Get up and make sure everything is charged and packed for train travel. Clean myself up and walk to a different brasserie called Brasserie Izem and get two good looking items: paris-brest and tarte à la rhubarbe (et poire). May as well indulge for this last morning.
Having eaten those I will now make my way to Gare Austerlitz to get the train to Orléans.
Getting to the train station was nothing but a half hour slog, carrying all that poundage of nonsense that represents a lived life. Or at least a life lived by some sucker who insists on carrying three glass lenses along the journey.
The train station was, as usual, confusing. The first ticket machine I tried didn’t like any of the cards I offered it. I went to a different machine, finally buying the ticket for the train which way back when was seven minutes away. Then I turned to realize there was no signage and about where platforms were or how to ready the fucking ticket. Time is not your friend.
I find the first person to ask and picked a person who was likely deaf. He wasn’t able to speak but those subtle vocalizations of one who can’t hear them, so using a variety of gestures and a lot of pointing he walked me through using the data on the ticket and a reader-board to figure out which platform. Great. Fantastic.
Neither of us knew where platform five would be. But this guy, quickly becoming one of my favorite people ever, continued to drive me along as we sought out platform five. Rolling around one last corner, my new friend very excited as we neared the truth of this miniature destination, there was a gate agent closing a gate but asking if I was after this train. I asked if it was for Orleans and yes and hustled through the gate and down the platform to the first available entrance to the train. Feeling like OJ, obviously.
Onto that last car in the train and, selecting the last berth, joined the sole person working on his laptop in a birth built for six. Now I can relax for an hour. But I still pulled out Google Maps to follow the journey.
The train rolls through the countryside, passing farmland and industry and windmills and a lot of terracotta tiles. I alternate between reading and snapping random pictures of nothing in particular. Looks like the train must average about 80mph (it’s about an 80 mile trip which takes about an hour).
Orleans is the last top for this line. I exit the train and make my way toward Flo’s address. That’s another half hour slog. Is everything in France a half hour apart? I sit on my bag out in front of 11 blahblahblah and text Flo via Fb “I’m on the sidewalk”. She responds “which one?”. The one in front of 11 blahblahblah. “Didn’t you get my message? I moved to 1 blahblahblah.” Oh. So that’s a fifteen minute slog. I guess not everything is half an hour apart.
Finally I see here name on a buzzer and she buzzes me in and calls out from above. I make the vertical slog and we baissou and make our greetings. She quickly tells me everything I need to remember but will forget for the next several days. I will meet her new husband at dinner and he speaks no English. The kids, the plans, all that. Yes, yes, I understand. More stairs to get to the top floor where I will stay. Three windows, interesting views, and what can only be described as palatial accommodations where I have a full bed and a private bathroom with shower. I have a kitchen. Will I use a kitchen? Probably not. But I have one now! I’m sitting at a four-top tall-stooled table writing this now, watching the pigeons out the window on the neighboring rooftops strutting with blissful attitude. The world is their toilet.
And now I have had my first real shower since leaving Seattle. Some lady and I could dance in this shower. I feel good. I may take a bit of a walk before Flo finishes working, take some pics or just wander. Maybe a bit of both. She’ll finish at 18:00 and there is an appointment with a remodeler at 19:00. I must return between that time so we can go together. I think this means I’ll see a remodel in progress here. Cool.
It is now the next morning and I will recount the remainder of the day.
I made another photographic walk and eventually made my way back here to meet Flo. We talked until 19:00 and then descended to the street to await her husband. He was late and ran up with the parking pass.
The area is surrounded by retractable posts in the street where you scan a pass and the post lowers. We scanned the pass to allow the person buying a piece of furniture to enter, but the post didn’t lower. Not understanding how the system worked, I watched the driver then drive into and move the post out of alignment and the whole system was fucked.
R arrived to see the scene and kicked the post back into alignment, but the system insisted all was fucked. So the driver went off to park elsewhere. As we were talking the post magically lowered itself! Eventually the system sorted itself.
So we sought out the new set of apartments Flo has purchased. There are three floors (not the ground floor) consisting of one apartment each. The first floor is a one bedroom, the second floor has the same footprint but the living room and bedroom are combined for a large studio, and the third has a roof deck within that same footprint (I think also a studio). We only looked at the first floor (the piano nobile) since that was the only currently unoccupied. It needs a lot of work.
Anyway this person bought a set of drawers (after assisting R in removing a large particle board shelf from a wall) and R helped him take this back to his car (wherever that ended up). When the second person arrived intending to buy a table like for a living room but was also tempted by the shower door and the medicine cabinet. In the end, just the table. So close!
We returned to chez F&R for dinner. We had a dish of green lentils and pork. Since Flo doesn’t eat pork she didn’t eat any of the pork from the lentils, instead eating some different pork which was apparently less porky. The pig is a great and mysterious animal.
Of course there was wine, a couple different bottles (and one bottle which R opened but insisted was vinagre though we all agreed it would still be good for cooking) and cheese (probably a Camembert and some emmentaler).
There was a moment of panic because there was no bread. R was inspired and ran to the kitchen. I told flow about my loaf of travel bread (don’t judge me) which was excellent if a little squished. She suggested we wait until R had made his attempt first. He did manage to return with a number of points of toast, presumably from some secret French bread stash.
We talked until Flo wanted to sleep and I climbed the stairs again.
I cannot get the Internet working here. The name listed on the wi-fi device never appears on the list of available networks, neither for my phone or my lappy, so I can’t connect. I’ve even tried using the reset button. No love. So all this is being typed into my text editor and will be posted… sometime?
Like the next day in fact. In the afternoon.