Since I’ve been back, I’ve been dead tired by 8pm (not normal end-of-the-day tired, either. Dead dog can’t stay awake one more second tired) and have been waking up at around 3:30 am. Since I refuse to get out of bed that early on general principles, I’ve been tossing and turning until the morning news comes on. For some reason once the a.m. news is on I feel okay getting up and puttering around before having to take a nap at noon in order to stay awake until 8 pm.
But yesterday morning, tired of freezing my ass off, I called the gas company and used the magic words: “I smell gas when I try to light my heater”.
They promised to have someone over that day, which I suppose is technically true – the guy finally came at 11:30 pm and lit the heater in about 45 seconds, but the really important thing was that I managed to stay awake late enough that I slept until 6 am.
Hooray! We’ll see how late I can stay up tonight. I may go see a movie, but there’s not that much playing right now at any theater I can get into for free, so I may just stay home and watch old episodes of The Simpsons.
Anyways, more about the trip:
We’d flown into De Gaulle (which is north of the city), but since were were driving south and anything involving a car and Paris is really best avoided altogether, we picked the car up at Orly – because of the transit strike, it took us a couple of hours to get there from our hotel (only one train out of 10 was running, so we sat on on the subway platform for about an hour).
If you’ve never seen it, Orly is easily the ugliest airport I’ve ever seen – think Soviet era block construction with a faded, pigeon-splattered facade that’s seen better days. I was afraid to take a photo in case the French were as hysterical about photos in airports as we are. There were hoards of angry-looking cops everywhere, so I decided not to chance it.
After a quick trip into the terminal for a cup of coffee, we got our car (which took well over an hour due to some confusion) and headed out.
Of course, as soon as I got behind the wheel of the first stick shift I’ve driven in years it started to pour rain, and we were unable to figure out how to turn on the windshield wipers – the car’s manual didn’t help as it was written in French, so I ended up just having to hit the washer button every 15 seconds until I accidentally turned on the wipers (and then couldn’t figure out how to turn them off once the rain stopped, of course).
Once we managed to get on the big highway, we got to Orleans pretty quickly and then we decided to get out, walk around and have lunch.
Orleans’ old city (near the cathedral which seems to be the main tourist draw) is really cute, and even though it was pouring (I got completely soaked) it was still very charming:
Since everything was closed, we headed out and this time we stayed off the superhighway and drove on the back roads, which was a very good call since we stumbled upon a town called Beaugency.
We braved the rain, took some photos and found an open bakery where we loaded up on bread, but I couldn’t find any coffee – just about everything was closing for lunch, which hadn’t been a problem in Paris because so much there stays open. Somewhere in the back of my mind I’d had an idea that it wouldn’t be like that in the smaller towns, but I hadn’t given it much thought and now it was coming back to haunt me.
After getting completely lost on the unmarked backroads, we pulled into the town of Blois and once again got lost – we’d called ahead for a room in a hotel that one of the guidebooks recommended, but when we got to Blois the ‘confuse the invaders’ street plan had us driving around in circles for the better part of an hour – we saw the hotel once, but couldn’t get to it due to the one way streets, so we stayed in another hotel that was run by a very nice man who pointed us towards a laundromat so we could wash some clothes.
Afterwards, we went out to a really nice place for dinner and I ate everything the chef recommended (all of it came from the surrounding area and was delicious).
In the morning, we went to see the chateau in Blois since my travelling companions wanted to see castles (I’m fairly indifferent to them. I’ve been to Europe before and my attitude towards castles is that since I’ve seen one, I’ve very likely seen them all), and I took some photos of the exuberant decor inside and the postcard view of the old city:
We then headed towards the day’s next castle, which is where I’ll pick up next post