austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

My supersonic ship's at your disposal if you feel so inclined

The clerk explained the hotel door was really only needed after the restaurant closed at 9 pm or so. And he explained bits of the subway and metro system, including how to get to the castle --- dating from William the Conquerer (!) --- and art museum and other things inside there. Also how to get to the D-Day Museum, and the Tourism Office, and many, many other features. He recommended getting downtown, for example, by way of following the canals rather than just the tram line, though the tram line would be shorter and impossible to get lost following. And he asked if we had anything we hoped to get to.

We did. Parc Festyland, the small amusement park on the outskirts of town. We hoped to go there the next day.

He was taken aback, and pointed out that Sunday wasn't going to be very sunny, and probably would be cool. Monday or Tuesday would be better. And we agreed they would be better, except the park would be closed.

He accepted the logic of this, and with the help of a less-English-speaking associate worked out how to get to the park. bunny_hugger and I had a rough idea that it was going to Twisto Stop Number Three. Actually, apparently, all or much of the public transit system in Caen is called the Twisto. And we would use the number three bus to get there, rather than wait for a stop number three. (We'd imagined some kind of circular transit line, which was plausible but just not the case.) He provided us with maps and bus schedules and we were in good shape, then.

Of course, we had to find somewhere to eat. The hotel restaurant was already closing, as would much of what we found in the immediate neighborhood. After some frustratingly aimless wandering we went to a convenience store that promised quatre-fromage paninis. The clerk was happy to see us, and sell us the sandwiches, although he warned us they were paninis rather than sandwiches. Apparently he's had problems with people not wanting warm cheese sandwiches? I don't know. The clerk would be delighted to see us each time we stopped in. He was a fount of great little moments.

One was his apologizing that ``I don't speak English, only American.'' This comment would lead us to the realization that while he recognized English as it was spoken, he was at a loss to tell accents apart. It's a strange moment to think of not being able to tell, say, British Received Pronunciation from Mid-Atlantic Midlands or from Michigan Midwest, but there you have it. Another fine moment came when bunny_hugger bought some Lion candy bars and he asked how we'd pronunce that in English. He had guessed it would be something like ``Lyon'' or perhaps ``li-unne''. Our best rendition of ``Lion'' seemed to amuse him, and he repeated it to himself as if he were trying on a novelty hot.

The hotel room was small, but big enough by our standards: we could open both our suitcases simultaneously. It also had an old-style tumbler lock, delightful even if bunny_hugger feared she'd never get the hang of which way to turn it. It also didn't automatically lock, which we never would get used to.

Trivia: Though Augustus de Morgan recommended writing fractions with a solidus --- a / b --- in his essay ``The Calculus Of Functions'' (published in the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana, 1845), he would go on to use the notation ``a : b'' in his own writing. Source: A History of Mathematical Notations, Florian Cajori.

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

PS: Reading the Comics, July 4, 2015: Symbolic Curiosities Edition, featuring some circa-1941 comic strip cuss words!

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