Walking. I am still stumbling. I miss the New York pits at the end of every block; the up-jump opposite curbs. Instinct must get used to different surfaces. Here it is mostly flat, or stairs, or hills out of town. I don't miss the anti-car posts in the sidewalks. Parking seems to be mostly free here, and around the port there is a lot of it.
I went past the market place and up the hill. I guess 500 metres to the top, a roundabout with a closed maxi-store, the edge of town. No mention of how far to Collioure. I remember reading three kilometres. At first, sidewalks on both sides, separated from the traffic lanes and well-paved. Easy walking.
Past a housing estate, looking deserted, on an outcrop of rock thrusting into the sea. Then a cove far down, the sides covered with robust grass and cactus, with a path to a small beach, half graveled. Here are there odd bits of abandoned concrete.
Then, in a bend, there was some sort of health spa, closed, with empty windows. Across the way a hotel built down the side of a cove, with palm trees and a small blue pool. Around another corner and there was the first sign of Collioure, a tower on a stone jetty. Beyond, from the height, I could see Argeles, maybe some other spas, along the flats for 50 kilometres or more.
Collioure, to begin, was closed hotels beside the twisting road. Near sea level I climbed up through a park, with a fortress on top. On the other side I saw a tree that had fallen on two cars. Again at the bottom I tried a news shop. The owner had one book in English. Dirty, he said, four euros. That's cheap for a new book in France. Not a Goncourt winner though.
A lot of folks were sunning themselves in Collioure. It is an old town, with a lot of space for cafe terraces, and a wide gutter - more than one - in the centre to handle the short, sharp rainfalls. Stormdrains. This close to the mountains many places have them, but I haven't seen any in Port Vendres.
I gazed at Collioure. Maybe it looks like Saint-Tropez used to look. I have never been to Saint-Tropez. My guess is that there were 500 percent more people lounging around in the sunshine than at Port Vendres, even with a miniscule port holding only a few rowboats. I'll admit there are a couple of towers, a couple of beaches, one official and one not - too close to the sewer outflow? But yes, a tidy place, with lots of terraces, a museum, and other sights to see someday.
The walk back south, about 30 minutes, was as agreeable as the way north. The light was getting magical as the sun flirted with the back hills so I took out the camera and shot the harbor waters, glistening like silk with impossibly colorful ripples reflecting boat hulls and the varicolored houses facing the Vieux Port. Colors more real than real