Sunday, March 28, 2010

Zip your lips like a padlock.

Blois. Blois. Blois. No I have not misspelled Ke$ha lyrics. Before I explain this most recent and most epic fail, let me speak of my first evening in Paris.

We made fondu.

When trying to ask the grocer if he had cheddar (he didn’t) and stick to the recipe, a nice guy from Texas (here working as a chef) pointed us to a better direction, reminding us “it’s fondu, you can thrown whatever you want in it.” It was a quasi-success. We had melted cheese that we spread of bread and ate on Sarah’s balcony.

The only problem was, as the pot of cheese wasn’t sitting in a proper fondu pot in order to sustain the heat, the cheese got chilly as we ate in the breeze. After 15 minutes we had to cut it with a knife and spread it on the bread/apples. A little jank, a lot of entertaining.

Moving on.

The cover of Eyewitness Travel Guide’s Europe book features a picture of Chateau Chambord on the cover (for those of you who aren’t lucky enough to own the page-turner and already know what the cover looks like). Sarah has wanted to see this chateau since getting the book. We decided to do lots of research on the internet and map out a day trip of biking through the Loire Valley, where this and many other wonderfully picturesque chateaus are. promised us a place to rent a bike in a town called Blois and it seemed like a great way to spend a Saturday in France, biking to from Blois (which has a chateau of its own) to 2 other nearby chateaus. Sarah and I miraculously made our 7:25am train without any hiccups. We ambled through Blois towards the tourism office (in order to get a biking map/directions to the nearest bike rental) admiring the lovely town.

(I spent forever getting that second picture to not be blurry.)
It was raining, but we had our backpacks and felt like real college travelers. (And Emerson as we were going to spend a day as one with nature. Don’t snicker CT, I say such completely literally.)


All the bike places were closed/out of business. We were told of a bus that would take us to Chambord alone, and leave us with 5 hours to explore . . . . we said no thanks and sought other alternatives. A few phone calls later, we found a bike place in a nearby town. We ask the men in the ticket office the best way to get there and they told us the bus to take. It’s in 2 hours. We meander more.

We wait at the bus stop for 45 minutes. The bus never shows. We compare maps (all with different or no legends) and find an alternative route to this town/elusive bike shop. It’s close and we should be able to walk. It will be a bit of a hike (like an hour or so) but the sun has finally started to shine. Walking commences. We cross a lovely bridge and get even more lovely views of Blois, which is starting to become irksome.

Walking proves to be taking longer than expected, but bus comes that should take us to where we want to go, so we think. After a 15 minute drive through a genuine French subdivision, we find out, however, that it is a Blois-city bus only when we find ourselves at the center of an industrial park beside a gas station and grocery store. The bus driving, pitying us, takes us back across the river to the train station for free.

More time passes. We eat some lunch too (Our 1.5 litre water bottles purchased for our long day of biking never get opened. In fact, I just opened mine upon getting back to Sarah’s apartment a few minutes ago.) Finally we decide to give it one last shot. We’re just going to take the original bus to Chambord. Small problem: the bus we need leave Blois at 14:36. It arrives in Chambord at 17:01. The last return bus from Chambord to Blois departs at 17:10. 9 minutes of a chateau. At this point, we’re okay with it. We just want to see that it is, in fact, possible to leave the city of Blois because our multiple failed attempts had us seriously considering the possibility of magical spells existing around the city limits. Perhaps the town was founded by people just like us, poor souls who found it impossible to leave so they just built houses.

Bus ride success: here is Chateau Chambord:

We get back to both Blois and then Paris without any problems. Ironically, our train back to the real world was at 19:25, exactly 12 hours after our first train of the morning. Sarah’s internet is down, so this will probably (hopefully) not be posted until tomorrow - she and her roommate think that their neighbors found out they were ciphering their internet, though the network still isn’t locked. My body is sore from the obnoxious amount of walking and map reading & my core being is very sad I didn’t get to ride a bike today. At least tomorrow’s Sunday and there is no 7:25a train to catch.

I now make a pretentious allusion to Wilkie Collins.
Nota Bene: The reader should note that all references to interactions with Blois-ians (???) have been roughly translated or summarized for an easier readership experience due to the fact they occurred in FRENCH. Just saying.

xoxo & au revoir (cheers too),

PS - We’re thinking of attempting to bike to Versailles Monday afternoon to make up for today’s fail . . .

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