Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wrung out around Paris, and on to France, Belgium, Germany

Day 2It was difficult to tear away from our hosts this morning, but we’ve got another 7.5 hours of road-trippin’ ahead of us and a desire to avoid the heavily trafficked times around Paris and our destination. There was about 50-60km of roads through densely connected villages to negotiate before I took the first toll-road entrance ticket and started zooming Paris-ward.
The Parisian outer ring-roads must be some foretaste of hell – like driving on Parisian streets but at breakneck speed and in competition with multiple lanes of traffic. Vehicles pulled out in front of us without warning, tailgated aggressively and only reluctantly allowed us to switch lanes to exit to another level of the game. As I said, just like on Parisian streets, just at three to five times the speed.

It seemed to go on and on, eyes nervously twitching between road, rear mirrors and GPS screen. It seemed as if the road never curved around Paris but was built up of a series of interwoven tangents, accelerating us like some poor hadron under the Swiss countryside. For all I could tell, we may have accelerated around Paris multiple times before gaining after energy or karma points to shoot off in the direction of Lille, Belgium and finally Germany.
Parc Asterix
I did get a wee bit excited when I saw the signs for Parc Asterix off to the right, but knew that any any love of the books might be ruined by spending even ten minutes of a grey school-holiday Wednesday on its grounds.

The road-signs after that were scarcely as interesting: the Gaulish village is not followed by Roman encampments of Laudanum, Compendium, Totorum et al, but by endless places with European treaties named after them, or sad reminders of battles on fields long gone.
I recall Bondi’s first stop in Belgium had been at a petrol station as we sped across it between Calais and Amsterdam. Munson at least got a bit of a walk around at some forlorn-looking roadside services area before we continued on. There is definitely a great dip in the quality of these places between France and Germany!
Spooky clowns  Munson stopped for a long Pooh

It started pissing down rain on the last stretch into Germany, but at least we weren’t too long delayed by the start of Cologne’s rush hour and settled into cheap but clean and comfortable hotel room in  suburban Holweide (two nights of which would cost us less than a short Danish ferry trip!).

I took Munson out for a long walk along the commercial strip, I guess for a kilometre or so and then returned along the other side of the road. It was difficult to size up the neighbourhood based on its quotient of hairdressers, spooky clowns and other sights, but everyone was smiling and polite, and no one asked if Munson was a werewolf (as far as I could tell).

Munson at Burger King 
I couldn’t see any obvious place to eat out, and really just wanted to take something back to our room and flake out. There was a Burger King across the road which seemed to lie on the path of least resistance. “Seemed” because I hadn’t ventured into a BK in over a decade, having had two successive bouts of food poisoning from two successive visits to their establishments in the USA and Australia.

As I approached the entrance, I dodged a family with a yappy little dog and realised that they had brought the dog out of the restaurant. So I nonchalantly walked in with Munson and went up to the counter. To my relief, I didn’t have a minimum-wage molecular gastronomer leap the counter and spatter me with indignant foam for having dared enter their Michelin star-in-waiting establishment with a filthy animal. Instead the nice people a) got their tin of special dog-treats, and then b) switched gracefully into English to take my order.

There were two other dogs in there at the time, but they ignored Munson, pretty much like the response he gets from other dogs in English pubs. And no we didn’t get sick. For those keeping tally, that’s two visits to places that don’t accept dogs where I got sick, and one visit to a dog-welcoming establishment where I didn’t.

Tomorrow is a break from the road. Bondi conquered East Germany, and now it’s Munson’s turn to take control of the West.

1 comment:

  1. I wish the US was more animal friendly in it's restaurants like the Europe is. These stuffy people here are so germophobic!

    Glad you didn't get sick! Did Munson get a cheeseburger?



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