My next closest sibling decided my trip here was just the excuse he needed to visit France again. My brother was mentioned (and shown with slightly more hair) in an earlier post. He has been to France multiple times as an adult and speaks far better French than I do. I was looking forward to having someone to share my experiences with but also to letting someone else do the speaking parts for a few days.

He was scheduled to leave the US on a Friday afternoon and arrive in Paris on Saturday morning. However Mother Nature decided this would be a good time to dump a bunch of snow on Chicago and disrupt air transport for all of North America. He actually made it onto a plane in Kansas City and they even taxied away from the gate, but after sitting immobile for three hours the plane taxied back and that was that. Chicago was not accepting any incoming flights.

As usual the airline was of no help and scheduled him for two more days out, but since his entire trip was for less than a week to begin with that wasn’t going to leave much relaxing time. Instead he arranged his own new itinerary, getting up on Saturday morning before dawn and driving for hours through blizzard conditions to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he finally managed to get a connection to Chicago, after only about 6 more hours of delays. He arrived in Paris on Sunday morning after a full measure of the kind of peaceful rest you can only get from travelling internationally.

Meanwhile I was busily occupied getting ready, cleaning the apartment, getting groceries, and doing laundry. While ironing a shirt my iron briefly fell off my tipsy Carrefour ironing board and touched my comforter. This is when I discovered my comforter is actually made of plastic.

Couette de feu

And it is also not actually “my” comforter, it belongs to the apartment. So I can see that we will need to be learning some new creative vocabulary to explain that one.

Anyway, I know travel delays and burnt blankets are relatively minor setbacks in the course of life. I mention them only because we had no other actual disasters occur during the entire week, which I think is a family record going back for several generations. Good for us, but I apologize in advance if the rest of these posts are consequently boring. Nothing is more exciting than the suffering of others, but that is all the suffering I have to share for the moment.

An expert now at the Paris train system, and having bought tickets in advance, I met my brother at the airport and had him back to Amiens in hardly more than 2 hours. Rested as he was after his leisurely voyage across the globe, we decided to take the tower tour at the Amiens cathedral. I had already tried to take this tour several times before but for reasons that escaped my French comprehension I was always turned away, on one occasion right after the lady at the billetterie sold tickets to several people directly in front of me (including a couple who pulled the old French trick of cutting in line right when it was finally my turn at the counter). I started to wonder if the woman at the ticket office just didn’t like me, but with my brother’s language skills we waltzed right into the tour group without problem.

The tour was unguided and barely even chaperoned. I was surprised at the liberty they gave us, but they opened a locked door on the southern tower and said “go up, wander around, spend as much time as you want, and come back down the north tower when you’re done.” Can’t beat that.

Back down

Sadly the tour did not include any of the upper areas on the inside of the cathedral, such as the walkway along the triforium, or the attic above the mysterious trapdoor in the ceiling:

Trapdoor

But you can see some of these other fascinating areas in YouTube videos such as this one:

So ended day one. Being Sunday there was not much open and we were too tired to go out anyway so we opted to have Pizza Hut for dinner, delivered by a guy on a bicycle. And yes I know, eating American food in France is cheating, but I have decided that French Pizza Hut is not technically cheating: not when it comes with fromage à raclette, lardon, crème fraîche légère; is baked in a fondue pot; and is named something like Le Montagnarde. Try getting that in America!

And yes, it is delicious.