We left Paris at lunchtime, taking a train north to Amiens. While we had been to Amiens before, the main purpose was to attend the ANZAC Day dawn service at the Australian war memorial at Villers Bretonneux (about 20 mins drive out of Amiens). The trip was uneventful other than the antics of a fellow traveler waiting for a train at Gare du Nord train station. I thought initially he was laughing at something funny on his iPad, but the muttering and inane laughing continued even when he put the iPad away in his bag. Clearly there was some voice conversing with him and telling some ripper jokes. Jane was upset with me as I was frequently glancing in his direction.... well after all you have to admit that there is something intriguing about observing strange behaviours in public places (or is that just me)? Jane said that I should have known better than to make eye contact with him, particularly if I didn't want to escalate the situation. But all wanted to know was why wasnt he sharing those obviously funny jokes with the rest of us?
In Amiens we stayed in a Gite (a form of French B&B) just over 3 klm's out of the centre of town. It was a really nice place with the rooms recently converted from old stables. The place dated back to the mid 1800's. We were told by the owner Richard that there was another Australian couple, arriving later. When we met Una and Court, to my surprise they were both from Tasmania ... and even more surprising I actually knew them.... or at least I knew Una. We spent a couple of pleasant evenings sharing a couple of bottles of Chateau du Supermarché avec baguette et fromage.
I had originally hoped to book a place in the middle of town as the shuttle bus to the ANZAC Dawn service was to leave from there at around 4 am. I found out all central accommodation had been booked out middle of last year... most likely by tour operators. Being unfamiliar with the public transport and a little nervous about a taxi arriving (or not arriving) at 3.30 in the morning to transport us to the shuttle bus, I decided to hire a car for 24 hrs. While this afforded us some freedom, I had to explain to Avis later why there were teeth marks in the passenger side dashboard. Driving on the right hand side of the road on French streets with French drivers made Jane extremely nervous. My advice to her was to either keep her eyes closed or keep them on the GPS. She did neither, preferring instead to yell out words like "watch out" or "you're too close to the parked cars" and other words I can't repeat on an open blog. One of the faults listed on the status report for the hire car was (written in English) " cigarette lighter missing". Thinking at the time that as I wasn't a smoker I could possibly do without the lighter.... This would unfortunately come back and bite me later.
After eventually finding a car park that wasn't too expensive or too far away from the centre of town, we spent a leisurely day looking through the Cathedral and the Musée Picardie. The Cathedral is particularly impressive and claims to be the largest in Europe. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed some lunch in a nice outside cafe.
Now back to that "missing" cigarette lighter. I noted when I plugged the GPS into the socket that despite the status report, there was in fact a lighter insitu. Thinking it may have been replaced, I thought nothing more of it. Some hours later when my GPS suddenly went completely flat, I realised that "missing" in French converted back to English actually means broken or completely stuffed .... silly me! With no way to recharge the GPS (at least not until we got back to our accommodation), we were severely compromised. All we had to navigate home was a tourist map that didn't have all the street names and didn't extend much past the CBD of Amiens. With a bit of luck, a road sign or two and a lot of circle work, we got ourselves to an area where we at least recognised a few land marks and so managed to get back to our accommodation. I spend to evening getting a list together of suitable French words so that I could explain my displeasure to the Officier de Service Cusomer at Avis. With his small amount of English and my gesturing I got him to understand the significance of not having a functional cigarette lighter socket in cars that are rented to foreigners who rely on devices like GPS to avoid getting lost. To my annoyance he shrugged his shoulders , smiled and said "Ooh La la"... Which loosely translated I think means *#&@* happens!