April 23-25, 2000
Walking off the train, I also got a feeling about this town, but it was a colder feeling. Not an unfriendly cold, or a chilling cold, but one that says, this is a place that might just be a tasteless gray city.
It's Easter weekend, so it's even more toned down with all the shops closed Friday to Monday (they have Monday off here). It's lacking the traffic to make it a city. There are buildings, but no people, like the business districts in New England after hours or the whole city of Boston after the public transportation has shut down for the night. But it appears to be like this all the time here.
None-the-less I've come here for business, but can't find a store open that sells (mens) pants, as mine have been well marked with dirt and blood from the adventure downhill in the Pyranees.
The taxi service and hostel management particularly reek with incompetence and I move into a back street hotel after one night that provides access to a laundry room. Unfortunately they've loaned out the key and the fellow locked the doors and can't be found. My private sink and shower get a good rinse as my pants go through a restoration process of hand washing.
Hours later, the key is still missing, so I start my search in the streets for a launderette to dry my bag of clothes... I had washed everything, save what I was wearing, which wasn't much.
Swishy travel pants, sandals, and a t-shirt, I'm off into the drizzle with a bag of drippy clothes, not to be out done by circumstance. The alternative was to wait around for the key while worrying about how bad things will go having wet underwear tomorrow or to write the whole thing off and blame my failure completely on the fact that Nantes takes Monday off for Easter.
I found a place about a mile away, got my clothes dry and wore a (now very clean) sweater the next day that came just low enough to cover most of the battle damage on the khaki Dockers.
The next day I cleaned my "make me look smart" glasses and headed out. The meeting went quite well. 8)
8) = :) wearing specs