Friday, November 29, 2013

No One Can Rise to Saint Mont Michel

We left our tiny flat of 90 square feet and headed out to Rennes at 5:45 a.m. in the cold.  The bus that we were to catch was departing as we crossed the street and we watched it go.  Standing on the side of the road freezing for the next 16 minutes, I reminded myself that this is a vacation!  I can rest in Tallahassee.

Miraculously, we made it back to the Gare Nord in time for the train.  And then off to sleep while we rode to Rennes.

So Caen is the center of The War Memorials and Rennes is the center of industry.  I picked it because I thought it would be lovely to see the region.  I also thought that it would allow us to see more of the life styles.  Rennes is very different that Paris or Caen.  It is a working class environment and has the feel of Baltimore, right before a game of the Orioles.  The City is fast moving but has the feel of people that hang at the line of just making it.  The factories are large and the whole city seems to revolve around where they were built, not unlike the city center of other cities.  It is just different when the feel is newer, and by newer I mean 1950s forward.  For Europe, 1950s is a blip.  I can't tell you I was happy to be in Rennes.  I can tell you that from Rennes, you can take a bus to Mont Saint Michel which I can tell you - you have never seen the likes of before...

Aside from being an island off the shore of Normandy, it is truly unique.  Tide going out adds new meaning as it goes out for miles.  You would not know that it is an island on low tide or even near low tide.  it is surrounded by grey sand and grey water and in winter, grey skies.  Mont Saint Michele sits out in a bay of sorts  and stands alone as a majestic monument to things past.  It will humble you with its steps (over 300) and its steepness.  It will awe you with its chambers and staircases to seemingly nowhere.  The men who lived here were much smaller and the people who waited on them smaller still.

I cannot tell you how glad I am that I did not live here in it's peak.  I cannot imagine the loneliness and isolation that they felt and the cold and the lack of fresh water.  I can only dread the waiting on the King or the Bishop and the total servitude it took to allow their position.  Thanksgiving means never having to have been a serf.

On the up side, Morgan and i truly know what ramparts are.  We also know she likes to walk them and I do not.  So I stand below and take pictures and she goes to the high places and looks beautiful!

Back to our little flat in Rennes, where the only problem is the owner forgot to give us the code to the building.  We stand outside waiting for the post person to open the door, except guess what, she can't so we wait until another person comes down to check his mail.  I now the feeling of "we might be sleeping in the bus station tonight."  The apartment was very cute and considering we were there less than 12 hours, it would have been perfect, if not for the code issue.  Up again at 5:45 a.m. (is this a Morgan Higman thing or what?).  Off to Bordeaux.  If Rennes is the bastion of industry, Bordeaux is the haven of youth and professionalism.

Entering the city is like walking into Portland times two centuries.  There are certain people I can see as Parisians, but there are so many more that I can see as Bordeaux-ins.    The City is old and young, cobblestones and wi fi, cafes and Apple stores.  It has seven musees within walking or biking of Town Center.  There are two colleges on the map.  I am so excited!  Off tomorrow for tour on bikes then Sunday off to a tour of three vineyards.  Sunday night, back to Paris.  But let us not think of that.

For the few who asked what happens after my interview: I will be sent a preference of assignment.  I have several days to accept.  If I do , then all is well.  If I do not, then they write me with offer two or I write them with offer two.  Only three offers are permissible.  So, very structured interview with very structured responses.  We shall see what we shall see, eh?

By the way, we are staying in a "atypical apartment" which is not an apartment but a very old building turned into offices and living environments.  The walls are old stone.

You have to go out a very old four foot door to go to the bathroom and then you share it with the hosts.  the toilet is not in the same room as the sink.  The challenge for me is remembering where I am at three in the morning and not falling or getting lost.  Oh to have had money and opportunity when I was young!

Our hosts are very nice and properly distant.  He is in mergers and acquisitions ( I will talk to Beth later)  and she appears to stay home, though not clear on that.)  And it quite close to city center and all things important.  I am very Thankful that Morgan let met be part of her trip.  And that I had an interview.

Happy and giving Thanks from France!