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O Fim duma Viagem

Cows and farms: what every Midwestern girl spending a semester in Paris wants to see

FRANCE | Friday, 2 October 2015 | Views [323]

In a shocking move, Sunday began with us getting into the bus and driving for at least an hour. This brought us to Périguex, a small town with a beautiful cathedral.

Cathedral

While we were there, the town was also in the middle of Péri’meuh, (“meuh” is the French word for the sound a cow makes) a farming festival. So there were a lot of animals around. A lot of people seemed to like the horses, or have an odd fascination with the piglets nursing. They were all wrong, sincethe sheep were definitely the best animals there.

Sheep

It didn’t take me terribly long to get bored or to find a group of like-minded people. So Joe, Maria Jose, Nicolas, Aime, and I set off to basically repeat yesterday’s exploration: wander along the river and through the side streets. (Interestingly enough, of that group, Joe and I were the only people who had not grown up speaking Spanish, and Joe had studied it all through high school.)

The town was really pretty, and, despite wandering aimlessly, we still managed to find several interesting things. Like, a river.

River

Or a market, which was kind of pointless because the next thing we were going to do was go eat lunch. Same thing applied when we doubled back and found the “dead and cooked” part of Péri’meuh. There was someone handing out free popcorn, though, so Maria Jose and I both waited for them to make more and give us a bag, then shared with the others.

Nicolas: “It’s interesting. It tastes kind of sweet, but not like kettle corn.”

Me: “That’s because they took regular popcorn and added sugar to it.”

Nicolas stopped eating to glare at me. “That sounds like something they’d do in the Midwest.”

Me: “It wasn’t my idea! That’s what they were doing to all the popcorn.”

Nicolas: “Yes, but it sounds like something your people would come up with.”

Despite his general disapproval, he did continue eating the popcorn.

Our wandering through crowded markets and quiet back alleys came to an end around 12:30, when we went back to the bus to drive to lunch. Lunch was at Le Jardin Pêcheur, one of few  restaurants that can claim a social mission. Around 80% of the employees are handicapped, and part of the purpose of the restaurant is to provide work that fits the capabilities and interests of their employees. Plus, the food is pretty good.

Lunch came in three courses and two kinds of alcohol. An aperitif of kire, and a main course red wine. The wine, water, and bread were refilled fairly quickly after running out, though this did not help us if we passed the bread down the table and then didn’t get it back. The first course was a choice of foie gras or shrimp. I went with the shrimp, which was a very good choice. The sauce was especially delicious, and made me grateful for the extra bread to soak it up with. The main course was a choice between duck or chicken. Again, I went with the duck, and again, it wasn’t tender enough. Then dessert was pineapple tirimasu or chocolate moelleux. Having had chocolate moelleux before, I was not surprised when it had a molten chocolate center, but I was still delighted by it. In this case, the center was almost caramelly, and it was wonderful when it was still hot. And finally, they brought out coffee and meringues.

Once we were done with the meal, we went to sit out on the grass. For what, according to the schedule, should have been under half an hour, but turned out to be nearly twice as long. But it was a nice day, and neither Stephanie nor Erin seemed worried, so…

And indeed, despite the hour ride to the train station, there wasn’t any problem about us being late for the train. The train being late for us, on the other hand… we got on at about the right time, and then heard the announcement that the train did not have a conductor, so it would be an hour delay.

Katya: Well, Andrew, we just missed our train back to Lyon.

Erin was trying to get their tickets rearranged for the next morning when another announcement came in that the train would be leaving in fifteen minutes. And, fifteen minutes later, with a mechanic in lieu of a conductor, off we went.

The train ride was fine, though mostly it was happening at night, so there wasn’t even scenery to admire. I tried to work, talked a bit with people, and appreciated not needing to run to catch another two-hour train just to be back to my apartment.

It was about 21:00 when I finally made it back. I unpacked, played the harp, and enjoyed the complete and real solitude of my apartment.

Breakdown of the weekend:

62 hours from leaving my apartment to returning to it.

***

3 hours of tours

4 hours of canoeing

6 hours of chilling at the hotel

7 hours of planned meals

9 hours of wandering around towns in small groups

15 hours of sleep

16 hours in trains and busses

and 2 hours to miscellaneous activities. Note that all of these time estimates are very rough

It’s not the kind of weekend I would have planned for myself, but it was nice enough anyway.

Tags: animals, bus, popcorn, train, transportation

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