Monday, April 06, 2009

On the road to nowhere

These are not from this trip. If you look carefully, you can clearly see they are German cherry blossoms

Saturday, eager to escape the heavy hand of the French security apparatus* that was strangling all life out of the city, Amynah and I decided to go for a bike ride. The weather her having taken a decided turn for “springlike,” we elected to head west, towards the cherry and apple orchards near the village of Westhoffen, in the hopes of seeing them in bloom.

Sadly, it was not to be. We took the Rainbows and Ponies trail as far as Avolsheim, then turned north, but we were too early: the orchards we saw remained resolutely bare of flowers.

I am not one to take disappointment lightly: robbed of one goal, I made up a new one on the spot – to make it to Saverne, a good fifty kilometers away from Strasbourg. And so, a dubious Amynah pedaling gamely at my side, we pushed further north, through the foothills of the Vosges.

While I don’t like biking without a goal – if not orchards, than brute distance – Amynah does not like biking without a plan. We were expecting our friends Yann and Félicie for dinner that night, and had to be home in time to prepare the meal. Given that we’d not done this route before, and were not sure that NATO security would allow us to return to the city by train, we had to turn back, rather than risk turning up in Saverne and having to call our friends asking them to pick us up.

Open House in Wasselone

Rather than bike directly back home, we stopped in the town of Wasselone, where we decided to have a bite to eat, and perhaps catch a train if they were running. We rolled into centre ville and asked the first woman we saw where we could find the he train station.

She replied (in French) “Ah yes – it is just back up this street, past the police station, and on your right, just off the Rue du gare.” We thanked her, and began to turn our bikes in that direction, before she thought to add “But it doesn’t exist anymore. They’ve turned the station building into a house.”

We ended up biking the full distance back – 80 km in all – in time to make dinner and enjoy and excellent evening with out friends, though we were all a little giddy: Amynah and I from bike exhaustion, Félicie and Yann from having an anti-NATO riot break out in front of their apartment at 6:30 AM.

* While the security guys were only barely convinced to let Félicie go to her office on Friday, and wouldn’t let Yann have a beer in his favourite bar on Saturday, they didn’t see a problem with letting Amynah and I hang out next to the Canadian Prime Minister’s motorcade as it was getting ready to take him to Baden Baden for dinner (turns out he was in a hotel very near our place). We were within a hockey stick’s length from him and the Canadian defense minister as they drove by. I’m guessing the Gendarmes took one look at the species of leader they were escorting and decided that there was no way anyone could be bothered to have a go at them.

1 comment:

Victor Chisholm said...

Those gendarmes ought perhaps to take note of how some Canadian PMs deal with protesters.