Sunday, November 22, 2009, Afternoon

Whereas in Paris there was the occasional right-angled intersection, usually with a plaque commemorating it, in Vichy there are no right-angled intersections at all. Streets do not pass through intersections. They terminate at intersections. A street may seem to emerge from the other side of an intersection, but closer inspection will reveal that it is in reality a new street, with a new name. There is a rule against streets longer than 100 yards long here. And new is, of course, a relative term. Roman chariots rolled down most of these streets.

The French convention is over. I didn't get much out of it. What with my poor listening skills, poor hearing, and the sound system, it was pretty frustrating.

The Gala Dinner took two and one half hours of watching the wait staff scurry around carrying plates for all the courses to and from the tables. There were five courses, with long waits between each. The French all seemed to love it. I wanted to go home and order a pizza. We had, eventually, raw salmon, raw beef with excellent potatoes, cheese, dessert, and coffee. We were continuously supplied with bread and water, to keep us alive between courses. The French do not spend a long time eating, they spend a long time waiting for their food.

There were about 500 people at the convention all told, and all rich.

It is now Sunday afternoon, and time for all self-respecting elders to take their nap. We will plan the future after the nap.

We're probably going to hang on here until Wednesday, then head back North to England where we hope to catch a tanker home.

Travel Plans

There are three trains a day from Vichy to Paris Gare de Lyon. We will take the first, at 11:02 and arrive in Paris at 13:50. We should be able to leave Paris for Calais sometime in the afternoon and arrive there in good time to get a hotel room. Then on Thursday we will cross the Channel on a ferry and travel to Bletchley Park. We can see the park on Friday and travel once more on Saturday back to London Heathrow to catch our bus to Mildenhall.

We go to Heathrow not to fly but to catch the free shuttlebus the Air Force runs daily to and from RAF Mildenhall. Saves a train fare.


The coffee here is all what we call espresso. You drink it straight from the little tube from the espresso machine. You can have a regular one or a long one. The long one is what we would call a "double shot". It's more like medicine than a comfortable way to spend a half an hour. There are no drip coffee makers in France.

I cheated yesterday. I stole the extra hot water Paula got for her pot of tea and poured it into my coffee cup, making a very strong cup of American from a regular cup of French. It was delicious. I know I could have just asked for extra hot water, but it's more like me to sneak it than to come out and ask for it. It's not enough to speak French. You also have to be willing to speak French.