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[Entry 28] "Better than a sandwich in a truckstop."

27 December 201012:56AMepic-triptravel

I suggest you read the previous post before this one, even though they're posted on the same day. It does make more sense like that, as much as anything in this blog makes sense. :)

Things don't always go according to plan. For example, today. The original plan was to go to a town called Saulieu. It's off the Autoroute (so we could pay less), and according to the guidebook, is, and I quote, a "shrine of Burgundian cooking. Yet there is more to Saulieu than [french dish names]. The Romanesque Basilique de St-Androche, built in the early 12th century..." and so on. Sounds like quite an interesting place, right?

The guidebook lied. Bad guidebook.

Saulieu is actually a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. It has none of the charm of somewhere like Annecy- instead of being 'picturesque' or 'rustic', it just looks old. There were no hotels open. There is a road that runs through town, parallel to the Autoroute, with traffic everywhere of people going on holidays, and yet there were no hotels open. What kind of madness is that? Oh, and for this so-called shine of Burgundian cooking there were no restaurants open either. Actually, I lie. There was one hotel/restaurant open. They wanted 75 Euros for a meal and 270 for a room. Yeaaaaah... no thanks. There is a very nice bar (no food, mind) which sold us some very reasonably priced coffee and hot chocolate and the bartender there leveraged his motley crowd of locals to ask about hotels. All the ones they reccomended we'd already visited, and were very closed. Right.

So we got back on the road, fully expecting to sleep in the car or worse, get back on the Autoroute with the sole purpose of sleeping in a Formule 1 (a chain motel which springs up like a fungus along motorways). When it came to the crunch of actually buying another ticket, though, we thought we'd give the next town a shot, because sleeping in the car would be the same anywhere, right? Plus, we were planning to visit there the next day anyway. So we punched Semur en Auxois into the really annoying GPS, and headed down there.

This was decidedly not a mistake.

The clue is in the name. The 'mur' in Semur presumably means walls (the GPS had some other Semurs in different parts of the country, which confirms that this is a description rather than a name). Auxois is basically a walled city, in other words. The walls are big and old and beautiful and theres a little winding road leading up to them. This is pretty much what the guidebook said, which is why we were planning to visit anyway. And, lo and behold, if the first thing we see when we drive into town isn't our old friend, the two-star hotel. This one probably deserves at least double that. The rooms are gigantic and really new, and it has a bathroom with an actual bath and a shower, not just the progressively smaller showers we've been getting over the last few days. We went out and found an excellent restaurant, which sold pizza, with - get this - snails on. We had one of those. I reassert my claim that snails just taste like rubber covered in garlic, although as a pizza topping, they work surprisingly well.

Oh my.

"Waiter, there's a snail on my pizza".

OM NOM NOM.

Today's events are thus responsible for our new saying: "Better than a sandwich at a truckstop", meaning "Anything is preferable to having to dine on sandwiches and then sleep in the car at a truckstop on the autoroute." It's a pretty literal saying, actually.

Tomorrow, I think we'll visit the next town in the guidebook, for the reason that it's next to the mountain where Julius Caesar defeated Vercingetorix, King of all the Gauls, which was pretty much the highlight of Ancient History in year 11 (actually no, that would be the Civil War (Go team Pompey!) but I digress). So I'm going to drag Dad up there for a bit tomorrow after we look around this "charming surprise on an otherwise uneventful road."

That'll do, guidebook, that'll do.

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