30 December 2016

246. AUXERRE IN BURGUNDY


On the way up to Belgium I didn't bother to stop anywhere. Road signs usually take you around on some ring road to your next destination unless you specifically follow those with "Centre Ville" on them.  On my way back from Belgium I did stop in two places. At one stage I drove across a peaceful river and parked right along its left bank where barges were nicely tied up. I was in Auxerre, a city in Burgundy. And as it turned out "downtown" in Auxerre is up on a steep hill.

 
The river YONNE flows northward into the Seine river and then still northward into the Channel













AUXERRE is pronounced "aussaire" and is renowned in France for its football team. I thought I'd explore it  for a while. Climbing up the steep and narrow medieval streets I arrived in front of a side door to the huge cathedral, named St Etienne i.e. St Steven in English. Houses are built right up to the walls of the cathedral. You'd think... how rude!... the reason being, I heard, that in medieval times people thought that God himself dwelled inside the church and therefore, if you wanted to be in a "safe" place, it was wise to live as close to it as possible.





When I arrived at the top there was a small square with parked cars and restaurants, cafeterias, bars, pizzerias, all kinds of eating places. In France the main meal of the day is lunch and shops and offices close down from 12 to 2pm. This square had attracted all the hungry people in the town and so, when I entered a certain "brasserie", the waiter apologized that the place was full... except for one high chair at a bar like table already occupied by two diners. I didn't mind, sat there and ordered a "salade océane", a mixed salad with sea food on it. Quite yummy. And a conversation started between a young woman and myself about... traveling and living overseas! Well, yes, it's my favorite subject and it went well with the "salade océane".

On the way down to my car I bought two bottles of Burgundy wine. My favorite is Bourgogne aligoté. 

  


29 December 2016

245. The Urge To Share


- Look Mum what I found!

Children are always eager to share what they find or discover. FaceBook is surfing on this urge. As adults we tend to refrain from pulling people by the sleeve to "share" what we've found or discovered but FaceBook said it's O.K... it's even all we do on FB. When I find some article or some photo or some story I like, I click on the button "share" and all of my "friends" get to know about it. The story I wanted to share with them appears in their notifications like a dead bug with 6 legs on your mom's hand.

Well... I got tired of that after some years on FaceBook and deleted my account. Now I'm back with blogging and I'm going to SHARE this little story with you, of my recent trip from the middle of France where I live to my cousin's place in Belgium. Will you like it?!

See my google map below.

As I can't drive my old car, a Talbot Samba of 1981, on motorways being a nuisance to the traffic zooming past me in anger, I chose to drive on highways. Much more pleasant in any case: you can stop anywhere any time, take photos or have a picnic by the roadside. So from CHATEAUROUX I drove eastwards to BOURGES and out further to LA CHARITE-sur-LOIRE, the Loire river there being the eastern limit of my province of Berry. Then in a kind of slanting North-East itinery I drove to and past AUXERRE, then TROYES and finally CHALONS-en-Champagne where I stopped overnight at the Campanile Hotel. Straight roads all the way, flat country, Burgundy and Champagne provinces. That was on a Sunday, easy going no heavy traffic and no trucks as trucks and lorries and other heavyly loaded monsters are not allowed on French roads on Sundays. I hope they keep that rule, it's great.

In the morning even at 9 am when I was ready to move on there was a heavy coat of ice on my windscreen. Not easy to get out of town and find the right exit with a small hole in the windscreen and no visibility at the back. But my little old car is great, the heating system sends hot air inside very fast... not like some supposedly modern machines! And with the precise advising of the young lady at the hotel I was able not to miss the wrong turn. I wanted to take the ordinary road through the battle fields of WWI. The names of some villages were familiar to me from my grandfather's stories. Very flat country. End of November and beginning of December was sugar beet harvesting. Monster machines were vomiting large size beets on great heaps of them by the side of the road where similarly monster trucks were taking them away. I stopped and sneeked to pinch one sugar beet... t'was for teaching purpose Sergeant! Yes, I thought I'd show a sugar beet to my grandchildren for them to visualize where the sugar we eat comes from. Next an along the road were military cemetaries with rows of small white crosses and a war memorial on top of a hill. Flat country, flat as a pancake.

After I got to RETHEL, hills and woodland started to appear. I had reached the Ardennes region. Then it was straight northward to CHARLEROI where I reached my cousin's house at 3.30 pm. Since he wasn't going to get home from work before 6 I ended up in a tavern drinking various Belgian beers... All is well that ends well... I hadn't seen my cousin in donkeys years and was very happy of my little trip to Belgium.

I never stopped for a photo on the way up. Coming back I took the same road, stopped overnight at the same hotel in Châlons-en-Champagne and made sure to have some photos to SHARE of the last day of my trip.

  








254. END OF THIS BLOG

I started this blog in 2005 under a different name. When I deleted it at one stage its title was stolen, borrowed, hijacked by someone ...