Thursday, May 25, 2006

from Le Bourget du Lac: why here, why now...

I’m riding the train again – my second day of train travel. I feel myself to be completely immersed in the rail system of Europe. I paused only for an hour in Milan. I would have said that it was 59 minutes too long, it being Milan, but I did pull my suitcase around until I found a bakery and so yes, it was worth it, just for this:

Europe 06 France

I have a four hour segment now on a rapid train (TGV) through the Alps over to France. Why there? I am waiting for my apartment to become available (a three week rental, beginning Saturday) and I have three days to kill. Somewhere. I need peace and quiet – to take brisk walks and to get a huge amount of work done. A restaurant in a beautiful country setting, where the proprietor rents out a couple of rooms for people who eat too much and can’t move afterwards seems perfect.

The problem is I arrive on a day the restaurant is closed. Who knew. In anticipation of this, I used my pause in Milan not only to pig out on pastries, but to do shopping for dinner foods. Yes, this detour into Milan's food network did cause me to almost miss the train. Still, I had to carefully consider all my choices : bread and cheese, veggies, fruits and wine. It all added to a little under 5 Euros. You can imagine the quality of the wine – it comes in a box. The last time I drank boxed wine I was 22, a grad student and didn’t know any better. But popping a cork given that I misplaced my handy travel corkscrew seemed daunting and so I opted for a milk carton (with a nice and secure screw top) only without the milk. I’ll report on the quality of the wine later.

Or, I may not report anything. The restauranteur’s wife, with the promising name of Delphine (so French, no?) promised that there is Internet at their place, but I have heard that before and it is hardly ever true. Big hotels have Internet. Little restaurants in the middle of nowhere by a lake near the Alps do not.

UPDATE: Sure enough, the Internet here has been down for days. I am borrowing the restaurant phone line to dial up. Meaning, I am keeping the reservations from pouring in. I am such a difficult guest. But the setting, oh, the setting! Out on my little terrace, before me, the lake (France’s largest natural lake, I am told – but what does that even mean? I know they’re into organic everything here, but a lake?). If I turn sideways, I see this:

Europe 06 France 014
into the morning sun

The challenge will be not only to continue to raid their phone line for Internet access, but to get any work done given the sunny skies and countless opportunities for hikes.

Fortified by a breakfast of warm cakes and fresh berries, I think I'll start with a hike. To get my mind primed for work. Yeah, I need to get into the work groove. I'll find my groove up in the mountains. Off I go.