Thursday, July 07, 2011

Three places to vacation (2)

From the TGV the landscape passed by so fast that you couldn't see any details. I tried to see what crops the fields were planted with. I couldn't make out whether the green stuff was potatoes or sugar beets. There might have been sunflowers. But they were not blooming, yet. So, no vast expanses of yellow blossoms with dark brown centers. Things were not even all that green. France was in a drought. So the corn plants looked puny and underdeveloped for the time of year.

I arrived in Nantes a few hours later, too late for the bus that was supposed to take me to the ferry to Ile d'Yeu. I made my way out of the railroad station and looked for the first hotel I could find. It said Terminus in great big letters. That seemed promising. I entered. The price was right, and I decided to stay over night. I had a view of two TGVs standing on the tracks all night long. Les "trains de grande vitesse" were asleep.

In the morning I visited the Nantes cathedral. It is one of the great Gothic
structures of France with massive portals and statues of the saints in all kinds of nooks and crannies. Biblical scenes were carved into the sandstone, but I noticed that many of the figures had lost their little heads. Had those little heads gone home with tourists or was their absence the result of gradual disintegration? What a pity. Still this was a place where the weary soul could find renewal.

I spent a few more hours at the river bank watching the birds and hiked over the bridge to see what was on the other side of the canal. Boats were tied to the banks, and the whole thing was picturesque enough for photos. After that brief visit, the bus took me through level land past the characteristic white and red or the occasionally thatched roof houses of the Vendee in Western France to Fromentine otherwise known as Barre le Mont. The bus driver apparently only knew the latter. If I hadn't known any better I would still be waiting for the right bus.

I arrived at the Gare Maritime at Fromentine. I purchased a ticket and waited another several hours for the tide to come in so that the ship could take on freight and passengers. The hour-long trip was pleasant and uneventful. My brother picked me up at the Gare Maritime at Port Joinville, the little fishing harbor at Ile d'Yeu. If anything comes close to paradise. This is it, the place of dreams for two weeks of another world.


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