Quotable....

Quotable....



Robert Frost

The best way out is always through.





Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 6 (6/04/08): Lazy day, packing, Castle at Cheverny

Pre-entry warning: I am way behind on what I intended to do here with blogging about our trip. Yup, sadly, pathetically (sp?) it is more than a year later and I am still plugging away at drafts of quick notes I put down to help assemble a better remembrance for all of us. I am gonna do it. I am gonna finish this. Unlike the three scrapbooks that lay still in tidy piles in my pile infested bedroom. So here goes. And yes, this trip was done a year ago and here we are blessed to have another big trip this year in August. We are going to London/Dublin for a week as inspired by my mother-in-law who, not having had a vacation in ages, and has forged through a lot in the almost three years since my father-in-law died to rise up and proclaim she wanted an adventure. Then I will blog a bit about that. Really! I will. Now does anyone have to read it. No way, but thanks for anyone that does read and comment for indulging me. Now, here goes our last day in the Loire:

Oh, how hard it was to rise from the bed this day. I woke first and carefully asked David to fetch us our breakfast, throwing him out of his comfort zone (language-wise), for sure. My sweet David drove the short distance into Preuilly to gather some pastries for our breakfast as it would have taken far too long for us all to beautify, dress, and pack for the day and THEN get breakfast. He returned as we were finishing getting ready. But before we could meet the day, we had to get some washing out to dry, because we knew it would take most of the day to dry. Why so long to dry? It was damp our whole stay in the Loire and that dearly affected drying time. And while I always think rain clouds and rain can make a beautiful dramatic landscape more dramatic, it also makes foreign travel for newbies like us, um, lets say, stressful. And the laundry. Well because we packed lightly (well lighter than most families of five) laundry was a every other day necessity. As we loaded up for the day I noticed we were starting at the early "afternoon" time of 2pm. "Ah, well Jenny," I told myself' "you have to let go of the all-American obsession of packing every vacation hour to the full and instead let this day just go with the flow."


Now this drive was only for about 90 miles. I assumed that meant it would only take us, oh, about 1 1/2 hours or so. Well a little over 2 hours later (without potty stops) we arrived. See when you are not on one of France's pristine, well marked, higher speed autoroutes you are invariably on a winding country road that hits every small village, suburb, neighborhood possible, with all the speed decreases along the way. But our spirits rose when at the end of our last country road the castle majestically came into view at the end of the avenue. We arrived at Chateau de Cheverny antsy and hungry. But with my need for keeping on task I nixed the station wagon picnic and promised the splurge of some snack on the castle grounds. (Hey these babies are old premises but most all historic sites in France have their own tourist friendly cafe or snack stand.)


As we arrived I realized we were exactly in time for the feeding of the hounds. This 17th century built castle/chateau still has descendents of the original family in residence on the third floor. And they still go on grand hunts with the 70 or so hounds that they tend in the large kennels next to the castle. We could not miss the kennels either, with the large crowd surrounding it and the eager hounds atop their kennels in a fenced in roof space, barking ,jumping, and pacing. Then the smell hit our noses. I had pushed the girls into a close space to get a view because keeping true to European sensibilities about lines and crowds, it is pushiest gets it, kids and short people outta tha way. Poor Anna and Sara (because they had to deal with me always moving them forward, and keeping them stuck to us throughout our trip) had a clear view (Sophia napped undisturbed in her stroller) of where the smell was originating and what was creating a frenzy in the dogs: huge quantities of some kind of raw meat mixed with equally huge amounts of dog food were laid in a 2 foot wide, oh, about 15 foot long pile. Novel idea? No. But the spectacle was the next part . As the castle clock bells chimed the 5pm hour the dogs were in full uproar. The trainer kept them waiting a minute and then signaled for them to be released into the kennel area with the food. Still jumping and yelping, the dogs all stayed about 2 foot away on one side of the pile, waiting for the call. The trainer now waited, waited and waited. He blew a whistle and they were still and quiet , one more blow and after the devouring rush the food was gone in 30 seconds. Pretty cool to see in person. Hmm I was hungry.


videoWe found some yummy ice cream for about 4 bucks a scoop (typical) and Sophia woke up in time to munch on an empty cone. We approached the grand entrance to the chateau and walked by a young Asian couple taking wedding pictures, on their own, tripod and all. I wish I had taken a picture of this as the small stature couple stood out so flamboyantly, with his rhinstone studded tux with tails, and her equally bedazzled ballroom wedding gown. What a grand backdrop to have, I thought as be breezed by the photo shoot and entered the castle. The rooms were very carefully laid out in pristine period styles that the castle had gone through decor-wise, but, dare I say it... we kinda blew past it all because of the crowds and the fact that the rooms were roped off as to keep from exploring the full space, thus the mass pushed you forward to the next sight...no savoring. Yet, having started late in the day we left the chateau, and hurriedly toured the gardens and grounds.
Here we had another potty pause. Funny note: in French public places where "facilities" are provided it is incumbent on the , uh, pottier, to "tip" the provided attendant for use of said "facilities". Yes, I can definitely understand this as their are good sized crowds at these gigs and all the "tip" encouraged potties are nearly spotless. But what is different from place to place is if children are included in this social rule. Here at Cheverny the elderly lady attendant seemed to chide me when I added tip for me and the girls. She did a tisk-tisk sound and returned the extra bit I had included for the girls and in French told me that children are free, as they did not have the control of adults. Point taken. Later I would go by this rule (in Paris) and be chided about remembering a tip for each person, including children. Ah, go with the flow Jenny.
Now I suggested that the packed picnic could be fetched and eat at the chateau, but all around the vote was to head back the two hours to our gite for our last Loire night and picnic on the road. We had lots to do too, dishes to clean, clothes to gather, and packing, packing, packing to do for our flight out the next morning to ESPANA!!!!

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