A sunny day in Montpellier

On Monday 25-Sep-2006 we finally got to leave the depressing hotel! Yay!

We had cold cuts for breakfast today (a very yummy French sliced ham of some kind, and some delicious cheese, on really nice rustic bread) then got dressed and went out for lunch today. First we had to find lunch, and we came to Maxi Kebab, which sounded perfect. The food was excellent. We both had lamb “sandwiches” (was rolled in lavash bread with salad greens and spicy sauce).

After lunch, we set off to find the mini Arc de Triomf on the west side of the old city. We intentionally got lost (well, let’s just say that we weren’t looking at the map…the city is too beautiful and the sky was a spectacular cerulean blue, so between snapping photos — soon to appear on my other web site — and taking in the scenery, we ended up pretty far off course). Anyway, we eventually made it up to the mini Arc de Triomf, then headed basically straight back to the hotel, which took maybe 15 minutes. All told, we had been out for about 3 hours. Then back to work.

I called Adam at 0851 PDT (1751 here) to talk about what’s going on at home. I have to say that technology is really amazing. I was talking to Adam while KCSM was playing on my computer in iTunes, over my local wireless Internet connection. KCSM is the Bay Area’s jazz station (FM 91.1). Adam heard the music in the background over my voice during the call. So that music had left the Bay Area and traveled over the Internet to my computer, was picked up by the microphone on my BlackBerry mobile phone, which was then digitized and carried over the local cellular infrastructure then over the international voice telephone network, and back to the Bay Area, to Adam’s mobile phone. That’s pretty much one of the most convoluted ways to listen to KCSM that I can think of (and one of the most expensive!).

The convenience of international cellular roaming is unbeatable. I just can’t wait until minutes are minutes, worldwide. For now, you pay a pretty decent per-minute charge for international wireless calls, which do have some regulatory overhead but which aren’t fundamentally more expensive to carry, especially as providers transition to VoIP backbones, and given that so few calls transiting their infrastructure are to international destinations. Trust the telcos to find a regulatory excuse to charge a lot of money for something that costs next to nothing. The extra charges for data roaming are completely indefensible. But that’s another rant for another day.

We had dinner at the Café Moderne, which was truly amazing. Deb said it was the first time she really felt that we were in France. I won’t go into the details of what we ordered here, but let’s just say we each had a three-course meal, it was a fixed-price menu, and the food was of extremely high quality. The best part was how enthusiastic the chef/owner was about his food. He even gave us a pear eau-de-vie (potent!) to finish off the meal, served in frozen shot glasses. I guess he could see how enthusiastic we were about his food. We returned to the hotel via a different path, which ended up being shorter, and we saw some nice fountains that I had seen from a distance when we were on the Place de la Comédie earlier in the day, and last night.

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