The Kammerer Clan converges on Franche-Comté!
30.05.2015 - 03.06.2015 16 °C
Take four adults, two of whom who have never left the country, add a little Dramamine, two flights, a train ride, and… eleven hours later they will pop out of the ground in Paris. Beautiful, crowded, exotic Paris, with no time to gawk. After a sweet encounter with a friendly street vendor (Lisa’s French still works!), there were baguette sandwiches in the shadow of Notre Dame, then some resourceful navigating to the Gare de Lyon to catch the train to Besançon—and to Natalie and Eva.
The Kammerer Family was finally reunited for the first time in nine months on the evening of Saturday, May 30. Best birthday present ever! There were many hugs to go around, and Mom’s eyes stayed remarkably dry, if not a bit glisteny. But there wasn’t much time to dawdle about at the station – we had to hop on the tram to shuttle our baggage to the hotel and get ready for dinner. For my birthday/welcome celebration, I had requested to go to a fun little restaurant called Le Café Café, and to invite my friends Claudia and Gabrielle along to meet everybody.
Not only was our dinner a lovely entrée to French restaurant culture for the new arrivals, it was also a wonderful opportunity to exchange cultures – French, American, South Korean, and Taiwanese! I think it’s safe to say that we all had a fantastic time (luckily both girls speak very good English as well). At the end of the night, it was hard enough for the others to say goodbye, but I almost lost it – it was the last time I will see them for the foreseeable future. Time to start planning the next international trip….
Sunday, as per usual, was a pretty chill day in Besançon. Most stores were closed, which gave everybody a chance to just wander around and try to get their bearings. We took the opportunity to run to the grocery store to build ourselves a little picnic, anticipating a peaceful afternoon in the park. We walked along the river path, and just as we rounded the bend, we were met by a mob of runners preparing for a color run that was going to start soon. But we did manage to find a quiet patch of grass out of the splash zone, where we set up camp. So we were able to spend the next hour or so gnawing on baguettes and comté and watching people run by covered in green dye.
All in all, Sunday turned out to be less that quiet; the remainder of the day was spent in traversing downtown, pointing out my various class buildings, favorite cafés, and other little landmarks of my life in Besançon. I wanted to take everyone to get crêpes from the grumpy man in the gazebo at the Place Granvelle, and when we arrived at the Place, we were met yet again by an unexpected crowd. Apparently, there was a big art fair taking place, with spectacular pottery from all over the country. Unfortunately, world travelers with limited luggage space are probably the least likely to impulse-buy ceramics, but we enjoyed walking around and appreciating it!
On Monday, Ben and Chelsea split off from the group to head to Munich to continue their international adventures in a country that eats a lot less cheese. Following their departure, we spent the remainder of the day shopping and wandering around taking pictures of everything. Mom was especially enchanted by the centre-ville, with its old buildings, grand places, and smooth granite sidewalks. And Dad followed about 15 feet behind us, taking pictures of all of the doorways once he discovered that they often opened up onto charming little courtyards.
For dinner, we settled onto a cozy restaurant terrace in the shade of one of the churches. Eva, true to form, ordered the cheesiest possible menu item, while Mom and Dad opted for the exotic salmon ravioli. I was in panic mode. Since it was my last day to eat tartiflette, I just stuck with this tried and true favorite.
Tuesday was our touristy day – the churches were open, so we went into as many as possible! Cavernous, gray, and spectacularly ancient, it will come as no surprise to many of you that our family was able to spend the better part of the morning hanging out in these awesome structures.
But the afternoon had been reserved – much to Eva’s chagrin – for the nine hour climb up to the citadel/museum/zoo. We left Dad down on the ground with the sheep and wallabies, while the rest of us climbed up onto one of the ramparts to take in the view of the valley.
But the main draw to the citadel was the Museum of the Resistance and Deportation, which Mom really wanted to see. It’s a good thing that all of the captions were in French – otherwise, we would have been there for two days! Everyone was impressed with the breadth of artifacts and the amazing stories of courage and sacrifice.
Luckily for Eva, though, we were on a tight schedule. We had to get back downtown for our last dinner date, this time with my Besançon Buddy, Théo. To go out with a bang, we had decided on a restaurant specializing in regional cuisine. The outdoor seating for this tiny, charming café consisted of only a handful of tables, all served by the friendliest and most engaging server, who turned out to also be the owner. Everyone was impressed by the wonderful food that I have been eating these past months, and I experienced a moment of deep sadness as I ate my last bites of oven-baked potatoes smothered in Morbier.
Dinner lasted about four hours, while Mom grilled Théo over a number of sujects, ranging from handball to WWII to his pet rats. He pleasantly obliged, hopefully enjoying the opportunity to practice a bit of English. Théo was the last of my Besançon friends to whom I had to say goodbye. Though we hadn’t had a whole lot of time to hang out over the course of the year, I am so grateful for all of his help!
And of course, we had to wake up at 4:30 this morning to catch our train to Tours. It’s probably a good thing that I was only half awake when we left, because I was really not ready to leave for good.
We are now enjoying Tours, and looking forward to a week worth of adventures that will be posted in due time!