With rarely enough time to sleep sufficiently, keeping up with writing the blog has been near impossible, so although we are now in Bruges, Belgium, on our way to Amsterdam, the next few posts will be catch up on the last week. I am entering them under the date we were there just to keep track.
We found ourselves, both of us, completely blank the other day as we tried to recollect Strasbourg, which is where we last left off. The first thing that came back, finally, was our hotel room - on the hits and misses list, it was a miss, but it was cheap and no false advertising, so we weren't expecting much, and had a few good laughs out of the unique features. These included picture frames on the wall, which were literally just that: two frames, one yellow and one blue that were mounted side by side above the bed, but had never had a picture inserted - they were displayed, just as bought out of the store, with the paper insert providing the dimensions! We also were pleased to find ourselves with an "automatic" opening freezer door - which swung open without assistance immediately upon opening the refrigerator. In a place like this one shouldn't expect luxuries such as soap, but it's the first place I've ever encountered where the only toilet paper provided was already at the end of the roll - fortunately, we had come prepared with our own. For the train buff in us, we could enjoy close up views, not to mention acoustics, of trains whizzing by our window. Enough said. By and large we've been more than lucky with our accommodations, and if sufficed for the one night we were there.
If Strasbourg was briefly forgotten it was only because we have passed through so many places in such a short period of time. The town itself was lovely, particularly the small section known as Petite France which is encapsulated amongst canals and labyrinths of winding streets. Once occupied by tanners, the houses lean askew literally over the streets, their sloping roof-tops designed for drying animal skins upon the surfaces. One could easily wander in one's thoughts there, erasing signs of modern civilisation and envisioning life in a bygone era.
It was again a quick overnight visit, and then we were off to the Champagne area. Another overnighter in a nice B&B which we were fortunate (and this time after some searching and worry) to get, again, due to a no-show. In the small champagne houses we stuck to tastings were free and served in full glasses, which we were soon requesting to share to keep sober. We visited, with our limited time, only a couple, one of which (Theirry Rodez, in Ambonnay) provided a wonderful tour after which we sat with Thierry and his wife and listened in on stories that were both insightful and funny, and really personalized the experience. The villages, however, were surprisingly drab and austere for the most part, and landscape rather uninteresting, particularly after the picture book villages and undulating terrain of the Alsace.
Now as I sit here with curlers in my hair, and the cleaning lady arriving in half an hour, and Amsterdam waiting, must fly!
Next excerpt: Paris