Sunday, October 28, 2018

La Rochelle: before we got lost

In our Friday tour of La Rochelle, we reached a point where Véro said we needed to head into the town itself. We passed under a large gateway, as you'll see, and things went fine for the next few minutes. Below, you'll see a musician strumming away and singing. He sang in English ("I seen fire and I seen rain"—James Taylor?), and Héloïse asked me what I thought of his accent. I told her he was, frankly, perfect. If the dude was French, he really had an ear for how to sing like an American. But part of me suspected he was American.

Some Napoleon-wannabe dude named Duperre:

Explanatory plaque (click to magnify):

The rather distinctive entrance into the fortified part of town:

...with tacky icicle lights hanging from the opening:

A statue of Eugène Fromentin:

And his explanatory plaque:

Our singer, who actually looks Irish:

And my buddy Charles's mecca, l'Académie de la Bière:

I find it funny that a "beer academy," a likely zone of licentiousness, is located at "Temple Court." A true coincidentia oppositorum. Or are beer and temples really that opposed? Better ask those beer-making monks.

Not long after the singer, we realized we had no idea where we were going, and we circled back around to the statue of Eugène Fromentin two or three times. As I said before, I like getting lost in new places, but I normally prefer doing it alone, without the pressure of a potentially antsy travel partner. It's rare to find someone with the same tolerance for stress* as you, which is why I often prefer the spiritual breathing room that comes with solitary activities. Other people just fuck your day up unless they're absolutely chill. Luckily, no one in the family was stressed about being lost, and we even traded jokes about going in circles. So that was good.

*Maybe "tolerance for stress" isn't quite the concept I'm going for, here. When I get lost while exploring, I don't feel stressed at all. I suppose it's more a tolerance for randomness, chaos, and flexible itineraries that I'm talking about. Sometimes, planning is a good thing; I had to plan out my cross-country walk last year, because if I hadn't, I might've ended up lost or worse. But I normally trust that most developed, civilized cities won't eat me alive when I visit them, so there's far less need to worry about planning anything in detail. Geneva is a great example of a city that's fun to get lost in... although with a giant lake right next to it, it's a difficult city in which to truly get lost! Maybe I need a better example.

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