Day 24 – if they only had a heart

Morning came and I still had a leg, that was good news. Itched like hell but the thing hadn’t get any worse.

With the wind against us once more, we went back to the canal to visit and photograph the two écluses we had missed the day before because of time. It was right after lunch when my battery died, actually the camera’s battery. Lovely excuse to stop at a restaurant which is actually an écluse. Coffee and dessert while the three of us recharged, Sofia, me and the camera’s battery.

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We still had about 48kms to go before nightfall so we got back on the saddle. All of the sudden a long row of peniches docked on the left side. Maybe around 40. One bigger than the other, the other funkier than the first.

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Toto I have a feeling we are not in friendly France anymore.

As soon as we got closer to Toulouse the bonjours stopped. No friendly folks. Everyone minding their own business. Nobody moving out of the way even when the bicycle bell was ringing in their ears. The obstacle race had started agin. The warm hearts from the small villages were gone.

I’ve always said that places with rivers (or canals) passing through them have something very special. I take it back. What’s with Toulouse? No offense to the locals but in our opinion we are glad we are, like the canal, just passing through.

We reached the end of Canal du Midi, expecting, or at least hoping, for a sign or something of some importance. An announcement of the end of the canal, or the beginning, depending on the glass half full. But rien! And then again, the spot wasn’t that pretty either.

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Because of the lack of signs we couldn’t find the beginning, or the end, depending on the glass half empty, of the Canal latéral à la Garonne, so the easiest way to find it, obviously, was to walk into a hotel and ask. “Le quoi?, never heard of it”. Seriously?!?! What’s with these people! We are talking about some of the most important works of Engineering in France. Canal des Deux Mers? Pierre-Paul Riquet? Canal latéral à la Garonne and its beautiful path? At least some has heard of the Canal du Midi?! Really, besides Eiffel Tower and Versailles, there is a whole world of amazing architecture and engineering out there, out here. Actually one block from the hotel where people didn’t know what the canal was, we found it. The beginning of the Canal lateral de Garonne! And it wasn’t my pronunciation, first thing I thought, because I showed them the name in a book in French. Mon dieu!
They have even placed a sculpture of Riquet with his back to the Canal. Is that a reflection of their thoughts? I sure hope not.

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Well, we found it, and soon enough we were riding next to it, on our way to the point were we left before. 3,913 meters later we were at the first écluse!

Moving forward was the Atlantic.

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Back there we have left the Mediterrané

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With the wind in our backs, we couldn’t believe we were reaching 32 kms/hr. With that speed we were going to be at our next B&B around 6:00pm. Piece of cake! Except that when I made the reservation I didn’t know that the cake was a 7km-tier cake; all uphill, and I mean UP hill. We made it right before 7:30pm

Good thing I was riding ahead of Sofia so she couldn’t catch me to kick the heck out of me for my brilliant reservation. But…when we arrived we saw this beautiful place, it was worth every pedaling, every tight muscle, every *blip* thought in Sofia’s mind. It is actually a domain, Domaine Saint Guilhem. The owners, Philippe and Esmeralda are wonderful. The landscape covered in vines, the house warm and big!

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Philippe invited me to a wine tasting, now I’m a fan. He got everything together, went to the next room and came back with a mischievous smile, all of the sudden boleros!

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Just three sips of wine, three sips of three delicious wines (= 9). After, he lent me his Range Rover so we could go down the hill to dinner at a wonderful restaurant they recommended. It was so strange to drive a car again after all the bike riding.

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Back home to the amazing domain, wined and dined, oh it seemed just like a dream!

Hasta mañana my dear friends.