I am going to write REI a nice note about the astonishing wicking/anti-microbial properties of their shirts, one of which I wore for approximately two days, including a one hour-flight, four-hour layover, an eight hour flight, an hour train-ride, another hour bus-ride, and several more hours of a death-march around the city waiting for our hotel to be ready and still did not wrinkle or smell like armpits.
I will buy ten of them when I get home.
Chartres cathedral is about a thousand years old and looks it. Apparently there is a point in my head at which stuff merely becomes Really Damn Old, because I was not noticeably more wowed by the 4th century crypt in the basement. Yup. That's old, all right. (I don't think I have any real ability to comprehend a thousand years. Anything over about four hundred all occurs simultaneously in my brain. Petroglyphs, Anasazi ruins, Chartres, Romans, Visigoths, Mayans, Erik the Red, Columbus, Pyramids, Beowulf, Caesar...I think on some level I may believe Jesus was stabbed in the side with a Clovis point by Vikings.)
Not speaking the language is a strange and lonely feeling. I always get anxious in big cities by myself, but this is worse, because of a vague feeling that if I am attacked by a rabid mime, I will still be trying to navigate through "Excuse moi, un mime...uh...uh....je ne....uh...bugger....anglais?" by the time it chews through to a vital organ. (Fear of rabid mimes is not because I'm in France, by the way. I keep an eye out for mimes at all times. They're like ninjas who think they're funny.)
Everyone has been very nice, though, except the waiter with the bad omelet. Even in Paris. I don't know what to make of Paris. I might need a better keyboard to get into that. I can see why people hate it. I can guess why some people love it. The guards at the train station carry AK-47s. They are serious about their trains.
Things unexpected about traveling---sudden intense affection for anyone who speaks your language. Regrettable condition of pay-toilets, many of which lack seats as I understand them. Smallest elevator on earth. Outrageously good food at travel kiosks. Unexpected cardboard cut-outs of the Pope and the Michelin Man. Didgeridoo player in the park. Large number of carousels.
Anyway, three days in Chinon, then back to Paris and a hotel, then home. Having fun, got a dozen new birds and hoping to add more (common moorhen chicks are ADORABLE) but will also be glad to get home where I can communicate without hand gestures and plaintive looks.