Sunday, June 8, 2008

Day 119. (Sunday June 8). The Renaissance Fair

Alas, I must leave my dear old Provence and venture unto the scary world. I had heard that there was a medieval fair at Les Baux, so I headed on that direction. It was bitter sweet. On one hand it was beautiful. Les Baux is on a small limestone plateau that offered the perfect conditions for building a fortress (I still cannot figure out why attacking armies would not just go around and let the defenders bore themselves to tears), so they built this humongous complex. The perfect setting for a Renaissance Fair! (Actually, a Medieval Fair, but what is a thousand years for historically challenged people). The bad news is that the “mistral” was blowing with a vengeance, so the “lasses” and the “mecs” were freezing to death in their quaint costumes. I had a good time, cheering at the jousters and amazed at the many different types of catapults, and always in awe at the amazing complexity of a fortress that was occupied for a couple of thousands of years. Incidentally, the surrounding country is one of the big olive-growing regions of France, and the quilt-patch pattern of olive groves and grapevines is truly a masterpiece.

After lunch I headed back toward Spain, and finally made it to Barcelona around 6 pm. I had downloaded the directions to a camping place right in downtown, but I should have smelled a rat as soon as I started driving through medieval cities not wider than a pig’s breath. Indeed, I had been e-duped, so with tears in my eyes I had to drive out of the city to find a camping place. All is well that ends well, and I indeed managed to rest my head on legal ground. (But European campgrounds are packed, with each camper packed against each other, and have no such amenities as a table and a bench; yet, they are really expensive, at the tune of $30 a night. Also, Europeans “move in” into the campgrounds, building small “castles” at their sites with caravans, tents, gazebos, and every other convenience you can imagine. None of this “roughing it” for the European soul!)

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