Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Nov 12 2014

Paris, etc, part 3

It was raining when we stepped outside the hotel this morning in Rennes. Raining and cold and windy. After another breakfast at the station, we boarded a train bound for Dinan, a small historic town some miles away. Then we found a couple of French guys in our seats. They insisted that the car was car 7, despite the fact that all the signage of the car said it was car 8. We gave up trying to convince them otherwise and went to sit in the VIP section. We then switched to an older local train, where Carlos engaged an 80-year-old woman in conversation. She wanted to know all our names, and see pictures of any children anyone had managed to have.

At Dinan, we found the streets empty. Wandering downtown, we discovered that today is a semi-official holiday honoring veterans and those killed in various wars. Chenbl joined a throng of veterans heading into an official-looking building, so we went in as well. We ended up in a grand room full of people with multiple medals pinned to their chests. Someone is going to break into speeches or song any moment, I thought to myself, and we won’t be able to follow along. So we made our escape undetected.

We walked into the old town, inside the old city walls, which were apparently saved and maintained by private citizenry who bought them from the government. As I was walking up to a cathedral, someone stepped out of a bakery and threw a piece of bread in my general direction. It landed in the churchyard. Is this some kind of local tradition? I have no idea.

The cathedral was so quiet and echo-ey that every little sound carried. Chenbl sang a Chinese song, every note echoing like a choir. It was impressive.

We continued through the old town and then down a street known throughout the ages as “The steep street paved with slippery-as-hell stones”. I only slipped once, but I could have pretty much skied all the way down if my knees were up for it. At the bottom was a pretty little scene involving bridges and a river. We had some snacks and started up again, ending up at the town’s more famous cathedral. Medieval choir music was playing inside, and the interior was much more elaborate. Next door was an old-folks home.

The afternoon was getting on, so we made our way back to the train station, wary of missing another connection. The station lobby featured some ancient looking maps and local vagrants. Since we were there early I decided to take another stroll around town on my own.

The train back to Rennes was packed, but at least the people in our seats were gracious enough to evacuate them this time.  We put some stuff away at the hotel, and then walked into town in search of something to eat. We rounded a corner to find a full-fledged concert/ceremony in celebration of the veterans in progress in a large square. After that we walked around some more, and had shwarma for dinner. When we asked where the restaurant’s owners were from, they just shrugged. Then a young man told them in Russian that he could translate. “I didn’t know you could speak Russian!” I said, stupidly, in Russian. It turns out the man was from Turkey, and his wife Russian, if indeed she is his wife.

It had been raining all day, and I’d managed to break not only my umbrella but Chenbl’s as well, so it was time to turn in.

posted by Poagao at 4:35 am  

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