June 19, 2010
We left Paris for Tours today. It was a long day. Our train was at 12.20 but we had to check out of our hostel by 11am so we checked out by 10:30 and were on our way. By eleven we were in the station. The subway didn’t take as long as we expected. We waited an hour in a café and then got on our train. In retrospect it would have been nice to get an earlier train.
We didn’t have a seat for the first leg of the journey since an Inter rail pass doesn’t reserve a seat just a place on the train. We got seats on the second half of the journey after people left.
When we got in we couldn’t seem to get a Taxi and the bus seemed confusing so we decided to try walking to the Hostel. The problem was we went a long way in the wrong direction and by the time we sorted it out I was exhausted and my back hurt from carrying my pack.
We got a taxi, which turned out to be surprisingly expensive. I think he cheated us or at least stretched the rules. The number thing at the front said only five euros but he demanded eight. He said there was a minimum charge of six euros and then each piece of luggage cost a euro. This logic doesn’t follow since the cost of the luggage plus the number would have brought the cost up over six euros and he wouldn’t have had to charge us an extra euro to get it up to the minimum cost. Besides the number thing at the front began with a cost of two euros fifty from the very start of the ride, so surely that was the minimum cost. I have never been in a cab before where the driver has vocally added an extra cost at the end that they did not calculate from the start on their little number thing. We were too tired to argue and the total cost was only eight euros but I know he was dishonest and took advantage of our unfamiliarity with the taxi laws. We will try to avoid taxis in the future when we can.
When we got to the Hostel we discovered that there was no one at the desk and nowhere to leave our luggage. We could not check in or leave our bags until five in the afternoon. This made it impossible to do anything with our afternoon.
We shouldered our packs and went to the Place Plumereau and had a coffee. Since I had my computer I checked for WiFi and found that the nearby Irish Bar had a free network. I checked my email and sent several days worth of emails to my family. I checked my facebook and found that in a week’s absence I had missed nothing and received only one message. I found this oddly reassuring. Being disconnected to the web for a week did not cause me to miss anything. I updated one blog post and decided to do the rest later. The blog will have to run a week behind or so, especially if I plan to put in photos and videos.
The plaza began to fill around five and students and tourists soon surrounded us. A small tourist train drove by every hour or so and a horse drawn carriage trundled past every half hour.
We walked back to the Hostel and checked in. Once our packs were at last dumped we explored the down. We bought a Rose wine at a local winery, a pastry of liquored cherries, cream and chocolate at a pastry shop and a whole rotisserie chicken at another shop to carry away.
With dinner in hand we went to sit by the river and have an early meal. It felt vaguely barbaric to eat with our fingers but we didn’t have utensils so we ate the warm chicken with our fingers and then the dessert. We didn’t have the wine since we didn’t have glasses and drinking strait from the bottle was too un-classy even for a pair of college students.
We walked along the river a long ways. We passed a beer garden where children were pretending to be jousting knights with wooden horses and young men were play fighting with foam swords. It seemed like a mini renaissance fair or something.
We kept on until we decided to cross the river. We chose the wrong bridge through because it took us onto a road far on the other side and nowhere near the river. We followed the road until it at last took us to a pedestrian bridge and we could re-cross the river.
We walked to the Cathedral expecting to find it closed and hoping to see the outside. To our surprise it was open so we wandered inside. It was very lovely and peaceful in the late afternoon. The glass windows were an odd mix of many different eras. The stone frames had not changed but very little of the original glasswork remained.
There was an odd mix of modern abstract glass windows, modern attempts at classical glass windows, and windows of painted not stained glass, and modern stained glass of colors not possible until the twentieth century. I suspect that over the years as windows became damaged and needed do to be replaced the church replaced them with the style of the time without ever thinking about the symmetry of the windows. It was an odd mix but the overall effect of the windows, colors and lights was intact. The Cathedral was a beautiful unity of open space, arches, colonnades, light and air. Time had taken the luster of most of the churches original decorations but it could not deaden the beauty of the architecture.
Next to the church was the Museum of Art. We found the garden was open and wandered in. It was nice with lots of square shaped hedges. There was also a side building with a huge taxidermy elephant. It seemed that one of the Barnem and Bailey elephants once died on tour and it was stuffed and preserved there. It was a little odd to look at.b
We walked back through the city and at last returned to the hostel. We had half the wine, which proved to be surprisingly good for a 2009 Rose. It was more like a sweet cocktail but I liked it. I have just enough taste in wine to know when its not particularly good wine but sufficiently little knowledge of wine not to mind when a cheep wine is merely passable. Anyway we usually end up taking half the bottle in a flask the next day for lunch and it would be a shame to do that with a really good wine. Regardless we probably need to stop buying such cheap wine and at least upgrade to the five-euro bottles. We plan to buy at least one bottle of good wine this week.