Sunday, April 24, 2016
After a few days emotion laden days in Eeklo / Zuienkerke /Gent with family and friends – it was the first anniversary of my dear brother’s, Stefaan, death – I headed towards Albi.
The journey went well – I was impressed with the dedication of all the people at the recently terrorism struck Brussels airport to get us travellers to our destinations as seamless as possible. These people have been there every day since the attacks and, frankly, haven’t received much recognition for being there every day, in what must be difficult circumstances. Stephen’s flight was a t12pm, mine at 3:30pm, so I had quite some time the kill. Some comfy little ‘napboxes’ in the lounge where I could rest my tired body and mind for a few hours sure helped. Upon arrival In Toulouse I quickly located the shuttle to take me to the train station, where I boarded a train to Albi. Walking out of the station, there wasn’t a taxi in sight but a kind woman offered me a lift to my hotel. Very nice. Checked into the Ibis Styles Albi Centre Le Teatro, connected with Stephen (who had just landed at IAD) and settled in for an early night to bed. I was very much looking forward to exploring a bit of Albi old town before travelling to the starting point of my walking week.
Monday, April 25th, 2016
My day in the Episcopal City of Albi, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
After a leisurely breakfast in my hotel, I set out for a walk around Albi around 9:45am. No need to start much earlier as nothing was open before 10am. Unfortunately quite a few places were closes on Mondays. Soit. The Old Town, being only about a square kilometer was very walkable, and, after a stroll which took me to the Cloître Saint-Salvi and the Cathédrale d’Albi, I went to the Musée de Toulouse-Lautrec, a visit I’d been looking forward to a lot – and it did not disappoint. The Museum is housed in the Palais de la Berbie, with its lovely gardens, worth a visit in itself. I decided to split my visit to the museum in two parts only to find it closed between 12pm and 2 pm. I had to remind myself I was in the South of France where the pace of life is obviously less ‘always open’ ;). No problem, I went back after 2pm. Meanwhile I crossed to River Tarn on the Pont Vieux and back on the Pont 22 Août 1944. As aforementioned, everything is very close so this was all done in about 30mins. A hoped visit to la Musée Lapérouse couldn’t happen as it was closed on Mondays. Enjoyed a café-au-lait (bit smaller than I’m used to) and sandwich with views of the Cathédrale, went back to my hotel for a short while – mainly to wait for the Musée de Toulouse-Lautrec to reopen; and went back there after 2pm.
Then back to the hotel to relax. Just before 5pm, Wilfried picked me up to take me to my first night’s accommodation at LA bouysse from where I’d start walk day 1. Dinner was with my hosts and 2 cyclists who were staying there as well.