Monday, 22 June 2015

Hopefully leaving the Americans far behind (Bayeux to Granville)

Buffet Breakfast in the hotel is annoying. And it's not that the food selection is surprisingly skewed towards American tastes. First Bacon and Scrambled Egg I've seen in France!

No, it's something else. Didn't anyone see that Faulty Towers episode "Don't mention the war"?  (If you haven't seen it, click on the link ;-).

Well, war talk is all I hear from around me during breakfast. And it's not 1066-Tapestry-war talk. It's WW II talk.

Others have been looking at web-sites that show some spitting on the American flag and can't stop talking about it.  Wow.

The breakfast room (like the hotel and the entire town) contains various wall hangings (posters, pictures?) depicting the tourist attractions of Bayeux.  Yes, many of these include American flags, but there is one depicting a section of THE tapestry. And it happens to be right next to the table of the two American ladies that have been watching flag spittings.  One of them points at it and says, and I kid you not "Some kind of weaving thing".

"some kind of weaving thing"

When I finally write this post on July 3rd and look for a suitable tapestry image on Google to highlight the American woman, I realize with HORROR that the whole wanting to get out of Americanized  Bayeux made me skip the actual tapestry.  Now I have to GO BACK and deal with the Americans all over again!

Another thing one learns quickly in France:  You greet people on the street or where ever in French "Bon jour, Madame/Monsieur" quickly becomes second nature, even though Germans sometimes overdo it.  So when I come back from a morning walk and the person smoking in front of the hotel door, who I have never see before, loudly exclaims "Good Mornin' ", I just know that I NEED to get OUT of here.

I check out at 10:45 and ride through the light drizzle go to the train station to buy my ticket.  Bayeux to Coutances and from there to Granville.  I but the ticket at the counter and when I have walked back to the bike, the counter lady calls “pas de velo sur l’autobus”.  Seems some kind soul has discontinued regular rail service between Coutances and Granville and is running a bus now. A bus that doesn't take bikes ;-(  She happily exchanges my ticket, refunds some of the old ticket price,  and gives me a big smile.

NOT travelling light. More suitcases than people.

The train brings me to Coutances, a town of 9500 people. Like many tiny to small towns, Coutances has a cathedral, which according to Wikipedia is one of the major buildings of Norman architecture.  In a village of 10,000!  Strange.

There is a Freeway going to Granville, but neither am I allowed on it nor do I want to ride there. So after I choose a different route, I really have no idea any more where I am and the signs don’t really mention Granville (They either point to the next village that's 40 meters away or to the next BIG place that's 300 kms away), so I just assume the wind comes from the West and head slightly more left to get a South-West bearing.
The reward of not riding on a freeway ;-)

The mother of all poppies along the roadside
I decide to stop at a restaurant I see.  It can't hurt to charge the battery. In addition, if I don't eat now, I won't get anything until 6 or 7 !

As is common with these rural roadside eateries, it is packed between 12 and 2. The smiling owneress puts me at a table with a ‘trucker-type’ that doesn't say a word.  I eat buffet. Only when I stumble in French and English to explain that I thought the buffet was everything and I didn't know that there is a main course coming after and what are the choices, does he ask me in French “You don’t speak French?” (Think about that question for a second)
Can you read?
Are you blind?
would be equivalent questions ;-)

But then that’s my own bloody fault. Whenever I don’t understand what someone rants down rapidly, I say “Je ne parle pas de Francais”. And apparently I’m getting quite good at pronouncing it because people get a very confused look on their faces ;-)

Anyhoo, the ice seems melted and he asks me where I come from today “Cherbourg? Bateau?” and in general “Anglais?” and I answer as best as I can.
I order my usual ‘quart de rose’ but what I get seems more like ¾ of a bottle than ¼.
The lunch after buffet consists of chicken (in cream sauce) with spaghetti (in butter).
After that they bring a cheese plate
And then dessert
All for 11 Euro 50.
And it’s all good. I might as well eat while my battery recharges. Then I can hit the Turbo button to get me through the final kms to Granville through the rain I can now see through the window ;-)

The young waiter is the next in a long line to ask me where I come from. Allemand, Canadien, I have to answer.  Then he asks me whether I speak Dutch. To which I reply “Seulement Allemand, Anglais et un petit peux de Francais”, and I actually blush when he blatantly lies in saying that I speak good French ;-)

I get the bill and I can't believe it.  The bottle of wine was included in the 11 Euros 50. 
 "Est impossible pour moi a retourner a Canada", I force my thought into French and thank them profusely.
Not my picture

At the time I didn't take pictures of the restaurant and I didn't know exactly where I was, but using Google Maps I sherlocked  this was the A La Sienne Sarl restaurant close to Hyenville.  

Then it's 22 kms in heavy wind and pouring rain.  There is literally not a single dry thread in my clothing or hair on my body when I reach Granville.  Yes, I should have taken rain gear along ;-) When I enter the hotel, there is an elderly lady at the reception trying to convince the receptionist that No, there must be a room for me tomorrow. You can't be full.  I'm just rolling my eyes and dripping on the floor while exchanging occasional glances with the receptionist who by the nature of her job is forbidden from rolling her eyes. The same happened two years ago. You had a room for me then!  Something about the lady's English pronunciation marks her as being from a country different than England. The utter stubbornness also goes along with that guess.  
Also dripping wet. Sadly I didn't look that good ;-(
Puddles are forming on the immaculate marble floor around me feet.  "What am I supposed to do?  I could go to Saint Malo, but I don't like that", the lady keeps whining.  That's it  "Pardon me, would you mind terribly mind if I interrupted your scheduling to get into my room? I am drenched and would love to take a shower", I inject into a conversation pause.   
"Oh No, what's the problem?" she says.  GOT YOU, I was right about your nationality I muse.  Of course, when I have to spell my last name to the receptionist, she has to comment "You are German!  So am I !!!'  
Congratulations, that's 100 rubber points for you lady!

I get my room, drop my wet clothes, take a shower, dress, and go out for a smoke. She's still in the reception trying to have the receptionist turn off gravity ;-)

The rain tries to stop, but continues as a drizzle for a few more hours.  What is worse is the ferocious wind that keeps me away from the waterfront.

There IS some blurring in the wind generator.  Seen with the bare eye, it looked like 

Many French coastal towns have swimming pools on the beach that get filled by sea water at high tide.

Strange dinner

12,500 inhabitants NEED a cathedral

Evening: The rain has stopped and the sun is trying to push through

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