Demystification Guru

Just because we don't understand something, doesn't mean it isn't understandable.

My Photo
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

France 2008 - Arles, May 21, our anniversary

Today is our 26th anniversary. We were supposed to go on our "big trip to Europe" for our 25th but this will do, now that we are here. It's a Wednesday and our map says there is another market on Wednesdays, only on a different section of the big ring road boulevard. We had already walked down that section, looking at the ancient walls of the city from the outside.
France 2008
We had also come upon one of the cemeteries of the city and spent quite a while there, quietly walking around the many above-ground mausoleums. Some graves were obviously visited frequently but others had had no one come by in years. I have not been to New Orleans but it reminded me of that cemetery style, with everything in crypts.
France 2008
This time, we decided to go straight to the market and get our breakfast there and much to our dismay, we found out this was a junk-only market with no food at all. By the time we discovered this, we were tired, cranky, and caffeine deprived so we walked back into the Old Arles and found a small "tabac" that sold cafe and croque monsieurs. I remembered croque monsieurs from my days in Belgium back on the 70s and they are still bread with some cheese and maybe something else on them. Not too exciting but better than no food.

We decided to do laundry, in spite of it being our anniversary. We had found a coin operated laundromat (laverie automatique) the previous week and had determined that we would do two laundries while we were in Arles, timing the second one so that we would have enough fresh clothes to get us through Paris and home again. This was Wednesday and our travel day to Paris was Friday so we figured it would be a good time. There really weren't enough shirts and underwear and socks to justify a full load but when you travel light, you do laundry when you can.

We got back to the laundry, after our late and unsuccessful breakfast and no one was there yet. You put your clothes in the chosen washer (a front loading machine) and then go buy the soap by hitting certain buttons on a wall mounted machine and then putting in the money it told you (30 cents). Then you choose your machine on the same gizmo and put that money in (3 Euros). Then you set your watch and go have a coffee or something in the Place Voltaire, which was very close by. By the time the laundry was done and we'd taken it back to the hotel to hang and fold, it was lunch time.

We had rediscovered where the fabric store was that I had seen on the first day we got to Arles and looked around. It was just off the Place Voltaire, heading away from the Arena and toward the old walls. After lunch (at which I fed the black Lab again), I left Peter in the Place having a glass of wine and I headed over to the fabric store where I took my time and bought 16 metres of fabric of different patterns - 2 of this, 4 of that. The woman cutting the fabric was very nice but she didn't speak any English so our conversation was a little limited. As she finished cutting the last few metres, I started looking around for a sign by the cash that said "Visa" and had a sinking feeling when I saw no such sign. I asked her if she took Visa and she looked at me surprised and said "of course not".

So I told her I would be right back with cash. She actually looked like she believed me - she didn't look worried. But I would have been worried if I were her, cutting all that fabric and then not being prepared to take plastic from an obvious tourist. Yikes. I literally ran back to the Place and found Peter chatting with some Americans. I gasped out that I needed 142 Euros and fast! He actually had the cash on him, so we didn't need to go to an instant teller.
Provencal fabrics
I ran back to the store and paid for my purchase. I was relieved that she acted as if this was normal but I was amazed at the same time. I toted my fabric back to the Place and sat while Peter introduced me to what appeared to be a mother and daughter from the States. They were good friends, as the older woman's now late husband had taught the younger woman in high school. The younger woman was a chef and she was taking a working holiday by teaching cooking at a B&B in Arles for a few months and so the older woman was staying there too. They were very pleasant, tres gentil.

We stay for a while in the Place and then make our way back to the hotel to drop off the fabric and change for dinner. We decide to go back to La Gueule du Loup for a second meal, as the first one had been so wonderful. We discover the menu is the same so we order something different and enjoy it just as much. One of our desserts had lavender flavoured ice cream in it, something we had never had before. We toast ourselves - to another year.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home