Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Maybe you had to be there...

You know how these stories are – the ones that end with “Well, I guess you had to be there” - we were there but we still don't know the story. It all began on Sunday morning in Dole when I got the bright idea that we should take a walking tour of the “secrets hidden behind the walls of Dole.” After all, we hadn't visited the home of Louis Pasteur, so we should soak up some history somehow, don't you think?

Caroline and David, an Australian couple on the boat tied up ahead of us (photo l to r: Captain Dave, Caroline, David, Mona, John), decided to accompany us on the tour. At 3:30 we – Dave and I, the Aussie couple, and our guests, John and Mona, all trudged uphill toward the meeting place for the 4:00 tour. When we arrived there was quite a group already waiting.

By the time the tour guide arrived at 4:15, the group numbered about twenty-five. We each paid our 5.50E and followed our French (only) speaking guide.

Our first stop was into the grounds of Pasteur 's atelier (workshop) – aha – we were going to get a look into Louis' life after all! And we did – we walked right past the door to his workshop – we know that is what it had been because there was a sign on the door. Apparently at one time the complex had been a monastery, and a school – or maybe it is a school now.

The tour guide was an attractive young French woman who spoke so fast that if she had been a train we would have missed her. Are you getting the picture? We weren't.

We were herded into a section of the building with a stairway that had been enclosed behind a glass wall, there was an ornate metal railing alongside the stairs – there was apparently something very important about the stairs, or the railing. John, having the ability to hear beyond the bounds of language, sorted it all out for us – Pasteur invented the railing! He did this so people would not fall off the staircase; John said this saved many lives! So delighted with this tidbit of insight into the mind of the great Frenchman, David and Caroline, exhausted by the sheer delight of discovery, left to go ponder the process of pasteurization at the nearest bar.

The rest of us, however, persevered and followed the guide through someone's foyer and into a former convent garden. Entranced by a chicken wire statue of a woman with a hat, and an old cat balancing on an ancient wall, and feeling satiated enough with the “secret history” of Dole, we left the tour to attempt to understand the merits of a good Belgian beer. About an hour later, the tour caught up with us as we sat outside the Coco Bango Bar, a local hotspot. The envious look cast our way by the now hoarse tour guide spoke volumes... Sometimes it just doesn't pay to speak the language.

Snail's Pace

Life on the water is supposed to be slower, calmer and more relaxed. Unlike last summer, it has been uneventful so far this year.

Two weeks ago we ventured down the Saone River to Chalons-sur-Saone with stops at Seurre and Gergy.

We sat on the terrace of a cafe and watched the above escargot try to find his way into the kitchen; we fed swans, we saw some interesting houses from the river, and as always, met some interesting people along the way.

When we got back to home base we wandered into the neighborhood bar and had a bottle, or few, of wine. Pictured are, from left to right: Captain Bruce, Captain Dave, Jean-Michelle the owner of the bar, the Mank and the Yank.