Welcome to historic Vichy! (23.9.02)

I arrived, set off on the wrong street, got lost. Pulled out my bulky guidebook (the one with I AM A TOURIST written all over it in bright orange flashing letters), got to the hotel, pulled on the door, and it was locked. Why was it locked at 6:30pm? I tried again. I looked around for a doorbell for a while and thus was just standing outside the hotel when the manager came up to the door and pushed it open. Do you see our little problem there? There's really nothing to say in these situations, in English or in French.

I got my room, went upstairs and unloaded some of my crap, and started exploring, by which I mean getting lost. It was exploring until it started to rain and then it was being lost. I found my way back to the hotel, got my raincoat, and set off again, this time in search of a public telephone and some dinner.

Vichy, you are sorely lacking in three things. One is a cybercafé. Two is pedestrian crossing signals. And three is public telephones. I wandered all over, getting as lost as the last time, but finally found two. I will never be able to find my way back, however.

Then I went in search of dinner. I wanted something more than a sandwich, but that necessitated a horrible event: Dining Alone.

I don't mind dining alone as much in the US. Or I guess I don't, because I don't remember ever doing it. What makes it difficult in France is that a meal is so long (especially if you are an imbecile like moi and order a four-course menu). If you grab a sandwich, you are Girl on the Run, too busy to stop. If you sit down, you can feel the gaze of the other diners, wondering what this girl is doing, eating all alone. Or, in my case, you can hear the other diners. I only caught snippets, but I'm pretty sure the people at the next table were speculating about me.

Despite the loneliness and the stares, dinner was good. I had forgotten how much I liked fromage blanc, a cheese with a taste/texture sort of like cream cheese mixed with sour cream. You add sugar, stir, and enjoy the calcium seeping into your brittle little bones. Or at least I do.

In closing, I leave you with a somewhat altered Monty Python quote: "The town is full of French people... some of whom... are very old."

srah - Thursday, 26 September 2002 - 1:05 PM
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