Thursday, September 4, 2014

Moonlight Over Troyes

It took less than 100 feet to see the difference between night and day.

I think I mentioned about how the weather in Colmar yesterday was nothing like it was forecast.  It was supposed to be sunny and 75 and ended up being cloudy and 60.  Well, when we woke up this morning, the forecast said sunny and 75 again, while reality was something different.  We weren’t too concerned; today was mostly a driving day.  But we were still curious as to why it was happening, and we found out when we crossed the Vosges Mountains on the way to Troyes. 

Driving up the mountain it was cloudy, cold & gloomy.  As soon as we hit the summit of the mountain and started the drive down, and I’m not kidding about this, the sun came out and the temperature jumped 15 degrees.  One side of the mountain was horrid, while on the other side, no more than 100 feet away, the weather was beautiful.  So THAT’S why Colmar was gloomy yesterday!

Speaking of which, driving up & down the mountain roads was quite interesting, even with two big trucks in front of us, as evidenced by this picture Loraine took

Anyway, greetings from Troyes, where it IS nice outside.  In fact, here’s the view out of our hotel window, a view that prompted the title of the blog—

It’s a bit of a shame that we didn’t get to enjoy the weather more, but like I said it was mostly a driving day, with two very important stops.  The first?

This is the final grocery store chain at which we needed to stop and buy chocolate and cereal, and it took us until today to find one. I think I’m now completely stocked up, while I believe Loraine needs one bar which was usually available at a Super U.  Either the one in Munster didn’t have it or they don’t just don’t make them any more. 

I think she’s hoping for the former.

The other stop was at the Epinal American Cemetery—

Epinal, in my humble opinion, is probably one of the most beautiful of American military cemeteries.  It sits in a valley between a couple of hills, and just has green as far as the eye can see.  And you know what’s a shame?  It only gets about 5% of the visitors of, say, the Normandy American Cemetery.

That’s just not right.

We stopped here because of this guy—

And because of the two people surrounding Loraine and her geeky sidekick. 

That’s Nathalie Colin of Chantraine (near Epinal), joined by her mother, who are two of the people who’ve adopted the graves of individuals buried in the cemetery.  One of Nathalie’s “adoptees” is the dude pictured below, Gerald Morin of Munising.  Loraine had provided Nathalie with information on him, and when she found out we were gonna be in the area, she offered to meet us at the cemetery and say “hey”.

Which is exactly what happened today.

As with everyone we’ve met so far on this trip, the kindness and generosity shown by Nathalie and her mother was amazing, whether toward a guy from Alger County who died 70 years ago or two Americans who stopped by to pay their respects.  So to Nathalie and her mom, merci beaucoup.  We hope to see you again.

We then made our way to Troyes, the old town portion of which is shaped like a Champagne cork.  No, I’m not kidding.  This is the heart of the Champagne region of France (apparently, the only place in the world where you can actually make sparkling wine and legally call it “Champagne”) and when the old rich dudes who founded the city hundreds of years ago were putting it together they decided to do it in the shape of a cork.

So the next time that topic comes up in conversation, and I’m sure it will, you’re all ready to go.

Here’s what the old town looks like—

There are a lot of old, leaning, half-timbered houses and a big public square in front of the town hall (no parks, though).  And as you’re walking through Troyes you start to notice a few strange things, including this guy outside of a store—

And the fact that you can buy shirts just like the one on the right in France—

Speaking as a Michigan State grad, I’m appalled.  Just appalled.

Dinner tonight was from this amazing bakery—

And since a few of you have sent me comments about the stuff we’ve been eating, here’s your bakery beauty shot of the day—

After eating the cherry custard/flan/whatever-it-was piece of heaven (as well as some real food, Mom) we had to go back and tell the guy running the bakery just how good it was.  Now, I know I’ve said this a lot over the past week, but it was amazing.  Simply amazing!

Here’s your animal picture of the day, at least an animal picture of a sort.  See this drain pipe attached to a building in Troyes?

Well, this is how the water comes out of the bottom.

Because, really, would you expect anything different?

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