Monday, October 8, 2012

In Bourges. (not Bruges)

On Saturday all of us English assistants headed up to Bourges just to see somewhere else. Bourges is much larger than Montluçon and has a pretty medieval center (like many towns around here). And- big surprise- has a amazing cathedral. We took an 8:45 train from Montluçon to arrive at 10:00 in Bourges. First on our stop was the cathedral. It's absolutely huge and has fantastic detail to the outside structures. The inside was no less impressive and I particularly loved how the stained glass windows would also leave colored patches on the ground from the sunlight streaming in.

After that we were hanging around trying to decide what to do when we saw this little touristy tram pull up. Sarah was so excited when she saw that, so we all climbed aboard for the tour. The tram brought us around the city to some of the main sights (mostly pretty buildings and churches) though sadly one of the most memorable parts of the tour was when we got stuck behind a moving truck on the narrow little street, also causing a traffic jam. Once we were finally off the tram we found some lunch at a little bar and sat down for some sandwiches. At the restaurant, Minda was quite appalled to find out that Turkish toilets (or squat toilets) are still fairly popular in France and this particular restaurant had one. After that shocking discovery and lunch we headed back out. Since we clearly hand't had enough to eat, we stopped by a fancy candy and chocolate shop called “Forestines” that had been pointed out on our tour. Others got some chocolates but I bought a package of the traditional Forestines- it turns out that they have a crunchy, but thin pulled sugar outside and (I think) a praline inside. They looked like they'll be suckers, but then they are chewable with a slightly nutty inside. All the chocolates and candies are still made in house there.

We decided to have a bit of a walk around to get a slower perspective on some of the places we had already passed by on the tram earlier. In doing this we ran into a health and safety fair that had been set up outside the main square. The gendarmes (police), car insurance people and pompiers (fireman) were there with different booths and of course lots of vehicles (and some horses). Well, I can't pass up a good health and safety fair so we headed in. The most interesting option of course was the car that was spinning around in the center. It was from a car insurance group and to show the importance of wearing a seatbelt. Basically they let you get into this car that's spinning and you wear a seat belt and you don't die so it shows seat belts are important. Clearly this was my cup of tea and I jumped right on line. Martin climbed in the backseat with me as well. Our instructions (and no waiver forms or anything like that) were simply to put on our seat belts, tighten them and fold our arms over our chest. We did, and off the car went.

We had some screaming like an amusement ride, but still fun- until my seatbelt unclipped. I must have put my hand down by it and it the release button, or something else must have because suddenly I was falling into Martin. I think we flipped over one more time and then stopped. I definitely banged my head a little, but there was a brace bar in front of us that I was able to kind of hold onto to keep from getting hurt. Obviously I told the people what had happened when I got out, but it didn't seem to lead to anything more than shouting “hey, her seatbelt unclipped” a few times before the next group was lead in. Don't worry- I didn't really get hurt or anything! We wandered over to the firefighters and I asked to try on an outfit. I was probably the one person to do this all day- I don't think it's very much in the French spirit to just go put on someone's work uniform- but but they were very obliging to me. I got some wonderful photos and I feel quite prepared for my future career as a french firefighter.

There were some parks just across the way, so we wandered about in there for a little bit, then heading over into Meillleurs Ovriers exhibit that was nearby. It was people who had achieved the status of masters of their trade in France- a difficult achievement and some of there works were on display. It made for kind of a hodge podge collections of items however. Then we wandered down to another old building that had rooms still decorate up from the 18th century or something along those lines. It also had pieces of an art exhibit that was all around town. I really liked the stained glass pieces of the exhibit most of all.

After that, a drink to pass the time away from the drizzles that had been threatening rain all day and on to dinner. We all stuffed ourselves thoroughly, especially with some desserts that came out. Then back to the train station to make our way home- almost. I had planned for some drinks with couchsurfers in the area, so we walked directly from the train station in Montluçon to “our” bar. The guys there were fantastic and a fun bunch. It was a great end to the evening and all in all, a wonderful day.

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