Bonjour Toulouse!

Quelle surprise! My second trip within a month. Who would have thought, that I’d travel that fast again, after I just came back from Munich? I for sure didn’t. Everything happened so fast, when I realized, that there finally would be the opportunity of seeing my best friend after more than 5 long months again! It seemed like a dream. I was too afraid talking about it, taking the risk of the dream to pop like a bubble. Thank God it didn’t happen and I finally found myself on a plane on my way to vive la France! It was a flight of not even two hours on a little plane called sardine can with temperatures, that made me feel like I was about to go to Russia and the crew wanted to make us enjoy the “warmth”, before we’d discover arctic temperatures of -20°C. I couldn’t handle the heat and was blinded by the sun. So I closed my eyes and passed out immediately. After my power nap, I was wide awake and super excited. As soon as I left the plane, I had to tell my mind, that we’re back to summer. “Hold on a second. It was freezing this morning and now there is summer! I thought it’s almost November!? It has to be global warming…”. Of course it’s not complicated at all to get used to pleasurable things like these. Who wouldn’t prefer 24°C instead of 6°C! After a delighted reunion with my best friend, we started exploring the city. One thing, I spotted right away and cracked me up the most was a traffic sign, that said, that vehicles aren’t allowed to enter the street, except for bikes. The French word for this is “sauf”, which means “booze” or “boozing” in German. Of course these traffic signs were everywhere and of course I cracked up over and over again, whenever I saw them. Have some wine and jump on the booze bus or keep rollin’ in your booze wheelchair!

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On our way to the center of the city, I noticed a lot of trees on each side of the street. They were huge and I really enjoyed their color and squiggly kind of shape. “Back in the days, Napoleon Bonaparte planted these trees all over France, to give carriage drivers some shade. It’s very nice, especially in summer. Unfortunately it’s really dangerous nowadays, because of car accidents.”, my friend told me. Well, I guess, even little Monsieur crazypants didn’t see it coming, that there would be cars at some point. An unique thing about Toulouse, that I haven’t seen in any other city so far, are these cute carrousels (also known as “the shit that turns”), which are there all year long. “Oh, how cute!”, I heard myself saying out loud, as soon as I spotted them. I should have taken a ride, reviving the little kid inside of me. More than I usually do every single day anyway already. My friend asked me, if there were any places, I wanted to see and I had to think for a little while, until I knew, what I really wanted to see. The city hall! I can’t explain why I always want to see the city hall first. Maybe because they usually are the most beautfil buildings. And the city hall of Toulouse, Capitole de Toulouse, in fact was! The arcitecture itself is charmingly beautiful and the square in the front of the city hall, Place du Capitol, with a lot of shops and restaurants is the culutral heart and social hub of Toulouse. People are having a good time together while strolling around the flea markets, watching artists performing and fighting for their rights (which they do pretty often as my friend told me). Typical French cliché fulfilled! I guess, it’s just in their blood. Vive la révolution!

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It felt like, I was walking around 100 kilometers on foot during my stay in Toulouse, but it was worth it! I was being able to soak in all the beauty of this city, I started calling “the burning city”. My friend told me, that Toulouse is called “the pink city”, because of the sun reflecting on the houses facades, which are build from red bricks. As we walked along the Garonne (that river, that swallowed my lens hood!) around sunset, I had the feeling of the city being on fire. It was gorgous watching the light brighten up the entire city. A magnificent play of colors. What I really loved about Tolouse besides the incredible arcitecture, houses with their cute little balconies, you actually only can call “one step out and not more-balcony” (also called Juliette balcony) have been all these little alleyways, that are everywhere. I felt like my head was turning to the left and to the right every two seconds. I couldn’t get enough of exploring all these mystical “ruelles” as they are called in French. It seemed like, that most of the pictures, I took, have been from little alleyways. I guess, Toulouse looks like a maze from the top, if you’d look at a map. Every time I’m exploring cities with a lot of alleyways, I feel like, I am about to enter a secret magic world, not knowing what to expect at the end of the road. As we went to a mediaeval restaurant, we were about to enter my all-time favorite little ruelle, which I lovingly call “La ruelle de pee”, because it smelled like “Eau de pee” (“eau de toilette” is about to get a whole new meaning!) . But I didn’t mind, held my breath and enjoyed it’s eerie appearence! I loved the way it was turning to the left, darkness encasing light. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me, so that I only took a picture of it during daytime. Seized with remorse…

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France, as we all know, is the place to be when it comes to great food and even greater wine (if there is anybody out there, who won’t agree: stop reading immediately and get some help!)! If there is something, that gets me super excited, makes my heart beat faster and increases my anticipation, whenever I’m travelling to France, it’s the haute cuisine and delicate wine, that flows freely! Whenever we passed a restaurant, people were having tons of food and always wine. I love France for it’s “joie de vivre”! I always did. I can feel the spirit of them enjoying the little things in life. Taking it easy. French people do know how to enjoy these kind of moments, which are so little, seem so minor, but are important to appreciate, because we do them every single day. I remember my stay in France back in 2006, where I had a lot of wine at noon, the very first day after my arrival and was completely drunk (“Let’s go take a ride on the booze bus, peeps!!!”). There is no way, that people in Germany would start having wine or any kind of alcohol at noon, unless they are alcoholics or wine sellers! I could say, that it’s society, that makes us think that way in Germany, but it’s not. It’s just our (boring and dry) culture. As we were looking for a restaurant to have lunch, we found the most amazing cute little restaurant, I’ve ever been to. And where did we find it? Yes, hidden in one of the tiny ruelles! I love remarkable coincidences like these! As an appetizer, I had a big seashell looking ceramic bowl filled with all kinds of seafood in a creamy sauce with some cheese. After that, a vegetable au gratin and some refreshing lemon and cassis ice cream were waiting for me as a main course and dessert. I felt like “God in France” as we say in German! Another amazing meal, that blew my mind and changed my life (I’m addicted!) are mashed potatoes called “Aligot”! Mashed potatoes made with a special cheese. A lot of cheese! It’s a speciality from the south and became one of my favorite meals of all time, as soon, as I took the very first bite. Merci beaucoup to my friend for showing this piece of heaven to me!

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My stay in Toulouse was short, but wonderful and memorable (thanks to my personal tour guide and interpreter)! France always was and always will be my favorite place to travel in Europe! I can’t get enough from the remarkable culturally and culinary awareness, the people (oui!) and their way of life. France, you can be proud of all the spectecular beauty and rich variety of gorgeous places you have to offer! Toulouse and France always will be worth visiting. So I’ll say…

À bientôt!

 

 

 

 

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