What would a 45-minute layover at 5am in Ireland be without a fresh pint of Guinness? Not entirely sure, as that’s the first thing that I did upon landing in Dublin. Grandpa O’Malley would be proud. I never believed the people who said Guinness is different in Ireland, but after downing a delicious swill that tasted more like a milkshake than a beer, I think I’ve changed my mind.
After a quick flight to Brussels, my buddy Dan and I grabbed coffee and waffles to go, rented a car, and started out for France. It took us awhile to convince the GPS to stop speaking German (endured about an hour of being instructed to AUSFAHRT at various roads) but figured it out after a loop of the city and a few accidental returns to the airport.
Upon arriving in Reims, I was slightly taken aback by the city’s emptiness even on a Monday afternoon. Later, I discovered that the day was a help-the-elderly fundraiser: a few years back, the French government decided to turn the day from an official bank holiday into a regular workday. The taxes on all wages earned would go to support France’s retirees. Apparently, the idea has yet to catch on – I was told that roughly 80% of citizens take the day off anyway.
Day two brought a fascinating trip to champagne-maker Cattier in the tiny village of Chigny-les-Roses (more on that in an article I’ll be writing sometime in the next few weeks) and some more technological issues. About an hour after setting out for Geneva, I took a wrong turn and instead of directing me back to the highway, the GPS took me (and Dan) on an enjoyable three-hour romp through the French countryside, which seems to boast more cows and churches than even Texas.
At dusk we stopped for dinner in a small town whose name remains elusive, where I was greeted by an inebriated Frenchman who proudly informed me that his English was terrible (an accurate assertion). We spent the rest of the evening scaling the sort of rugged mountain roads you’d expect to find in a James Bond movie, complete with hairpin turns and ill-tempered Peugeot drivers, before arriving in Geneva a little before midnight.
That’s all for now – check back in a few days for the next installment!