OUR TRIP TO FRANCE
September 28th, Day 5
Traffic. So much traffic. Late into the night and early again in the morning. And it is dark. There is no light in the morning, just traffic and dark. Too much to do in the day though. Wake up and move on. Skip breakfast at the hotel though, it is too expensive for a croissant and a few bits of fruit. Instead lets try town, some McDonald's will do for us.
So hungry as we step off and walk to the square with McDonald's. The town seems so quiet for this early. There is the store. Huh? The staff seem to be standing outside having a smoke. Nothing unusual around here, at least it isn't in the store (McDonald's must enforce some of their policies world wide). No bother, we'll go inside anyway. Looks empty in there. Hey! The door is locked. The staff say something but I can't make it out. But I can read. Opens at 10am. 10AM! What bloody fast food store opens that late in the day. Look at the menu - there is no breakfast menu even. Hunger and desperation now. Cursing McDonald's and French hours. Go look elsewhere. Croissants and coffee; all that seems to be on offer. And expensive too. Keep looking, something will have to be open. This place serves the English and they like breakfast. Nothing! We've walked and found nothing! Okay, a coffee house will do. I'll call a piece of cake breakfast.
Now there is something else in my belly besides stomach lining for the acid to eat. Lets go see the Citadelle. The big church is on the way, we'll check out the inside. A convenience store is found. Must buy more sustenance. Mmm, muesli bars. Hey, cool, the church is Notre Dame. Seems they are a franchise. But it is locked. Seems the French don't open churches in the morning. Continue on to Citadelle then.
Walking past a park; evidence of Carnies having been around. Cross a canal and into the remains of a botanical garden. Looking at a Station Oxygen store were you can hire Segways. Too expensive but it looks like fun. We use feet still. Into the park to discover a zoo with a nice sign saying it is free (in English, no worries about incorrect translation). Zoo has some kookaburras in it, but they just laugh with a haughty French sneer, not a good Aussie belly bellow. Edyta attracts little Guinea Pigs begging for food with "Gweep, gweep, gweep" sounds. See Mongoose sharing a cage with some big spiny hedgehog that is pushing another hedgehog to get into the precious suns rays. So cold, pull my jacket around me. Edyta stops to hunt peacock feathers. She is eating biscuits and drops one - whoosh; it is plucked from the ground by a chicken and a flock of birds begin running around playing mugby with the scraps. Edyta resumes feather picking but offends a duck who pecks at her from behind. It only gets her boot, no harm done. I chase off duck.
Don't trust those pelicans
Out of zoo and through the playground to Citadelle. At last. Hang on, it just looks like big walls and a big ditch. Impressive defence, not impressive sight. Walk along for a bit. Nothing but joggers and bike riders. One man plays his trumpet as loud as he can. Must like the acoustics. Or he is forced away from everyone else to make his racket. We turn back before walking the whole Citadelle. Just as well, map shows over 2 kilometres around the base. We don't enter the middle; still too many active French soldiers walking around. I'm not allowed contact with foreign military officials.
Entrance to Citadelle
So hungry. Feeble cake has long since dissolved away. We agree on Quick. Mmm, French opposition to McDonald's. At least by lunch it is open (this place also has no breakfast menu, or breakfast opening hours). We order food, knowing words like Maxi for Large and Coca-Cola Light for Diet Coke makes the job much easier this time. And Poulet is chicken and the other should be beef. Easy. One learns the language of food quickly.
Lunch is finished; lets go to the Salvo store to see second hand French goods suggests Edyta. I follow along. Only the store is shut and not open till later. Nothing is ever open. Let's go to the museum then says I. So we do. It is expensive but I take the risk and we enter. Edyta isn't as enthusiastic and wants to sit down and may be right, all just art and statues and old stuff that isn't impressive. So I say we should leave but Edyta points to a room we haven't entered. We go in and I light up. Games tables everywhere - as far as the room stretches. Big, real, terrain models and buildings, perfect for 15mm armies. The tables are old artillery maps used before cartography was advanced enough to show terrain levels. The tables are huge and awesome and 100's of years old. I want. I want. I want an army to use on them too.
Not much else to do in Lille. Should've got a car. Five o'clock and we are hungry again. No recovery from no breakfast. Lets find a place to eat. We go out to the first store but it has shut. We walk around, not many restaurants and all are shut. Keep walking, McDonald's ahead. Not more junk food. I want something else. But they are all shut. Everything closes early and opens later. I find a pasta place but it isn't open. We sit in McDonald's and wait till 7 then go back to pasta place. No English here but plenty of pointing.
The day is done. Time to sleep.