Annecy to Lyon to home 23 March 2008

Just unbelievable. (Now, for the necessary feeling and effect, imagine hearing those two words as Irena would say them – in her accent with a totally disgusted tone of voice.)

The elevator in the hotel was not working when I had to leave at 5:30am this morning, so I had to drag my 100 bloody lbs of stupid luggage down 4 flights of useless stairs. And there does not appear to be an elevator in the train station, so I had to do it again down two flights, then of course lift it up onto the train itself. Damn straight I’ve lost 5 pounds this morning already!!! (And believe me, these are NOT the expletives I used when I FIRST drafted this blog!) annecy hotel

It *was* a lovely rooftop dormer room, though – slanted ceiling just above my head with a skylight that opens, black-painted rafters, a wider-than-US-standard single bed, a big window with venetian blinds that opens in the largish bathroom, and once again, fine attention to detail throughout. cyclist on lake path Annecy is indeed a lovely old city (thanks, Darryl, for the suggestion!) – nestled between not-so-high alps on a huge lake. What tickled me most is the two-directional bike paths, cyclists painted often in bright green, and I could see them even from the train as I went through Aix-les-Bain, another famous Tour path

Sometime last week, Irena and I were commenting and laughing about how we do not exist for all the young men…they only have eyes for their ‘own’, and if anyone ever does seem to notice us, it is only the ‘old’ guys. Well, I experienced that in spades this morning! As I was dragging my luggage down the platform toward the train, this OLD French guy that I passed, complete with beret and not bad looking but short and about age 65-70, whistled at me, gave me a thumbs up, and clapped (what, that I was pulling my own luggage?), and I heard the word ‘belle’ – sure made me laugh, and feel good!

Today is Easter Sunday, and now I am rolling (sitting backward) along the edge of a wide hilly valley between alps, steep hills to one side and flat land to the other, but cannot yet really see mountains because the sun is not quite up, and the fog and clouds are heavy. It snowed last night in this region, and everything is frosted with white – green grass and pink cherry blossoms sort of glow beneath the snow in this soft 7am light. I can just barely see the outline of peaks and ridges, and solid banks of snowfields or glaciers. Much of the countryside outside Annecy reminded me of Pennsylvania so far – very hilly with deep steep river cuts, but now it is flatter. There is a tree everywhere that looks like reindeer antlers.

For several now-funny moments, I was queasy with mild panic when at one train stop, after sitting for about 10 minutes, we started going forward, back the way we came! I began to wonder if I was supposed to change trains, and contemplated asking my neighboring passengers…”Bonjour! Parlais vous Anglais? Are we still headed for Lyon??” But then the train made a wide turn back in the direction we were headed, and now I am riding forward. Then, when I arrived in Lyon, again I had to go to the information desk… “Bonjour! Je parle Francais, mais un petit peu (in my best French accent, smiling)…switching to English: Where do I catch the Satobus (shuttle bus??), and can I get a ticket on board?” And now the phrase “Zut alors!” pops into my head…anyone remember what that means? BTW, Irena gave me such shit this week about my [lack of] French! But it WAS hilarious; I would leave a shop and say ‘Bonjour’, or enter a shop and say ‘Au revoir’ – just couldn’t get it right. They say it takes two months to recall a language you have learned, but I doubt that even 5 years of HS French, with NO chance to practice except in singing, really ever qualified me as a French speaker.