Friday, June 27, 2008

Brugge to Paris

Brugge – a lovely old medieval city with many interesting sights to see and not enough time to see them all.  We did have a nice guided tour in the morning, then free time for lunch and exploring on our own. After returning to the hotel we left the hotel again at 5 all dressed for our performance that evening.  It was in a small church that is now serving as a performance hall.  It had a pipe organ so we were able to play our organ/handbell duet with Roy at the keyboard.  We rang it director-less and it went very well as the organ and pipes were directly behind us.  The Carillon Society there hosted the concert and had publicized it well, especially among their members; so we had quite a large and very appreciative audience.  They really enjoyed our rendition of some Mancini and Cole Porter tunes.   We packed up, went back to the hotel, changed, and went out to find a late dinner as we hadn’t had time prior to the rehearsal.  Most of us ate at a restaurant right across the square from the hotel where we had very good food.  The young ones took off to find dessert and us older folk went back to the hotel to think about how good it was going to feel to get horizontal. 

This morning we left Brugge, Belgium, in a light rain to travel to Paris.  We took a side trip into Amiens to view the largest cathedral in France.   As you can imagine, after several hours on our bus, most of us needed to use the facilities.  There was much new construction going on around the cathedral so the restrooms where our trusty guide, Norbert, took us weren’t in service.  The tourist information office told us where to find the public toilets; so all of us took off for a walk of a few more blocks.  These bathrooms are on the street but are really very nice and clean, assuming some dumb Americans don’t come along and mess them up because they didn’t know how to work them!  They accommodated one person at a time and totally self cleaned after each use if you just let it do its thing.  Long story short, by the time 23 of us used the two that we found we decided that we needed to do lunch before touring the cathedral.  Meals are more leisurely here so we had to hurry back to the cathedral to meet Norbert and the rest of the group. 

The cathedral is beautiful and really is very large and very tall thanks to the use of flying buttresses.  Part of the exterior had been cleaned so was very light, the same was true of the interior. I hope the pictures I took inside will come out nicely so I can share them with you.   (We are on a pretty tight schedule all the time so I haven’t had time to download them from my camera; thus nothing new on the web site.)  We left Amiens to travel on to Paris where we arrived in time to experience their version of rush hour on the freeway.  It rivals ours any day!  We had to go directly to dinner rather than stopping at our hotel first to dump our stuff or we would have missed our reservation.  Not a good thing.  We got a brief tour after dinner as we made our way back across the city to our hotel that is right next door to the Gare de Lyon train station.   (Roy and I actually stayed in this same hotel in ‘97 on a rushed trip home from Nice.  It is nicer now, but the rooms are still pretty small.)  There were huge lines waiting to go up into the Eiffel tower even at 8:30 at night.  Our route took us right along the Seine; so we saw many of the buildings that we have all read or heard about.

Tomorrow we are off to Versailles and then back into the city to rehearse at the American Church in Paris where we will be part of the worship service Sunday morning as well as playing a concert at 5 p.m.  More on that later after it has happened.

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