On sunday, I met up with a good friend of my sister. Anais, who is from just outside Rouen, picked me up from where I was staying, even farther out in the country. This was the first time we had met, and it was really nice to meet her, as I had heard much about her from my sister.
Her mom drove us downtown, and she showed me around the town. I happened to have arrived during a 2 week long fair that comes to town every year, bringing with it many rides and food stalls.
We walked though the throngs at the fair, heading downstream along the Seine. The fair stretches for quite a ways along the river. I tried a crepe with Nutella, very tasty, and we walked some more. Anais got me guimauve, a candy with a taffy like consistency, but a flavour that is quite unique. It took me almost an hour to eat it.
Just as we were leaving the sun made a brief appearance, shining down on the cathedral.
We crossed back over the river to the Rouen side, and I saw the place my sister came to sit with her friends. We walked and walked all over for quite a time, seeing all there is to see in Rouen, including Jean d'Arc's place of captivity, and where she was burned.
We took the bus out to her house, a little ways away, up out of the river valley. I met her brother, then her sister, and he mom again. Her sister speaks english, and we all sat down and talked, well her sister talked, and we tried to get a word in, until it was time to get a ride back out to my host house in Isneauville.
Dinner this time was a lot more relaxed and quiet. No dancers to be seen. We had quiche Lorraine. That is a very very tasty dish. Afterwards, I tried some cheeses, and found that there are some I really really don't like. I had a hard time getting the Camembert to stay down.
After a chat on skype to my family, I went to bed.
Sleeping until 10 is a very nice feeling. I woke up and found that the sun was shining, and the clouds were all gone.
I had lunch when Jean Claude came home at noon, the leftovers of the previous night's dinner. Heading into town with my camera, I set out to take advantage of the rare sunlight.
It turned out that it was not sunny for very long, the clouds rolled in pretty quickly, so I did not get to much in the way of photographs. I did however find something very tasty. "Pain au Chocolat" is the name. Basically a square croissant with chocolate. Mmmmmmmm......
At 4 I met up with Anais when she got out of school, and we went right to a bakery and got a baguette for me to eat.
Finishing it on the bus, we got off about half way to her house. We walked and walked all through Mont St Aignon, visiting a beautiful park next to the golf course I had been to, and eventually ended up at her house again, and this time made started making crepes. The first one turned out horribly, but then Anais's mom showed up and corrected our rookie mistakes. They turned out great after that, and we had them with all sorts of dessert toppings from chocolate, to jam, to honey.
A ride back to Isneauville later, I was having supper. I can't really remember what we ate that night, but I am pretty sure it was tasty.
Tuesday morning brought with it fog, and lots of it. I had lunch with Jean Claude again, and spent the early afternoon writing the post before this one, and figuring out how to get it onto their Mac that is the only thing connected to the internet.
I eventually succeeded, and headed to out to meet Anais once again at her school. At her house again, her mom made us something kinda like a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, but very different, and all together more French, and we sipped some of Normandy's famous cider.
Anais and I got a ride into town to a little bar where we sat amidst very funky decorations. We each had the little bartender's secret recipe, beer with a touch of vodka and lemon added, and although very skeptical at first, having tasted it, it is an unlikely but quite pleasing combination.
In the morning, having got a ride back to Isneauville after leaving the bar, I got up a little early, and went to town to meet Anais at noon. We went to a cafe and had galettes, myself choosing the Tuscan one with mozzarella, tomatoes, and various herbs.
We went across the river to get dessert. We both got gaufre, a special waffle with many choices of toppings.
After walking towards the bus, we decided to visit the fine arts museum. There were many many amazing paintings, and some of them were huge. Absolutely mind blowingly huge.
The coolest thing was one of the staircases. I was painted with seemingly random patches of orange, going in all different directions, and all different colors, but when you looked at the convex mirror placed in one of the corners, the orange formed perfect circles. It was not just standing in one spot that it occured either, you could stand anywhere in the stairwell, and the reflected image was always of perfect orange circles. Very cool.
Once we got off the bus at her house, we went in and watched tv for a while, talking all the time. I had to leave early to get back to Isneauville. After saying goodbye, and promising to come back soon, I took the bus back to Rouen, then to Isneauville, getting in just after dark at around 5.
We were heading to the neighbor's house for supper that evening, and we left shortly after I got in.
Dinner was cous cous again, and afterwards we played a fun game where there were cards that had clues in french, and one person read those out, and the rest tried to guess the english phrase or band name, or place, or whatever. Lots of laughs.
I said goodbye to the family then, as I would not see them the next day.
Waking a little earlier, I packed and made sure all of my travel plans worked. I was taking the train to Paris early in the afternoon, and then in the evening getting on the night train to Verona. All of the schedules still looked the same, and after heading to the post office to send off requested gifties, I went to Rouen for the final time, headed to the Gare, and bought my ticket.
After a little wait, I got on the train, a non stop to St Lazare, and settled in. I started writing this post then, but didn't get too far as I was too interested in looking out the windows.
In Paris once again, went down into the metro and took line 14 towards the Paris Bercy station. Line 14 is an automated line, and it has very few stops, so the distance was covered quickly.
A bit of a walk put me in the Paris Bercy station. It is where the night trains to Italy, as well as the auto/sleeper trains leave from. I bought my ticket and sat down. By this time it was around 4, and the train did not leave until 8.30, so I went to look for a quieter place to sit than the main lounge.
Going up the stairs, I found a deserted waiting room, and down a long hallway saw another that would have a view of all the tracks going into Gare de Lyon, a very busy station. I got into it, and was surprised to see that all the seats were pushed to the sides, and it looked like it was not really in use.
I sat down anyways, and for nearly an hour sat undisturbed, several employees coming out of a door, looking surprised to see me and walking away. The view of the tracks was very good, and I saw many many TGVs going in and out of the station.
Eventually I got asked to leave, and behind me they locked the doors and put up a no entry sign. Sitting in the deserted lounge for quite a time, I read my book quietly.
Next post will take over from there, and should finally catch up with real time.