Monday, November 18, 2013

Must. Have. Coffee.

Pages from Jan's Travel Journal: Monday, February 23, 2009

Craig and I are still having some trouble adjusting to the Kansas-to-France time difference. We awoke early and as soon as we were dressed, walked across the street to the little shopping center next to the train station. We found a boulangerie, "Paul", and enjoyed coffee (first cup of the day!) and pastries. I was pleased with myself for being able to order in French. After our tasty breakfast, we went into Carrefour, which is a grocery/department store. This may sound silly, but I have always enjoyed wandering in foreign markets and looking at the items so different than what we have at home. We purchased an inexpensive coffeemaker, some ground coffee, a package of cookies, and a mouse for the laptop. Delighted with ourselves for having done all that without using any English, we returned to the hotel with our items. Just as we were about to go inside, we spotted Darcy and Mathieu across the street, so we invited them up to our room for coffee. Darcy was surprised and pleased that we had managed so well on our own. 

After lingering over coffee, we went out in search of lunch. We found a little sandwich shop, where Craig and I shared a panini of ham, Swiss cheese, and mushrooms, as we were still a bit full from breakfast. The four of us soon boarded a sleek, modern tram and began our short journey to the University. It was a pretty ride through town and across the river Loire. The college campus is very nice, though not as attractive as the campus of WSU or as beautiful as KU. Craig and I were pleased to be allowed to participate in Darcy's English class. That day, she had just two students - a young woman from Algeria, and a man from Nice who is an attorney. It was interesting to speak with them.

Me, Darcy, and Mathieu at the University of Orléans

Darcy had some business to attend to after class. It involved a lot of walking to several different buildings on campus. A brisk breeze had sprung up, and by the time we were back on the tram, heading for her apartment, we were chilled through. A hot drink was a welcome thought, so we found a cafe near the Cathedral of St Croix, where I sipped a café crème, Darcy warmed up with mulled wine, and Craig enjoyed an Irish coffee. We had a lovely view of the cathedral from the cafe windows. The cathedral St Croix was constructed beginning in the 13th century. That little fact was mind-boggling to me. We wanted to be able to tour the cathedral, however, it was undergoing some serious cleaning and refurbishing and was largely closed to the public.

Cathédrale Sainte-Croix in Orléans, France

On the way to Darcy's apartment, we stopped in at an alimentation, which is a convenience store. We picked up some snack foods - pistachios, sausage, cheese, and cookies, which we munched while checking email and making a few calls home from Darcy's place. The three of us also played a trivia game while waiting for Mathieu to arrive, when we would all walk over to the Rue de Borgogne, a charming street lined with tall, half-timbered buildings where there are many restaurants. We chose an Indian restaurant. I am somewhat unfamiliar with Indian food, so Darcy and Mathieu helped me choose a creamy lamb curry that would not be overly spicy. We really enjoyed our meal, and lingered a couple of hours over our food, which is not unusual in France. I enjoyed every course, and immediately became a fan of the cheese nan! 

After dinner, Craig and I declined Mathieu's kind offer of a lift to the hotel. He would have had to walk home just to get his car, so even though it was a brisk evening, we waited for the tram. It was nice to be able to return to our comfy beds in the warm hotel room, where we soon settled in for the night.

Travel Tip: If you are a light sleeper, I recommend that you travel with a white-noise machine. A battery-operated version is inexpensive and will mask the outside noises and voices from the hallway. There are also apps available for your electronic devices which perform the same function. I always use white noise, and sleep like a baby no matter where I travel. 

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