June 25, 2010

Today we got into Angers.  We left the hostel fairly early this morning and walked to the train station.  When the ticket checker looked at my inter-rail pass he played a joke and pretended it was not valid.  He was smiling though, so I knew he was joking so we laughed and he went on.

When we got into Angers we tried to walk to the hotel.  This did not work since the map I printed out was wrong and showed the way from the castle to the hotel, not the train station.

While we were in the station we asked about getting to Sarlat.  It sounds like we will have to take three trains and most of a day.  We will actually have to go all the way back to Paris.  I’m not so happy about this but there is no way to change our plans.  I should have considered this when I booked the hotel but I thought the trains would make it easy to get everywhere.

We took a taxi to the hotel because we were not and tired.  It was nearly twenty-eight or twenty nine centigrade today.  The sun is unforgiving in the heat of the day or really any time after ten. This taxi driver was honest and only charged us what the meter said, which was six euros.  I am now fairly certain the driver in Tours cheated us out of three euros.  Life is like that.

We got into the hotel before our check in time but the room was ready so they gave us the key.  We crashed for a little while and rested.  I tried to get the Internet to work but it didn’t and I got annoyed.  I gave up and we headed out.

We meant to head to the Chateau of Angers first but we ended up finding the Cathedral first so we decided to begin there.  Before we went in we stopped at an H&M (a cheap but cute clothing store common to Europe).  I bought a pair of shorts.  Shorts were the one thing I forgot to bring on the trip.  I’ve just been wearing skirts, which are not great for sitting down on the grass for picnics.

We went in to see the cathedral.  It as relatively small and notable for it’s two large round windows and the scull of St. Marshall under its primary altar.  A not particularly good organist was practicing very loudly.  The air was heavy with the scent of incense, which was cloying when combined with the bad music.

Anna and I wandered around the church and found an interesting wooden carving, which we could not identify.  It was of a young woman slumped with her face half covered by what appeared to be a bit of ribbon.  We figured it had to be a female saint because Mary is never depicted as sad when she is young.

Next to it was a carving of Moses with horns on his head.  This confused Anna.  I’d seen something similar before in the British museum where they were having a visiting exhibit of medieval carvings from York.  In the middle ages Moses was often depicted with horns due to a mistranslation of the Greek and sometimes the Hebrew into Latin of the word for radiant or shinning light.  Apparently no one thought this was a little odd.

After this we went on to St. Michaels, which was a much smaller church.  It was originally built in the fifth century and had been rebuilt many times since.  The church itself was rather dull looking and mostly made of tufta and brick like stacked stones but the history was interesting.  They also had a interesting exhibit of statues.

We are our lunch in the shade outside the church and then made our way to the chateau.  We were entering into the worst heat of the day and kept to the shade as much as we could as we walked.  We arrived at the chateau.  The best surviving part of it was the heavy stonewall that surrounded the fortress and then the moat.  Unlike the fairy tale like castles we had seen before this one looked defensible.  Sadly it had also spent the Napoleonic years as a prison so all the original furniture and beautiful things had been stripped away, including many of the chapel fixtures.

We crossed a bridge to enter and saw the chapel, which was very bare. Then we went to see the Apocalypse tapestry.  It was a visual depiction of St. Johns vision from the book of revelations.  It was mostly complete although some pieces were missing.  I did not find it to be as fine as the unicorn tapestry but it was epic and imaginative.

Anna had recently read the book of revelations so she was able to explain some of it to me, or at least say what things were.  Essentially no one actually has any idea what it is really supposed to mean, St. John apparently wrote the whole thing without explaining anything.   It is either meant as an allegory for God concurring over evil or it is an apocalyptic prediction or maybe St. John was just a surrealist well before his time.  Who knows, the iconography is fascinating regardless.

I liked the seven-headed beast, which looked just like the seven headed dragon monster from Godzilla. I also recognized the image of the whore of Babylon astride the seven-headed beast.  Dante used the same image in his Purgatorio and Spencer used it at an odd point in The Fairy Queen.

After the tapestry we walked along the walls of the castle and the up to the top of the highest tower to enjoy the view.   Ann was exhausted so we walked back to the hotel after that.  She had a nap I rested.  In the evening we went out and had dinner at a take away past place before wandering through the city a bit before bed.  We started the second bottle of sparkling wine and plan the finish the other tomorrow.


About Policy Chick

I'm a first year Global Policies Masters student at the Lyndon B. Johnson LBJ School of Public Affairs
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