The U4 to Marazion and St. Michael's Mount
Marazion is a ten-minute bus ride south of Penzance that would be a nondescript fishing village were it not for the Mont St. Michel lookalike about a half-mile out in the tidal bay fronting the town. St. Michael's Mount is smaller, compared to it's more renowned cousin on the coast of France, but no less impressively salient in its lonely outpost even from as far away as Penzance. These are the kinds of sights I like to see just where they lay, perched on a horizon from a spot on a distant highway devoid of tourists. There would be nothing inside this fortress monastery that would induce me to enter its tourist-clogged arteries, carried along at the shoulders by the suffocating crowds as I was at France's Mont St. Michel several years ago. I caught some breaks this time.
First, the tides were in my favor when we arrived: still too high to walk across the causeway, but too low for ferries to land and transport us. I love the moon. She is my friend. The hour we had to wait for the tide to expose the causeway was pleasantly passed in a pub, thanks to there being nothing to see in the village itself, save for a couple of burly construction workers in shorts that reminded Carol (and what a wistful expression on her face when she pointed them out to me) of the Village People. She was hardly discreet snapping off several photos as they posed in front of the scaffolding they'd set up. She became positively girlish when they popped into our pub for a pint.
Needless to say it was me who had to remind Carol there was a causeway to walk. (Now her expression went from wistful to woeful, as we left the pub with Carol humming bars of YMCA.)
There was still a film of water over the midpoint of the causeway, and Carol reprised her barefoot in the park role as she had done in Lyon to much fanfare and ado when she'd gone down like a sack of truffles on the slippery medieval street. This time I was more diligent, though many of the female pilgrims crossing with us also did so barefoot.
The other break was that the causeway opened just as the monastery was closing for the day. Nothing gladdens my heart (and soothes my feet) more than approaching a ticket window for admission to hallways full of broken pieces of Roman sculptures, brooding medieval religious paens and portrait galleries of little pissant princes and princesses than the response: "I'm sorry sir, the museum is closing shortly."
Carol already knew the monastery would be closed, and when, upon arriving at the foot of the mount, she saw how steep the climb would have been, she delighted to the task of capturing views of it with the rapidly changing light. Later in Cardiff, she would sign up (solo I must report) for a tour of the royal house at Cardiff Castle, and then pronounced herself cured - after climbing unrelenting spirals of stone staircases - of the need for any more castle or monastery tours.
I hasten to state that this ongoing journey in travel companionship is not one of Carol only seeing and doing things my way, which is to more or less wander about without doing or seeing much of anything at all. I'm seeing and doing far more than I would do on my own, enjoying these experiences in the vicarious way of seeing the delight of these experiences show in Carol's eyes the same way it did in Carolyn's.
And for Carol it is seeing the delight in my eyes when we happen upon a cozy, low-ceilinged, half-timbered, dimly lit pub right around Happy Hour.