I do apologize for the lateness of this post. I could make up some excuse about being overwhelmingly busy or something, but that is a boldfaced lie, so I must chaulk it up to laziness instead. I bet you're all dying to hear about my vacation. What? You didn't know that I had one already? Well I did. This is, after all, France.
The first vacation "scolaire" of the school term happens right around Halloween. So, I had a holiday from Oct 23rd - Nov 2nd. Even though the good majority of les francais are non-religious/atheist, they still have enough saints for every day of the year, sometimes even having to double up. And because of all these saints, they need one big communal feast day, and what better day to have All Saint's than right after that devilish of all days, that pagan Halloween - much like Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday. Party! then REPENT. What Catholics do best.
Since we were encouraged by the program to stay in France proper during this first holiday, I decided to visit a part of France I had yet to see, the Loire Valley. Home to beautiful scenery, lush countryside, wide, still rivers, and of course, les chateaux. I thought combining two of my favorite things, history and pretty stuff, would make for a great vacation.
And it was, with many adventures...and misadventures along the way.
I left Monday the 25th, boarding a train from Beziers to Montpellier, where I would catch another train to Tours, via Lyon. Too bad the greves (french strikes) had another idea. My train had been cancelled, so I waited patiently in the line for the ticket office that stretched out the glass doors and meters deep into the waiting area. Fortunately, things turned out in my favor. Without any extra cost, I was reassigned a faster train to Tours via Paris. Arriving at Gare du Lyon, however, I realized that I had about 45 minutes to get to a different train station to catch the train to Tours. 45 minutes sounds like enough time, but Paris is large and even if you're like me and are familiar with the Paris metro, you will find yourself scrambling. I ended up running through Gare Montparnasse, barely making it in time. whew.
It was smooth sailing after that. I was picked up at the station in Tours by my couch surfing host, Myriam. She very graciously put me up for two nights in her adorable apartment, feeding me and showing me around the city. She even called a hotel for me, setting up a triple room for my two friends (arriving wed) and I at a fraction of the price of a single room elsewhere. Thanks Myriam!
Wednesday Oct 27th:
Elaine arrived in the late morning and together we got impulse buy hair cuts. Yay! Mine is shorter that it's been in a long time, but I really like it. Then, joined by Colleen, we settled into our cute and cozy hotel room at Hotel Foch, in the heart of the 'old city', and home to the friendliest old man concierege ever.