Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Trompe (with an accent over the e that I don't know how to make) means making a mistake. Yesterday was a big day of trompe-ing (Franglish) but it ended up with some great experiences.
Our first plan was to get up early and take the train about 45 minutes away to Monet's Garden. This is the garden where he painted his famous water lily paintings. The train left at 8:20. We had a wake up call for 7, but I was in the shower before then. We left the hotel by 7:30, but by the time we found the correct ticket office for the SNCF, learned that American credit cards don't work in the self-serve machines, and stood in line to buy the tickets, we missed the train by 2 minutes. Earl and I were both kicking ourselves, playing that "if only...." game. The next train didn't leave until 10:20 so we had a lot of time to kill.
When we got off the train we rented bikes. Earl always rides ahead of me because he's a faster rider. At one point, I was chasing after someone, calling to him because he missed the turn to Giverny, when it turns out not to have been Earl but someone else dressed in brown. We missed the bicycle path and took the busy road. Then we thought we were at a different museum instead of the gardens. Finally, once inside, we tried to enjoy the beauty and forget about our eventful trip there.
After walking and sitting, and oohing and aahing over the house with its bright colors and Japanese art collection, we were ready to bike back. We bought a scoop of ice cream from an ice cream truck -- I got cafe flavor, Earl had tiramisu -- we sat down and looked at the train schedule. The last train listed was at 2:20. Earl looked at his watch. It was 2:05 and we had four miles to bicycle through the French countryside.
We ditched the ice cream cones and hopped on the bikes. Then we began to ride like crazy. We weren't very far before I pictured the schedule in my head and realized we had been looking at the Paris to Vernon schedule rather than the Vernon to Paris train schedule. I yelled for Earl to stop, but he was already too far ahead. I tried to catch up to him, he even waited for me at one point, but as soon as he saw me, he started bicycling again and my yells didn't reach him. That's when I decided to stop. If I couldn't catch him then he would eventually have to come back for me. I stood still on my bike, enjoying the shadow that fell on the countryside when a cloud moved across the very blue sky. I wished I had the camera to take pictures of the scenery. Eventually, Earl came back looking for me and I explained our trompe again.
We slowly rode the rest of the way to Vernon and caught a train back to Paris.
Our next mistake was also transportation related. We were having dinner at Marie's parents. Marie is the French girl who came to stay with us last summer. Dinner time was set for 8 or 8:30. I knew we should arrive closer to 8:30. We left the hotel at 7:45 with a plan to get there by bus. We had to change buses three times. The third time, we got on going in the opposite direction. We rode to the end of the line then had to wait 15 minutes for the next bus to arrive.
At nearly 9 oclock, we found the building and someone was going into the outer gate. They let us in. But, as we looked at the tall building, we realized that we had no idea which apartment they lived in and we didn't have their phone number. We stood in the courtyard and called toward the open windows, "Marie!" "Jean-Baptiste!" No luck.
I asked people who walked in. No one knew them. Finally, a man showed us a little screen that, if the proper button was pushed, would list the tenants name alphabetically. We found their name and called. Marie came down the elevator and took us to their apartment on the seventh floor. No wonder they couldn't hear us.
Marie's parents, Jean-Baptists and Alice were very charming. We had drinks on the terrace and could see the Eiffel Tower from there. We drank a delicious honey liqueur and had some rounds of bread with pate.
We moved to the table for the first course -- a green soup. Yes, that's right, green. Many times the French will make a vegetable soup and then puree it all together so it has the consistency of tomato soup. This was made from courgette, which we had a hard time figuring out but finally decided it was zuchinni, although the French/English dictionary suggested summer squash. The pale green soup in the white and blue bowls was beautiful. I did not get a picture.
After that we ate thick tuna steaks with a sauce made from basil, lemon and cream -- yes, green again. We had white rice and carrot medallions too. Then came the cheeses -- four different kinds, all gooey and delicious melting on my tongue. Finally, dessert, which I was too full to eat, but ate any way. Raspberry sorbet made by Alice and a citron tart. Hmmm. We didn't stay for coffee because Alice was driving back to her parents' house in the suburbs.
Alice and Jean-Baptiste were very interesting and friendly. I'm glad Marie stayed with us and we were able to make this connection. Earl kissed them both on both cheeks before we left, but he blames the honey liqueur. I shook hands, but I liked them both very much. Here's what we saw when we got to the train station. And we got on the train going in the right direction.
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