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Day Two, Toulouse, May 12th

Alarm awakes me at 5:20 AM.

Pack. Shower.

Leave for the Metro to get to La Gare Austerlitz – my train leaves for Toulouse at 7:40 AM.

The ticket machine won’t take my credit card. I have to get coin from the street top at a bar (open for coffee). It takes me a while to figure things out, as it was 2003 since I last used the trains and metros together in Paris. But this is why I left so early.

7 hours to Toulouse.

On the train, I work.

Soon I will have logged in 22 hours of travel time in two days, three more tomorrow, and then nine hours more the following day. I wonder when I will rest.

I am worried that my hotels are too far from where I need to be and this is going to cost me dearly in either money or time. I am not satisfied by this arrangement. There is nothing I can do now that will not cost me deeper, so I will “bite the bullet.”

I am sitting next to Baitiel. She is going to a friend’s wedding in Toulouse. Baitiel is Thais, has two boys in college, works as a Thais masseuse in Paris, pays for her boys to go to college and sends money home for her parents. She lived in Israel for 16 years.  Baitiel has me sit on the floor so she can work her elbows into my trapezius and giving me back some neck mobility.

French countryside is lush, extraordinary: manicured it seems, with aesthetic panache.

The train follows the river. I imagine a different life where friends and I take a week and kayak this river that meanders through France one French Spring or Summer.

Each little town we pass seems to have a big stone church… I feel missed opportunities passing by.

Arriving in Toulouse, I set up the rental car for tomorrow’s drive to Albi at an Avis.

Time is tight to achieve my shoot list so I seek out the churches.

I arrive first at Paroisse St-Sernin. This is a gem. Rich with new material – this was unexpected. Shoot for a couple hours. The organ is being tuned, and interesting soundtrack to my discovery. Oddly this is a Romanesque/Baroque combination. This is a good find.

It starts raining.

Another good find is Notre-Dame de la Daurade, also of Baroque influence. Lot’s of good new material here too.

Toulouse is a little town along a river with beautiful bridges, has a university and a large town square – a lot of youth – it reminds me of Prague in spirit. The building are old and mostly brick –I imagine fun place to club & party for sure. Some punk looking homeless – they all seem to have dogs, and are drinking beer. Looks like the economy has hurt Toulouse.

The last worthwhile stop of the day is the Cathedral Etienne of Toulouse but Mass is going on so I only shoot a few from the rear of the church and then head out to where I am told I can get a taxi to my hotel which is located far from the historic part of town.

Needless to say, I am beat.

I wait for a Taxi, but none arrive and I decide to walk to the hotel.

I have come to the conclusion that that a 17 inch MacBook Pro is great for editing photos, but deadweight when walking… 8 kilometers with nearly 50 pounds (Camera gear and accessories – traveling heavy) – the laptop strap cutting into my neck. I have been carrying these all day as I photographed the four majors of Toulouse – a quaint little town that reminds me of Prague in spirit. The 8-kilometer walk to the hotel does me in. Now is when I could use Baitiel elbows.

Too tired to eat – but I do edit until I start to get those electro shocks that are like black outs where for a second my entire body seizes and I try to stay awake but I am somewhere in that mid-land of on and off – my will says to keep going and my brain and body are shutting down.

Things are going to have to change.

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