Todays challenge: drive from the middle of nowhere to Dijon without a GPS or map. We had contemplated getting a map but the GPS teased us into thinking it was working again so against our better judgement, we threw caution to the wind and took off in search of a new adventure.
We were off to a great start – the sun was shining, the signposts were clear and we were happily singing along to the best CherieFM had to offer. Then we hit Dijon… after the turn off to the centre of town, we pulled over to awaken the GPS to guide us the final few kilometres to our hotel. She told us to drive straight ahead then turn… and that’s it, back into her coma!
As it turns out, the GPS may not have been of much use anyway with all the major road works that put more streets out of action than are actually in use, not to mention the convoluted one-way system. After driving around in circles hoping for divine intervention, we decided to throw ourselves on the mercy of a large hotel chain. We pulled into a Mecure where we were able to pick up a map and get some rudimentary directions – first stop – Europcar!!! It was pushing midday so we were anxious to get there before they closed for lunch.
Somehow we found it… closed on Sundays! It may surprise you that I managed not to smash their *&^!@# windows in with the *&^!@# GPS. Instead, we drove off in search of further directions to our hotel. We stopped in at a florist where our predicament was discussed with great animation by the proprietor and a customer who agreed there was no sense in driving anywhere in the city with the roads works, best just to park and walk! Not really an option with our luggage and the fact that we’d reserved a car space at the hotel – at least now we knew where we were on the map and where we were going, so we thanked them and moved on.
As the crow flies, we were very close but by car, every street we wanted was only half there and every turn we needed diverted us in the opposite direction – we only drove up one street the wrong way but not even that helped! Totally exacerbated, we just stopped (they call that ‘parking’ here) in a square to gather our wits over lunch… and there it was, our street, dead ahead (mind you, we still had to take 4 turns to reach the hotel!).
Relieved, we settled in at a restaurant on the sunny square, worked on our farmers tans and ordered a fondue for two to ensure we didn’t become too cheese deficient. It wasn’t long until our holiday bliss returned and we were ready to fall in love with another city.
After checking in to our more modest but very charming hotel (circa 1772), we set off on foot to see the city. We managed to pass no less than 3 churches until we found the one we were looking for – yet another Notre Dame! This time it was the outside we were interested in, more specifically a carving in the stone of a small owl which has become the symbol of the city. Legend has it that if you rub the owl with your left hand, good luck will come to you. I’ll let you if there’s any truth to it after my encounter with Europcar tomorrow!
From there we followed the ‘Owl Trail’ which is basically a walking path around the city marked out by small metal plates with the ubiquitous owl on them. Being a Sunday, all the shops were closed so we were pleasantly surprised when we came to a street lined with what looked like small market stalls. On closer inspection we realised they all had wine! On even closer inspection we noticed they were giving it away to people wearing funny candle-stick-holder looking things on lanyards around their necks. A quick game of charades with a smattering of French ensued and within minutes, we were shaking our new necklaces at unsuspecting stall holders like alcoholic beggars.
Sip by sip we worked our way up the street of wine producers exhibiting their wares in this one day a year event for the Burgundy region. It wasn’t just wine though, we also had our fill of cheese, cake, honey and of course, mustard along the way too. At the end, we were feeling quite merry and let the owls navigate us back even though it was we who had the hoot!
After leaving the farm, we wound our way through many small villages and eventually to the express way to Dijon. Dijon appears to be as large as Parramatta divided into old and new towns. The main roads leading into the city were all under construction and our hotel was in the old town.
We headed towards the old town with its many short, winding, one way streets with french names and 4 churches in close proximity making the tourist walking map we had virtually useless. I am so impressed with Naomi, she found our hotel right in the middle of the old town. I know the hotel was old because it was built in 1772. Our room in this old hotel is even smaller than my bedroom at home – from one extreme to another!
What made me smile today: We came across the annual wine tasting of the area which for the first time has spread out onto the streets. With our new sippy-cups in hand we did some wine tasting! It was good, even though it was only Pinot Noir (a bit light for our tastes). Love to all.