Monday, July 5, 2010

Off on the adventure and lessons learnt

Yesterday, Monday was a big day for us. A the crack of dawn we were up. Exhausted from the day before, excited as we watched the Parissians go through their normal day through our little window. The street below was already moving with the bakery and greengrocer already receiving visits from people.
The chocolate croissants, coffee were terrible in the hotel. Watery espresso – the same stuff you get a bad training venue. It’s a reminder that the same can occur in Australiua – cities can become so disconnected from the quality and the origins of their food. Yes fast food and bad food does exist in Paris.
But today was not about paris, today was about our adventure, driving, regional france and LE TOUR! I don’t know what the lady thought of Mark – I introduced him as the strong, cold, man who likes beer and si driving while I ride my bike. After the safety and instruction video, the demonstrations we were on the wrong side of the road!
I’m not sure how Mark did it, but we got out of Paris relatively unscathed – a little stressed. We quickly found a new friend – Tom Tom. In Paris, listening to Kylie and Mark we were still confident we’d be fine with the road atlas, it was on their insistence we took it, “just in case”. Three cheers for Tom Tom, Kylie and Mark!
By the time we’d reached Villers Brettenoux, we’d negotiated tollways, truck stops, truck stop toilets, round abouts where you travel anti clockwise, narrow Paris streets, signage that the speed on the A15 slowed down in rain. And the lessons continued, - Lesson 2 – don’t arrive at lunchtime to a small country village- they’re closed for eating.
It’s a lovely way to learn how a gesture of thanks can build friendship. From the Franco Australian Museum located off Rue de Melbourne you can see the playground in Victoria School with the big sign “ Don’t Forget Australia”. A visit to Villers Brettenoux should be on the agenda of every young adult. Take pride in your place, people and country – Ah oui Madame, je suis australienne and Victoria Hall, adjacent to the has more Australian Heritage than most Australian Schools I’ve taught in or visited.
The Australian War Memorial was sombering reminder. Dedicated to the 11, 000 Australians died on the Western Front, it’s located on a hill overlooking the open plains of the Somme.
Travelling along the Somme River, we made our way through Arigcultural towns, slowed down by tractors, wheat wackers at work in the fields, wrong turns, missed signs and another stop to an Australian War Memorial dedicated to 3rd division. The absence of fences on the fields gave us the extra space to manouever the van around.
But it’s the normal things that are exciting on our holidays, going shopping, booking into our accommodation, ordering bread and croissant to arrive at breakfast, buying terrine, looking for sunscreen, cooking lunch, going to the shower block, listening to BBC radio. It’s great, but it’s going to get better – tomorrow is Le Tour.

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