Let me begin by acknowledging that I probably misspelled the title of this blog. It has been a number of years since I studied French and the spelling of words seems I have slipped my mind. That, and the fact that I followed my years as a French student with three years of studying and a number of trips immersing myself in the Spanish language. You'd think that after so many years of ieducation in two different languages, I would be able to speak in at least one of them! Alas, this is not the case. But, at least I have the jist of things whereas, had I been traveling in Asia or the Middle East, I would be a poor, lost foreigner with absolutely no idea what is going on. Scary!!
So here I am in the beautiful country of France, visiting my bet friend and college roommate (Rachel) for two weeks. Yes that's right - two whole weeks to be together and soak up that place that she currently calls "home". Our first weekend was spent in the German/France border town of Strausborg. What a delightful town! The buildings were colorful, the river wraps itself around the city center, and the cathedral was (naturally) breath-taking. The town has the oldest holiday market so there were decorations everywhere - even places you would not expect. There was quaint wooden market stands throughout the town selling local wines, cheese, meats, jewelry, goods and regional souvenirs. Our favorite stands were those selling vin chaud - hot wine that is a lovely and warming fusion of cider and sangria. For one euro, you buy a souvenir cup that serves as an economical way to prevent many cups being used on refills throughout your time in strausborg. Perhaps we should find such a method in the states to prevent so many styrofoam and red solo cups from only being used once? Just a thought...
In strausborg, we stayed with Julien - a professor for young students in history and geography. Julien was the most excellent host. He made supper for us two nights, went to the bakery in the mornings for fresh breads and pastries, made is coffees, and took us around the city. He imbibed in much wine with us claiming that he drank more wine that weekend than ever before in one weekend - and he's the French one! I believe that his fest experience with Americans was with us and I sure hope that it was worth his efforts and time. He was a wonderful friend and host and definitely won us both over.
I am, at this moment, snuggled up on Rachel's bed having just eaten some lunch. My book is calling out to me so I believe that I will take it to a cafe. So much more fun to read while sipping a boisson chaud (hot beverage??) and people watching. Nothing quite like it. But then again, I saw some nutella crepe stands that might be needing my tasting skills. We shall see where my feet guide me!
First, though, I must express the beauty and power of the cathedrals here. I have been inside cathedrals before but never with the free time and life experience that I have on this trip. Today, I was able to just sit in the Orleans cathedral and soak up te magnificence of such a structure. With the chorale Christmas music playing and the holiday decor, it was that much more breathtaking. One of my favorite books, Pillars of the Earth, did an excellent job in preparing my mind for experiencing cathedrals. The book illustrates the time, man power, talent and precision that goes into constructing a cathedral - especially considering that these were before modern calculators, cranes, and technology for easier and quicker building projects. Just sitting, with no talking, texting, or distractions around, one cannot avoid the pious history and the power of an all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-loving God. What a place to be.
Bon soir...for now!