Day 2 maybe was a little too ambitious; it’s always impossible to tell if and when you’ve bitten too off more than you can chew.
Starting at dawn with a photography walk around Carcassonne, left me a little tired for the rest of the day.
I had planned and hoped to end up in Provence camping out near the lavender fields in some rustic place.
Along the way, I’d pop by the Pont du Gard along the way. I had imagined visiting the roman aqueduct for years and imagined it being a case of getting off the bike and tilting my head over a barrier or some precipice to observe the architectural wonder! Maybe even go for a swim in the river (it’s what I heard people had done in the past and had recommended it to me)
However the reality was grimly disappointing, it was a hot day, there were cars parked every possible stopping area for miles around, the nearest I could get my bike to the vicinity was to a car-park immediately on top of it that wanted an unreasonable amount for parking. Entrance to the viewing platform of the bridge was another fee. I was tired and irritable and after wasting a considerable amount of time, figuring out that this was a tourist trap I drove on.
Onto Abbaye Notre-Dame de Senanque, I’d been hearing about this monastery for over a year since using the Calm app and being read to by Steven Fry about the Blue Gold as I fell asleep on many a troubled night. What I had imagined in my head vs the reality of a hot July summer’s day surrounded by obnoxious tourists with their selfie sticks, stopping mid-road, possessed with some self-centred need to be in the centre frame of whichever vista happens to be upon them, at the cost of safety and consideration to all others.
This maddening experience did not get any better the closer I got to the monastery. I was fortunate enough to catch a glimpse and a moment alone with an idyllic view of Gordes. As I made my way back my movements attracted the mindless to flock to stampede over in my direction to capture their own copy of the same view, I narrowly escaped being pushed off the edge by the zombies.
Day 2, as you can imagine, was hot and stressful. I had not eaten, I had nowhere to sleep yet, and my dreamy romantic visions of sleeping under a tree by some lavender fields was throttled by the stark reality that this is just another tourist trap.
I finally got to the Monastery sandwiched in a tight line of cars stop-starting as they would stop their car in the middle of the road to photograph the view for the 5th time in the last 2 minutes. There was nowhere to park. I stopped for what seemed like 3 seconds before deciding I wanted to get away from here.
Crash, Bang, Wallop!
Maybe it was the heat? Maybe I was too angry to see things straight? Maybe I was dehydrated? Who knows? I had parked on a slope in order to walk to the monastery, which I had immediately regretted, (I was at a place of worship surrounded by narcissistic tourists) and as I was getting myself ready to ride off, a momentary slip caused me and the bike to topple over, down-hill. Out of nowhere, some kind man helped me get the bike back up. I had bashed the bike a little and hit a few bits of my body in the struggle (down). I thought nothing of it as I now was on a mission to find somewhere to sleep. My day was not going great and I just wanted to be away from people.
It took what seemed like an eternity to find somewhere to camp, my first option was non-existent despite the GPS coordinates being good, and me trying to tackle the approach from several roads, the accessibility was not there. A secondary plan in the great scheme of things was to try and get water, I hadn’t stopped anywhere all day to eat and I hadn’t refilled water, sadly at 4 pm, all the shops were closed, I tried a couple of villages, but I was fresh out of luck.
I eventually found an idyllic location over Lac du Paty, it had many very clear signs that camping was prohibited and as I sat out on some of the benches there for a while as I saw the last of the cars drive away, I hung my hammock and stretched out to watch the sunset.
As I sat gathering my thoughts in the hammock I discovered the knock I took to my leg earlier when I had dropped the bike was actually a little more serious than I had thought. I had burst a vein in my shin when my leg knocked the crankcase. I had a bulge the size of a golf ball sticking out of my shin bone.