Old City Blues, or, Running Away To The Circus

Trip Start May 14, 2012
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Trip End Ongoing


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Old City
Notre-Dame-de-Whatever

Flag of France  , Burgundy,
Sunday, July 1, 2012

As we pull out of Montpellier we see two tiny figures holding out a large cardboard slab with the word "PARIS" crudely drawn. They're young girls. We pull over on the other side of the toll station and invite them inside. They speak English. They're Swedish. They're going to Brussels and are trying to hitchhike all the way. Their names are Cookie and Mika. ONE OF THEM IS RUNNING AWAY TO CIRCUS SCHOOL.
 
What excellent guests.

The original travel plan was to head to Lyon for the night but, as our travel plans tend to do, this has been altered. We'd be looking at a four and a half hour drive to Paris tomorrow morning (according to Google Maps) if we did this, so we look to see if there is a closer option. I suggest Geneva but that option is quickly shot down. I know it's further out of the way than Lyon is, but heck, it's die Schweiz!

This is when it starts to rain, when it finally rains. We've been avoiding it all this time but it seems to have caught up with us as we head north. In Scotland we joked that we brought the sunshine with us but as the days went on it seemed more and more apparent we really did. But, alas, we turned north at the Mediterranean. This is what we get for leaving the beach.

We're just glad, though, that we pick up Mika and Cookie before the rainfall. They are really good travel companions and have lots of stories. Mika is the one going to circus school, which was what she was doing for a year in Montpellier. There is a more prestigious school in Brussels that she's heading for, and she has to be there in two days in order to make the tryouts. Cookie is just a friend of hers along for the ride - they both hitched down from Stockholm at different times to meet up in Montpellier to head north together. Their boldness makes me consider my own means of transportation. Inspires me, perhaps.

As Lyon is a far better place to get rides than Dijon we decide to drop them off just outside of town. The traffic is terrible so they should be able to get a ride with ease, what with all the cars NOT MOVING and all. But it is nice to slow down while we're actually in the city - I've been doing a number of unofficial pilgrimages to sites of famous writers and Lyon is the site proclaiming Antoine de St-Exubery as its cultural patron. He is the well-known author of many books, most famously The Little Prince - a favourite of mine.

It is still raining when we drop them off at the toll station, but there's enough cover to keep them relatively dry. And, lets face it, they're pretty enough to know they'll get a ride soon, especially if it looks dour.

But the dourness doesn't last long once we are north of Lyon - the drive to Dijon is quite dry. We get into the city at a good time to drop all our things and start to look for a church. My dad is quite good about helping me make Sunday mass, even if he himself doesn't really go in for the whole church himself. But today that committment reaches a whole new level as we realize the church is in the old city.

Churches in old Europe usually elicit excitement - however once we get deep into the sandstone heart of Dijon the feeling quickly turns to horror. Narrow side streets. Predominately one-way. Buildings tall enough to efface all sign of steeples. We finally catch sight of one before we are forced to turn into yet another labyrinth. The videos on this post don't do the city justice. When we finally find a church and I find myself saying "if it turns out to be Anglican..."

It indeed is Catholic. However, it is not the one we're looking for and doesn't have mass at that time. Fifteen minutes late we drive around until LOOK! ANOTHER STEEPLE! Abandoning all pretense of following Google directions we dive once more into the fray and finally find the prize - yet another Notre-Dame-de-Something-or-Wherever.

Getting back, though, is harder. I have Google directions to get to the church (that, you know, were trÚs helpful) but not to get back. With all the one ways (etc) we are quickly swept into an area of town we know nothing about but through sheer sense of direction (read: luck) we finally find the assortment of international flags signifying our hostels front yard. Epic win.

Soon after we grab a baguette, it dawns that Dijon is my favourite old city yet.
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