We got up around 7:00 am today and started getting ready for an 8:00 am departure from the chalet. Karol washed fruit and made some to-go sandwiches and we ate yogurt for breakfast while people took showers and packed. Lena, Naomi, and Bowe tidied up the room and the kitchen and Keane went to get the van.
All set for our trip, we embarked on our journey to France. We made a stop in Lausanne, the fourth largest city in Switzerland, for coffee and a bathroom break. We were also hoping to pick up some Swiss chocolates for family and friends but it was a Sunday and at 9:30 am there were barely any people on the streets and all the shops were closed. Europeans – or at least the Swiss – are taking their time off from work seriously and value peace, quiet, and leisure – we could definitely use more of that in Hawaiʻi and the USA in general.
Making just another stop right before the border to buy some chocolates, Toblerone bars, and a special car liquid meant to reduce emissions, we crossed into France without incident, passport checks, or additional fees. Aiming for Dijon, we traveled through the French countryside and a number of small French towns, the scenery increasingly flat yet charming in a different way.
To break up our commute, we stopped for lunch in the town of Dole. After figuring out the parking situation (there is no through traffic allowed in the town center, with the exception of deliveries (livraisons) and "river people" (riverains), those who live on the river bank. Michał found an interesting public restroom while Karol found a little park where we sat down and ate our sandwiches and fruits.
Taking advantage of our break, we explored a large church – the Collégiale Notre-Dame - with a beautiful organ and acoustics. The church also housed an exhibit of wooden carvings representing scenes from the life of Jesus. After we left the church we went around what we thought was the former house of Louis Pasteur. Bowe and Karol also noticed that the church bells sound a lot like the theme from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
It was a one-hour drive to Dijon. While Karol and Keane were parking the van in a nearby municipal lot, the rest of us took our luggage up to a recently remodeled 2-bedroom apartment located in an otherwise unassuming and somewhat unkept 3-story building. The apartment was clean and modern, clearly still being worked on (the shower curtain and towel bars were not installed, for example) but which otherwise was very functional and would suit us just fine for one night!
After freshening up, we strolled down a few minutes to le Barbarian, an Irish bar that was broadcasting the 5:00 pm game between Japan and Senegal. Their kitchen was not open until 7:00 pm and the hostess suggested we go around the corner, to the King's Tavern, and so we did. There, we ordered a few charcuterie platters, some burgers, scotch eggs, and a “welsh” – a fondue-like melted cheese served in a ceramic bowl with bread on the bottom. We expertly paired our meals with local beers – except for Bowe, who unwittingly ordered a non-alcoholic Queen Elizabeth. From now on, he is only allowed in the company of alcoholic queens.
Our evening repas made us all a little tired. After the game finished, we headed back home to rest. Lena and Keane stopped at the nearby “American Store” along the way to buy a bottle of wine, while we marveled at the amalgamation of disgusting sweets, chips, and sugary drinks that became foreign to us on this trip but are so common place in all 7-11’s and American convenience stores. The stereotype of unhealthy American food is still well and alive in Europe, but – unfortunately – the foundations of that stereotype are even more alive in the US.
Back at home, Bowe caught the group up on accounting and finances (we are keeping all of our group expenses in a spreadsheet and keeping track of our “I Owe You’s,” which proves to be very helpful) and tuned into the Columbia vs. Poland game game that Keane found on the telly. Karol, in the meantime, knocked out cold in another room. After the game was over (it ended in a resounding defeat for Poland, eliminating it from the World Cup), loud snoring coming out from under the coffee table reminded us that it was Keane o’clock. Soon, we all found our way to our sleeping quarters and called it a night.