Bonjour, faithful readers. I am currently sitting in Beaune, France. We were here in this same gite (holiday home) a week ago, when we were on our way to Nimes to see my friend, Audra. Now we’re on our way back to Germany, and I have arranged to stay at the same house until tomorrow morning, provided we can get out of here due to a misfortune we encountered yesterday at a rest stop. More on that later. For now, I want to start at the beginning and explain how it was that we’ve had a “French Christmas”.
Audra is American, and we met back in 1987, when we were students at Gloucester High School in Gloucester, Virginia. We both had the same journalism and world history classes during the 1987-88 school year. When we met, I was fifteen and she was fourteen. We got to be friendly in journalism class, since it was a course that required collaboration.
It wasn’t just school that brought us together. Our dads were friends back in the day. Both were Air Force veterans who participated in singing groups in Gloucester. Audra and I are also both graduates of Longwood College, now known as Longwood University, in Farmville, Virginia. We didn’t run in the same crowd when we were at Longwood, so it’s only been within the past ten years ago, through Facebook, that we’ve become closer.
Back in May 2014, Bill and I took our third military “hop” from Baltimore, Maryland. He was on “terminal leave” from the Army, just before he retired. We landed at Ramstein and decided to travel through France by train. On that trip, which I’ve chronicled in this blog, we visited Reims, Dijon, a suburb of Lyon, Nimes, and Nice. Then we flew from Nice to Frankfurt, took a quick trip to the Rhein, and flew from Ramstein back to the States. You can find the story of that trip by searching the blog, although I haven’t yet gotten around to reformatting it since I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress. I will fix those posts when I get home to my desktop computer. When they’re fixed, I’ll link them to this post.
We visited Audra, her then boyfriend, Cyril, and Audra’s kids during that 2014 trip. A few weeks after we got back to Texas, where we were living at the time, Bill got a job in Stuttgart, Germany. We moved back to Europe, and ever since then, Audra and I were hoping to arrange another rendezvous. A few months ago, she and Cyril, who is now her husband, invited us to spend Christmas with them. They even invited our dog, Arran.
Originally, the plan was that we’d stay at their house, since two of Audra’s children were visiting their dad. But since Audra has cats and Bill is allergic, and Arran loves to harass cats, we decided to book another gite in Nimes. Beaune, which is where I am right now, is roughly halfway between Nimes and Wiesbaden. It’s actually slightly closer to Nimes. I had originally tried to find another gite in a different city, but had difficulty finding one that offered what we wanted and was pet friendly. So here we are, once again, at Au Miracle du Pain Doré, a charming apartment within walking distance of Beaune’s lovely center.
Today’s plan was, originally, to go into town and purchase some wine to bring back to Wiesbaden with us. Unfortunately, we were victimized at the rest stop at the northbound rest stop heading into Beaune. We had stopped so I could pee and we could let our hosts know that we were almost at our destination. During what was intended to be a short stop, a lowlife criminal gouged a hole in one of our tires. So, instead of wine shopping and wrapping up what was a mostly wonderful trip to France, Bill is making a police report and trying to come up with a way to fix our car so that it will get us back to Germany. He did manage to get the tire patched, which makes me a bit nervous, since the gouge was on the sidewall. But the other option is to have the car towed home, since the local tire shop did not have the size we need and we can’t drive it with the “donut” tire spare. The closer we get to Germany, the better… I just hope we don’t have a blowout and cause an accident.
I’m pretty sure the asshole who punctured our tire was hoping to relieve us of our dirty underwear. Unfortunately, this scam is rampant in Europe. Pirates linger near high speed roads and damage motorists’ tires, then offer “help” while an accomplice steals purses, electronics, and whatever else they can find. They target tourists, especially those in rental cars. Tourists are more likely to be unfamiliar with the area, loaded with cash and valuables, and eager to accept “friendly” help. They’re also less likely to make police reports and press charges.
We were not robbed yesterday. I think the would-be crook was spooked when I stayed in the car with Arran and Bill got on the phone with ADAC, one of Germany’s auto clubs. He lingered for a moment, then vanished once Bill gave him the stink-eye. Still, he and his maggot accomplice managed to ruin a perfectly good tire that has only been on the car since July, when it was built in Sweden. And though he’s given me a new life experience and a good story for this blog, I am actually a bit concerned about our safety tomorrow. If it weren’t going to be a Sunday, I think we’d wait and try to get a new tire. If you’re the praying type and you don’t mind, please offer up a few kind words for us.