Dunkerque, France - June 29, 2013

OK, OK... I stand corrected. Yes, Amiens is the largest of the Medieval cathedrals but it is not the one in danger of falling down (although its spire does have a marked kink to it). The poorly constructed one is at Beauvais. Beauvais fell while it was being built (trying to be the biggest) and was reconstructed smaller and shakier. Oops. Hey, don't believe everything you read on the internet. Especially if it is signed by me. Well, Beauvais will have to wait for another trip. Geez... now I may never see it.

Amiens Cathedral

The Cathedral at Amiens, France

Not Bad for 1200's

Not Bad for the 1200's

Rose Window

Rose Window

Facade Detail

Facade Detail

I called the shipper and everything is set so I took the day yesterday and went by train to Amiens. It was on one of the fast TGV's... all very smooth. But it would be nice to drive too. Just south of here is the area of the Somme and so I could see from the train, several military graveyards with perhaps a few hundred graves each scattered around... and a few roadside memorials. It would have been very interesting to take some time there. Also went through the towns of Albert and Corbie that played such important roles in WWI. Geez, this place has seen a lot of upheaval in the past 100 years. Dunkerque itself seems to have been spared during the first WW but did not do so well during the second. First bombed by the Germans during the evacuation, it was bombed by the Allies all through the war as it was an important port held by the Germans. Guess it was bombed even on the last day of the war and was the last city in France to be surrendered. Interesting museum here. Despite that, a lot of the buildings where I am here near the train station seem to have been left standing.

Backstreet in Amiens

Backstreet in Amiens

Anyway, I take the ferry tomorrow (Sunday) to Dover and then will drive to the guest house I have used before, south of London. Then I take the bike to Gatwick airport on Monday morning, drop it off, and have only to be back on the 4th for the flight out. So two full days in London. Oh darn. If the weather is nice, I'd like to go on the giant London Eye ferris wheel and just do a couple of other things. Nothing big. Hopefully the National Museum still has it's Pompeii exhibit. It was on last Christmas when Diane and I were there but the gallery was closed on Christmas Eve, the day we happened to be there. Seeing Pompeii two years ago was fantastic, but I'd like to see this collection too. Probably a lot of things that I saw at the museum in Naples, but I'm sure that there is some new stuff in this exhibit. Seeing personal items that people were using right up to the time of the eruption was quite moving. What an incredible snapshot of life 2000 years ago.

OK... well, after blabbling on in the last email, I'll keep this one short. Have to say though that Amiens is a beautiful cathedral. Hard to believe that it was built in the 1200's. Very low key. Whereas Westminster has a 12 Euro entry fee, audio and guided tours and the whole shebang, Amiens has nothing. It's just a church. Go in, walk around, take pictures, leave. Awesome. Didn't do a whole lot while there. Had lunch at an outdoor cafe. The quiche had ham :( in it but the beer didn't :)

Anyway, special thanks to Bill E and Sarah H who have emailed me. Always nice to hear about all the crap I'm missing. Sorry to miss the drama of Julia Guillard getting tossed out as Prime Minister of Australia, but at least it made the news here. Think you actually have to be there though to appreciate just what a comedy Australian politics actually is. Must have something to do with the heat.

So the weather turned better this afternoon and the forecast is good for tomorrow. Guess it is too much to ask for it to be nice until the 4th? One can always ask. So one funny thing today. I went to a cafe and ordered yet another beer and the waiter (en francais) kept asking me if I wanted a "croque, Monsieur?". I'm afraid that I just didn't understand the word "croque" and so didn't get at all what he was asking. So he went in and brought out something that looked like a ham and cheese sandwich. Ah ha! He was asking me if I wanted a "croque-monsieur". I have no idea where that phrase comes from but I remembered it then and it is some idiomatic expression for just what he was showing me. Ah, what a difference a little punctuation makes. I just had the beer. a 50-centilitre one.

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Samuel Longiaru
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