Dijon Travel Blog› entry 12 of 29 › view all entries
April 1st, 1997 – by: jsbuck1
We had a case of sticker shock when it came to France compared to the Czech Republic. Beer went from one dollar to three and the price of wine and food doubled. We sat in a beautiful small square one morning and three coffees later we left eight dollars lighter. But we did find a nice restaurant and had a delicious meal for 211 Francs including wine. I told the waiter/perhaps owner that we had a budget of 200 francs and he designed the meal for us. Dawn was horrified by this tactic, but when the menu is full of things you don’t understand and the pricing is confusing, sometimes I decide to rely on the mercy of strangers.
We are in Strasbourg on our way to Paris. But we had another day on our rail pass and since we wanted to see some other part of France we decided to visit Dijon. We also thought we might get into the countryside a little. In keeping with our travel methods we have not made any reservations for Paris , and we needed time to take care of that detail. In Prague, using American Online we had gotten the names of about six hotels in Paris that seemed to be what we wanted. Each hotel had a page with a description and with three or four comments from people who had been there. We also had a couple of recommendations from people we knew. We found out that the time we wanted to be in Paris would be at the end of the French Easter vacation, so we were worried that there would be no room. In fact, the two places that were recommended were full but two from the Internet had space, so we ended up making reservations at two hotels, the first would be for two nights at the Gobelins in 5th arrondissement and then we would move to the 4th to the Hotel de Nice in the Marais. We also hooked up with a Servas host, so we planned to stay with him for the last weekend, leaving the last night in Paris still unreserved. It was going to be a problem anyway because our flight left at 7 AM meaning we should be there by 5 AM, therefore . . .Boy, that is early!
Our introduction to Dijon was a couple of cheese sandwiches slathered with Dijon that we ate in a sunny park. The stuff is definitely spicier than what they export to the United States. We did eat all of our meal but it took a lot longer than usual. We thought that they gave us some other kind of mustard, but we found that this is what they serve in restaurants. We finished off the rest of the day and the rest of our Eurorail pass by taking the train down to Beaune and doing a little wine tasting and buying. An energetic town full of places for degustation.
One of the things that I think about when I have nothing better to do is the question, “What carries culture?” I have a pretty good idea about what attitudes I have received from my parents, but what is left from their parents, and their parents before them? And how do a couple’s separate identities combine to be passed on to their children. And finally, and more to the point, how much of the villages of 16th century Austria and 11th century Switzerland that my fathers family comes from is still left in me? How does America filter in? Has the Massive Educational system of the last hundred years change the equation? I feel that our sense of self determination is probably illusional. If scientists had access to time machines these influences could be traced with some accuracy. History, because of its creativity component is not usable for this study.
Where I am desperately trying to make all this lead to is a Roman era catacomb under a Gothic church in Dijon. Unmercifully cold with the bones of a first century martyr at one end and a double circle of squat columns at the other, what does this dark cell have to do with Jesus before, or the Gothic Cathedrals that followed or most importantly with the young altar boy that was woken up by his mother at 6 AM to serve at 6:30 Mass at Saints Simon and Jude parish in 20th century America.
In other words, how far back can personal go. I have always assumed that I was born into a world of hard reality about which I was taught much of what had been discovered about it. There was the world of the past which we studied, most of what had no relevance to our lives, (life in Medieval castles, for instance), The world of today, of progress, and the world of the future, of which nobody spoke. Nobody seemed to care about a time when we would all be dead. I see it differently now. Our minds are a jumbled pile of all the brilliance and foolishness of all that has gone before us. Everything we see and every sentence of language that we hear binds us inexorably to the past.
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