dimecres, d’agost 10, 2005

Rainbow Tour 2005 Travel Log - Day 10 - Saturday 7.16.05

The last day in Brittany...

In the morning I went downstairs and had my last breakfast at the Ibis. Incidentally, over the past few mornings the encargado for breakfast has been this lovely little piece of all right with olive skin, brown eyes and dark brown hair and 19 if he was a day. To the staff at the hotel of course I speak French, and I was really amused when he asked me where I was from at this last morning. I told him he had to guess, and he said he thought the north or Belgium. He was really shocked when I told him New York. After all these years, more than 20 now of studying and speaking French, I can blend into the background, a reality to which there are many benefits because people will say things about America in your presence if they think you're French that they might not say if they know you're an American. Not that I mind what they have to say; generally I agree with them anyway.

After breakfast I went to a Breton store on le 14 Juillet, but it didn't open till 10. I decided then to go across the street to a little café-bar and have a nice cup of coffee and wait. By the time I was finishing my drink, the store clerk had arrived and put out the mat. I went across the street and inquired about Gwenroc, a lovely Breton whisky with a sort of slight cinnamony flavor. The clerk told me that they last bottle she had was in the window. I told her I would take it, and she then wrapped it up in bubble tape so that it could make the long journey home safely.

I returned to the hotel and finished packing, and around noon checked out and left my backs at the front desk. My train to Germany didn't leave till 5PM, so I had the afternoon to wander around Renne one last time and take some pictures. I rode the metro up to Place St. Anne in the old city, and emerged to see a used book flea market on the square. It was probably a providential moment, as while I was walking by one table a book by Michel Tremblay caught my eye. I had read and studied some of Tremblay's work when I was at Binghamton, and even translated a number of his short stories for my translation class. I was most interested in his work on Émile Nelligan, the Victorian Montréalais homosexual poet who languished away much of his life in what amounted to be a sanitarium.

The book for sale was called Le coeur découvert and after reading the back cover, I decided I would buy it, and at 4€, it was definitely worth while. It relates the story of 39 year old French teacher at a Cégep in Montréal who falls in love with a man 14 years younger than he. Given current context of my own life, I thought it might be a very interesting read for me. I tucked the book into my back pack and continued my walk through the old city, takin snaps of old buildings that caught my eye. Eventually I ended up on the Place du Parlement and noticed an Irish pub, O'Connells, and stopped in there for a pint of Beamish. The weather today was much more pleasant, sunny, but only in the mid-70's and less humid. After my pint I was ready for a late lunch and went back to the restaurants behind the station and chose the Blue Marine, and enjoyed a lovely filet mignon de porc, al fresco, as indeed had every meal out had been over the week. It was getting close to 4 so I went back to the hotel, collected my things and went next door to wait for my train.

I was taking the TGV fron Rennes to Paris, and then from Paris to Hamburg a Nachtzug, Night Train. I had tried several other options for getting from portal to portal, but all the other options were really too expensive. I had purchased my tickets some days before, waiting too long in stifling heat, but for a small supplement I upgraded to first class, and was looking forward to the "Orient Express" treatment. The TGV left promptly at the appointed hour - the trains in France are notoriously timely - and in no time at all I was at the Gare de Montparnasse. En route, I read nearly half the Tremblay novel, finding the whole story far to riveting and pertinent. I took a cab from Montparnasse to the Gare du Nord since I didn't feel like schlepping my bags across the metro. On the way I got the see the neighborhood where I have staid many times in Paris, including the little Italian Trattoria where I dined with Nathalie and Adam a couple years ago. I also caught glimpses of the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame de Paris.

From the Gare du Nord it was a ten hour overnight right on the pokey Deutsche Bahn Nachtzug, where first class turned out to mean you only had to share your compartiment with one other person (in stead of five!!), altho the French-Algerian nurse, whom I encountered as I entered the compartment, and I did end up with a young Gambian man as well, and sadly apparently Gambians haven't embraced Right-Guard. Fortunately or unfortunatetly depending on how you look at it, he spent most of the night talking to other 20-something foreign nationals whose only common language was something ressembling English, and the lot of them talked about all manner of things, including religion and sex, oy vey.

The nurse and I did our best to sleep in our uncomfortable couchettes that were small, hard as rocks and cramped. I slept very little, but did catch a few winks, disturbed even so in the wee hours of the morning, somehwere near the Niedersachsen border by the voice of the Gambian having since wandered to another compartiment saying, "Oh that's niiiiicce!" From the tenor of his voice I assume that one of the Polish girls he'd been kabitzing with earlier was showing a little ta-ta or else sizing up his African bologna. Either way, after a restless night, it wasn't exactly the icing on the cake...