Sunday, August 31, 2014

Of Nutella Waffles, Joie de Vivre, and Other Things

We made a new friend today.

This young man, in case you couldn’t tell, was enjoying a waffle smothered with Nutella when we met him at the Parc de la Pépinière in Nancy, where we’re staying tonight.  Nancy is the capital of the Lorraine region of France (so named because they knew Loraine would be staying here), and it’s a place where, believe it or not, we saw the first real sunshine since we arrived here last Wednesday.  And now it’s supposed to be sunny and in the mid 70s to around 80 the rest of the time we’re here.

Ah, you gotta love it.

We left Belgium and tooled around Luxembourg for a while today, where we came across an interesting situation.  Luxembourg has the lowest gas prices of any country around here.  In fact, their gas is 20 cents a liter cheaper than it is in Belgium.  When we left Bastogne we noticed there wasn’t a gas station in sight, and you know why?  20 kilometers later, when we crossed the border into Luxembourg, there are six gas stations right across the border.  Belgians will drive 20 kilometers to save 20 cents a liter.

Of course, when your car may hold 50 liters, that’s (and I’m doing math here, so bear with me) 10 Euros you’ll save by filling up across the border.  And it’s a good thing you’re saving those 10 Euros, because right next to the six gas stations is a huge outlet mall.

I guess Luxembourger business owners know all about synergy!!

Then as we left Luxembourg to head into France we ran into a detour.  This was probably, oh, the 60th detour we’ve hit since getting here, but I have to admit this one was unique.  It’s the only time we’ve ever been detoured down a side street, and then through a parking lot to get to where we needed to go.  And that wasn’t the strangest thing we saw on the detour.  Nope; that would be the guy riding a bike while wearing a sports coat and boxer shorts.

Guess you don’t see that every day.

We wanted to make one stop before we arrived here in Nancy, and that was to visit Pont-a-Mousson, France.  Why, you ask?  Well, I answer, because a French missionary once studied there a long time ago, and he’s a French missionary the locals hold in high regard.   Who was he?

There is also a Lycee Marquette in Pont-a-Mousson, which is a basically a middle school named after Jacques Marquette.  In front of the school is a statute of our city’s namesake; unfortunately, the school is in the process of being renovated and we couldn’t sneak in to take a picture of it.  Hopefully, the city’s tourist office can take a picture of it for me.  After all, I’d trade them one of the statue on the rocks at Lakeside Park!

Once we made it into Nancy and actually found our hotel (without GPS, mind you) we checked out the two big attractions in this city.  The first is the Place Stanislas, which is basically the very big town square.  It’s ringed with statues accented with some rather impressive gates—

Plus, for today only, the square also featured Miss Lorraine 2014, posing with tourists.

No, I’m not quite sure why Miss Lorraine 2014 was posing with tourists.  Maybe contestants in Miss France do grip & grins in place of answering a question about world peace.  But go Miss Lorraine 2014.  Hope you win!!

The Place Stanislas, while a UNESCO World Heritage site, was nothing compared to the Parc de la Pépinière, at least for us.  The Parc is much like the English Garten in Munich or, I guess, Central Park in NYC.  There are biking and hiking trails, a statue by Rodin, and a zoo.  The goat says hi, by the way—

But perhaps the best part of the Parc was the rose garden, where we met the young man enjoying his Nutella-covered waffle.  There must’ve been a dozen different types of roses, all planted around a fountain area.  Here’s one of the blooms that smelled the best—

The Rose Garden was so impressive that Loraine and I continued our European trip tradition of having an Italian dinner date night.  This time, we got takeout from a restaurant right outside the park, and brought it back in to eat on one of the benches at the Garden.  We had pasta with three cheeses—Gorgonzola, Mascarpone, and Parmesan Reggiano. Oh, and the guy behind the counter, who was practicing his English on us once he realized we were Americans, threw extra Parmesan on top.

Let’s just say it was good.  Really, really good.

Speaking of things that are really, really good, we tried a new chocolate bar today, and it’s out of this world.  One of our favorite brands over here is Galler, and they have one that’s thick, rich white chocolate covering a creamy center of dark chocolate mixed with Cointreau liqueur, which gives it a very slight orange flavoring.  I wish I could share the taste of it with you guys, and then you’d know what I mean.

It was simply amazing. 

Finally, here are a few more pictures.  We seemed to run into a lot of very interesting things today, and I seemed to shoot them all.  First of all, a nice street scene of Nancy—

Second, a group of sheep dog owners decided to take their sheep dogs on a walk en masse through the park because, well, they could—

Finally, there’s an impressive cathedral here, the Basilique St. Epvre, a cathedral made even more impressive by the fact that it’s ringed with statues, including one of a cow with wings—

And because I probably can’t top a cow with wings (or a kid with Nutella on his face) that’s it for today!

No comments:

Post a Comment