Saturday, June 07, 2008


On the second part of the journey now, the early morning train from Paris (06.38) to Grenoble (09.33). The countryside is now clad in green, the leaves covering all the trees and the grasses tall and in flower, just a few red poppies to add a bit of colour. Certainly, it looks a lot more attractive than it did in the winter. However, the weather is again bad, dark and cloudy, cool and moist, meaning that the best weather I have had down here was that time in February. Coming off the train in Paris last night was a disappointment as it was about ten degrees cooler than Rotterdam, there was a wind and it was spitting with rain. To add to that, the one hotel after the other was full, so I ended up staying in a rather expensive ( €80 a night) two star hotel which failed to provide any towels, up by Gare de lÉst. I met my friend near his house in Arts et Metiers and he took me to a local Vietnamese restaurant for a delicious dinner, just before it closed.

So… now on the way out of Grenoble, waiting in an airport hangar somewhere away from the main Lyon airport terminals. We have been herded like animals through x-ray machines, passport conyrol, ticket control to be left standing (or sitting for the lucky few) waiting for a plane to arrive to take us to London Stansted. WE are already at least a half hour late and have been waiting here for forty minutes and no-one has made any announcement about the plane being delayed, let alone made apologies for it. If anyone concerned is reading this.. think twice before booking an Easyjet flight out of Lyon, it is a terrible experience. In fact, most French airports seem to be particularly terrible (Charles de Gaulle is my least favourite in the world), only the small airport outside Grenoble was half decent and that seems only to open for business in the winter for the ski-ing.

So what did I eat in Grenoble?

Wednesday lunch we went to the hypermarket and I had some sort of salad with couscous. In the evening I went back to the small restaurant run by the old woman where a gain I ate exactly the same food and again was all alone. Salade Grenoblois (with lettuce, sliced new potatoes, walnuts, tomatoes and a delicious vinaigrette, followed by old tough chicken pieces cooked in a sauce of crayfish, served with potatoes dauphinoise, with a large amount of delicious cheese on top (I preferred this to the chicken) and then some ice cream dessert flavoured with the local green chartreuse liquer. Yesterday lunchtime, to the tennis club where we had another salad – this time a berger salad with spek and goat’s cheese, along with the lettuce, tomatoes, walnuts and vinaigrette followed by chocolate mousse. Then last night, a dauphinoise salad a bit like the berger salad, with two large pieces of goat’s cheese on toast, followed by a plate of ‘dry’ cheeses. Delicious. So at least the food was not bad. Just the weather, which started off badly and just got worse… cooler and windier and wetter – it was typical English summer holiday conditions on the way to Lyon airport, with drizzle falling from low hanging clouds. So, it remains just in February when I managed to experience good weather down in Grenoble. Strange.

And now, I am on the Stansted Express, a cool 17 pounds to get to ‘Central’ London (i.e. Liverpool St Station) about an hour after I would have expected due to our unannounced delay – which turned out not to be so bad… it just felt worse because they couldn’t be bothered to make any announcements. As for the price, they had the cheek to ask a full € 20, just a pound less for the bus which took us from Grenoble station to Lyon airport, despite the fact that there is a TGV line between the two. But having waited 20 minutes in vain to buy a ticket for the train this morning, it became clear why people take the bus, a ticket for which I managed to buy within a minute.

At least I used the time fruitfully by managing to tie up the differences in the accounts, with which I had been struggling so badly in the office during the morning. Sometimes it is better to get some fresh air and take a break, as quite often a solution will present itself all of a sudden.


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