Friday, January 5, 2024

Bits and pieces

  I am looking at notes taken so I could remember what we did when. It surprised me how hard that is to do. When you are on the move, stopping to note down what happened is hard.

So bear with me, as I recount the happenings as we flew, trained, walked and trudged through France and England. 

Walking off the plane at Charles deGaulle airport, we were surprised to notice snowflakes! Yes, not a super surprise in December, but for us folks from Hawaii, it's a startling sight. Didn't particularly impact us, as we were training off to Lyon for a few days. 

In our Lyon hotel, the bartender, who didn't speak a lot of English, didn't know what a shot glass was! And truthfully, I'm not sure what it is in French, so I wasn't much help. But it did give me a chance to use some French. I got Alex some Aberlour and I snagged a glass of red. It is amazing that red wine is so good in France! Even at the grocery store, one is rarely faced with plonk.

What also still astonishes me is how many really, truly nice people we bumped into. In Lyon airport,  a very nice young woman from Barcelona sat, awaiting a plane, with us. We had a great conversation. Turns out she is a nurse, awaiting her plane calmly. I took great comfort in her attitude. Although the delay lengthened her arrival at home, she was still very calm.

Once we did get into our Lyon hotel, the next day we visited the Basilica. Very beautiful. And a great spot for lunch. Saucisson brioche and a big glass of beer for Alex. 

Our hotel also had a fire alarm test while we were there. Yay. That turned out to be the 1st of 3 we endured. Not complaining. Much better to test than not know what to do in the event of a real emergency. The sad thing is that while we were on the street, we were surrounded by smokers. I still think badly of folks who must push their smoke on others. This is far too prevalent in Europe. We saw smoking in many places and unfortunately, the smokers have to sit outside the restaurants, so if you want to sit outside, this is foisted on you.

I will say the produce is excellent! We had great raspberries and wonderful juicy pears. Yum.

I am surprised to report that we often had breakfast in our hotel. Travel commentators will tell you to go out and about to eat breakfast, but ours was often free and very good. Eggs, wonderful pastries, endless coffee. Wonderful.

And many nice folks helped me with my bag. Alex can only carry so much. One man actually picked up my bag and deposited it on the pavement for me, waving off my thanks.

And in a grocery store, I asked a lady, in French, if she had Poire. She took me to the fruits section! I smilingly told her I was looking for the LIQUOR Poire. We both smiled, as she pointed to a shop down the street that had that beverage.

I almost lost my debit card at the pastry shop PAUL at an airport. Take a word from your cards! I had mistakenly left it in the machine, as the clerk and I were talking during our transaction. Luckily, when I realized it was not in my wallet, I returned to the store. The nice lady had put it in a secure drawer, she knew I'd be back. I will forever be grateful for her kindness and honesty. Shop at Paul!

We also met a nice older gentleman on the funicular. He found out we were from Hawaii, so he tried to discuss Hawaii with me. I found on this trip that there are many areas in which my French is less than stellar: like laundry.

We love shopping at Galeries Lafayette and L'Epicerie. There is nothing they are lacking and it's fun to wander around, even if you aren't buying anything. But it's hard not to. So much great wine, spices, pastas, cookies, pastries. The mind boggles.

There is just something about the French ladies. So Chic. Black everything: hose, boots, dress, jackets, hats. You just know they took care with their appearance.

The merchants at the Christmas markets were often tri-lingual in Colmar: French, English, German. They had to be!

I had the experience of visiting a pharmacie twice during our trip: once for Runner's Toes (where your toes get black and blue from hitting the inside of your shoes..I do not recommend it) and to get anti-vertigo medication. Pharmacy staff is much more like a doctor in France. I was glad of that because I had no doctor! Both people helped me a lot.

We also very often had just 1 chair on our one of us sat on the bed. Disconcerting, but we managed.

I had my first French Avocado toast. Very good. Microgreens, pomegranates, fennel, nice bread, lots of avocado and even bacon with the poached egg.

I have to dig about Strasbourg airport: 4 toilets for a long line of customers!!! Really?! aka Bah Humbug!!

A word of warning: take care that you can use your phone in Europe. I paid for Orange and then discovered my phone was locked and I could make only emergency calls. I am trying to calm down before I contact my cell provider. 

Alex enjoyed his favorite dessert only twice: Creme Brulee. But he found a chocolate bar here in Hawaii that also has that flavor. 

I'll leave you with a bathroom story: waking up in the middle of the night only to find that the toilet paper roll escaped its holder and rolled across the bathroom floor. It required turning on the light to find it again.

More later. Thanks for reading!

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