Saturday, May 30, 2009



We wake from our fitful sleep to a very humid room. Of course, as soon as we open the window the room cools down nicely while we load the car. It is breezy, cloudy and cold this morning and it looks like rain. We plan to have a Big Mac breakfast again since there is one on our way out of town. As we pull up, it looks empty. The door says closed for repainting! We are off to a great start today!

OK, we head toward Chartres on a local road. We want to see more of the Loire Valley and the famous Cathedral in Chartres. The sky is a mass of stormy dark clouds

as we drive through the lush green farmland along the Loire River. There are wonderful old farm compounds and small villages dotting the fields of ripening wheat. At one point in a small village, we see the delivery truck for the local patisserie stop and honk at the front gate of one of the homes. An aproned woman dashes out and gets her breads as we drive by.
It is drizzling off and on as we get to Chartres, but not enough to ruin the day. We are getting better at getting around now. Dick sets the GPS for the Cathedral parking lot and we drive right there with no problem. There are plenty of spaces and it is about a block from the Cathedral. Too bad all the towns have not been this easy. Many pilgrims came to Chartes during the Middle Ages to see the Cathedral treasure, the Veil of the Virgin, supposedly worn by Mary and housed in the Apsidal Chapel.The Cathedral is fabulous and well worth seeing!It is known for its beautiful 12th and 13th century stained glass windows that illustrate Biblical stories and daily life during the 13th century.The Cathedral was built in the mid 1100’s, heavily damaged by a fire in 1194 and rebuilt. The Blue Virgin and Babe is a section of stained glass that survived the 1194 fire and is now incorporated into a stained glass window built in the early 1200’s.Most of the stained glass windows were done between 1210 and 1240. They were carefully dismantled piece by piece during both world wars to protect them.We spend a little over an hour at the church,then walk around the outside and buy some lunch. Our only SNAFU is finding the car again in the double spiral-parking garage. It all starts when we take the wrong elevator down to the floor that the car is supposed to be on and goes downhill from there. Well we do find the car, finally. Driving out of town, we are treated to a grand view of the city and the Cathedral before getting on the motor way and heading to Belgium and Waterloo.

The afternoon continues to be cloudy and cold with rain off and on. Our drive though the Loire Valley is very nice.We get to Paris about 3:30PM. Our route to Waterloo takes us right through downtown Paris. Fortunately, with the GPS we have no problem and are soon in the beautiful rolling hills north of Paris. This is the area of France that was so devastated during WWI. As we cross the Somme River, just east of Albert, it is hard to believe that less than 100 years ago this beautiful, pastoral land was a muddy, bloody killing field.

We get to Waterloo and the Lion Hill monument about 5:30PM and stop to check out what there is to do. It has been 25 years since we were here and Dick wants to explore the battlefield, if possible. He is in luck! They now have a lorry ride with commentary so that is what he will do in the morning.

We now check out two of the GPS listings for rooms that are close by. The second one Hotel le Jodi Bois is a winner. It is a small hotel with a small but clean room overlooking a nice back garden in a residential area in the village of Waterloo. Best of all, it is €100 a night with breakfast and free internet access! The owner also recommends an Italian restaurant up the street. We have a great meal, one of the best of nearly five months of travel, for only €56, including a great bottle of Italian wine from Montepulchiano.

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