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Sète 23 May 2016

1176 : 829

A catch-up day. Days like today remind me of an important travelers' lesson learned in 1989 with my family in Roratonga, a Pacific island nation that can be driven around in 45 minutes. We had no reason to go there, other than it sounded cool, and we could. One plane a week on to New Zealand. Second stop on our Pacific Rim tour. Nothing to do but walk the beach ...and survive.

For me at least, one of travelling's greatest pleasures is having time to enter into the life of the place you find yourself, and experience. That's today's objective. See if we can establish an interesting rhythm within the unfamiliar offerings and constraints of the environment into which you have thrust yourself. 

After yesterday's relocation, a quiet catch-up day is welcome. Rochelle is happily doing her art. We have Leonard Cohen singing softly in the background. I have a little work to do. All's well in Sète.

1177 : 822

When I get up to look out -- a wandering guitarist is serenading the restaurant customers below us -- the view to the west is what we came for. Sète is a sort of maritime Chicago: big shouldered fish butcher to the continent. None of the pretensions of a Collioure. No one seems to be in much of a hurry, but things get done. 43,000 Setois living tightly packed on their island on the northern edge of the Mediterranean, doing about what we're doing, working our way through another day. 

1178 : 816

In the morning, we share croissantes and then go to Les Halles, the city's morning market, for supplies for our dinner. Compared to yesterday, the market is abandoned. For the Cettois (they spell it both ways; in Roman times it was Cette) the big event of the day is lunch. Right across the street we find a very tucked in little place with an intriguing Formule, so in we go. The server's English is as bad as my French, so we manage in Franglais to order a delicious lunch ... so delicious we forget to take pictures of the main course. 

The entree, at right, is a roulade of ecrevisses (crayfish) and sprouts with a little salad and spicy Thai mae ploy sauce. Lunch is a beautiful little Dorade, a sea-bream with great flavor and lots of little bones, served whole with a lovely line-up of gently sauteed vegetables. "We are eating some very interesting things," remarks Rochelle. Super clean flavors, simply prepared, presented elegantly. This in a tiny six-table restaurant on a side street.

1179 : 808

After lunch we wander across the Royal Canal and over to the second canal, where there's a summary of Sète's history: a tall ship from Amsterdam, with petroleum tanks in the background. We return to our apartment to finish our day's work and relax from yesterday's exertions.

A little later we take another excursion out to find a natural food store. We're stocking up on "essentials" for the boat: farro (or as close as we could get: blé) and some peppermint tea. Surprisingly, mint and peppermint are scarce here.

1180 : 797

Here's dinner! Even better than in Collioure; now we have chicken and mushrooms to add to the other bounty of the season. A glass of rosé from the Hérault (the département we're in, like a state, of which there are 96 in France). Unlike our early season (read "tasteless") tomatoes, we're getting succulent beauties. Spoiled by our greenhouse's production of yummy tomatoes right into December, it's a treat to get these for our salad.

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