.

Hotel Mediterranee On Saturday I took off by train : Freiburg - Offenburg - Strasbourg - Nimes - Arles, an from there caught the bus to Saintes Maries de la Mer.

Upon arrival I was somewhat dubious about the place, it is very touristy. The buildings are also very much in the Spanish style, but on closer inspection the genuine article, and not the pseudo Spanish look so popular (and now hated) from the Australian 60s and 70s.

My hotel is located close to the harbour and beach in the main street amongst "wall to wall" restaurants and tourist shops, on the whole not expensive.   Breakfast in the hotel is served on a picturesque terrace decorated with numerous plants and knick-knacks and the staff is very friendly.
The first evening I went of course on the lookout for this 6 oysters and a glass of wine deal for €6 as proclaimed in the LPG. I did find the place, but the price has gone up to €8.50 now, still a good deal and very delicious.

Paella The most popular dishes in town are oysters, mussels (moules frites) and Paella, the latter served up from a huge shallow dish (1 metre diam.) in front of the restaurant.
The culture overall is more Spanish than French. They have a small Bull ring right on the seaside Esplanade where friendly bullfighting (where the bull is not killed) took place over this weekend.
At the end of the evening the participating bulls were raced through the town streets flanked by horsemen riding on their white Camargue horses, quite a spectacle.

After a good night's sleep and breakfast I walked on my first day along the harbour onto one of the main beaches. I found there the only really waterfront beach restaurant Tahiti Plage (constructed from a few standard sea transport containers). It has its own private beach with deck chairs you can hire for €10 a day.

Water temperature of the sea (would you believe) is 20-22° Celsius, roughly the same as that in the early summer on our Australian Sunshine Coast, not bad at all.
Air temperature (as displayed on the daily updated blackboard of Tahiti Plage) is a very respectable 28-30°C with no humidity whatsoever. The beach itself is a light greyish-brown sand with no pebbles in sight, thanks goodness.
Very quiet as regards to sunbathers an swimmers, so a good option on the Mediterranean. I do like this place, despite its touristic nature Saintes Maries has a very casual, almost "old-time" feel to it, which reminds me of the beachside holidays in Holland (Noordwijk aan Zee) during the 50s and 60s.
Tahiti Plage
I now walk every morning a good stretch of beach (around 3-4 km) and find that my legs and stamina are getting a lot better and that is good. I celebrate the fact daily with a cool orange juice on the Tahiti Plage terrace.

Later today (28/05)
I have just returned from dinner. The number of restaurants in this town is truly mind boggling, but eventually I selected one of them.
First up a discussion with the waiter how I would like my steak cooked : a "Pavé de Taureau" (grilled fillet steak of a bull or ox as the case my be). The waiter understood "medium", but not "rare" or "medium rare", so eventually I decided to go all the way with the French "blue", which is as rare as you can get.

Well that is exactly what I got, a real treat. It must have just touched the grill plate for a second or so on either side, but definitely not longer. I can't remember having had steak so rare in a long time. And tender !!! unbelievable : the price ?   only €9.70 ($13) for a quality 200 gram steak with salad and chips.
Bulls and white horses in the Camargue
So besides shell fish the restaurants also all have steak on the menu here, especially from their home grown bulls, don't miss it when you're here !

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Tuesday - Thursday, May 29 - 31 2012 (diary)

I have trouble with my Gobal roaming and sending emails.
So responses will be forthcoming only spordically when I'm at a Wifi outlet.

With Safari guide Jerry, May 2012 Besides the boat trip on the 'Petit Rhone' (small branch of the Rhone into the sea) where I shot the photos of the bulls and horses, I organised a private "safari" with Jerry in his 4-wheel drive. The places we went to however could also easily have been reached by ordinary car.
The Camargue is a lot less wild than I had imagined it to be. There are a number of lakes with surrounding nature : salt bushes etc. in the salty parts, reeds around the sweet water areas. These are protected areas.
But there is a lot of farmland (probably more than half) which, besides grazing for horses, (a few) bulls and oxes, consists of numerous rice paddies (subsidised over production) and, increasingly, potato fields.

It was nice to drive around with Jerry and we got as close as we could to some flamingos.They don't look al that pink when they are walking, but as soon as they spread their wings they reveal their rather dark pink feathers. Although quite big, they only weigh about 2.5kg, so Jerry tells me.
Flamingoes at Les Saintes Maries de la Mer
Tuesday I suddenly ran into trouble with my Vodafone Global roaming. I just can't get access any longer. Perhaps it is this location here. There is only one tiny Kebab shop in town which provides Wifi Internet access (closed on Thursday). So I am off-line for the time being. I also closed my Jazclass shop as I won't be able to provide customers with quick and efficient service. Ah well : C'est la Vie.

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© 2012 Michael Furstner