austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Let me take you on a little trip

Back to our European tour. Our next journey was from Rennes to Caen, because we wanted to get to the Parc Festyland just outside Caen. We'd get there by train again. Conveniently for people who worry about missing stops Caen would be the final stop on that line, so we couldn't overshoot it. And while we had a reserved coach number --- and the train platform gave directions for where to stand to be near the door for the coaches, a great thing I haven't seen in United States trains --- we didn't have reserved seats. We could just sit down, confident we weren't taking anybody else's seat because they weren't there. bunny_hugger noticed in the rocky hills beside the train station some birds she couldn't quite identify, ones that looked like pigeons but strangely large.

Anyway, the train was smooth, fast, and uneventful. I'm also not sure that our tickets were ever inspected. There are many aspects of the French railway system we don't understand. One of them is that apparently tickets are supposed to be not just purchased but validated before you get on the train. That validation's done by putting them in an automated validating machine on the platforms. Only some tickets are sold pre-validated, with the instruction to not put them in the validating machines. Why? I don't know. It feels like the remnant of a system that made good sense once. I like a bit of pointless tradition as well as anyone, but I'd like to know where the tradition comes from.

Our hotel was across the street, literally; bunny_hugger knows how to pick convenient and inexpensive hotels. She would have been a great travel agent if that were a paying profession anymore. We tried to get in through the narrow door next to the hotel's restaurant and the clerk came over to explain that we would check in from the hotel's counter.

The restaurant was a sweet-looking spot. We'd have breakfast there every day --- bread, cheese, croissant, yoghurt, coffee or tea --- and would get dinner there once, too. We'd end up having breakfast just at the edge of the window, not outside; it wasn't quite warm enough for that, for us. Locals were hardier and ate on the sidewalk. The spot had some pamphlets and such, all in French, although one morning they also had a pop-philosophy magazine. bunny_hugger did her best reading it. Between her years learning Spanish and the incomparable help of technical terms she did as well in reading French as I did, and I had four years of it. I'll try to excuse myself by saying they were more years ago.

Trivia: The $16 million in war loans that Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin arranged in 1813 --- about half what was estimated needed for the war, and close to the gap between war costs and tax revenues --- came from three American investors. The treasury received about 88 cents on the dollar for the loans. Source: Union 1812: The Americans who Fought the Second War of Independence, A J Langguth.

Currently Reading: Asimov's Science Fiction, July 2015. Editor Sheila Williams.

PS: A Summer 2015 Mathematics A To Z: ring, a simple little word with surprising depths. Not a substitue for your Intro to Abstract Algebra class, though it might help some anyway.

Tags: animal liberation 40 years on tour

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