The further adventures of Mission of Burma.
Fri, Dec. 7th: Channel crossing + Reims, Fr.
We drive to the Ferry in Dover and boat across to Calais, FR. Drive some more. After we checked into the hotel outside of Reims, we wisely decided to go into town for dinner and possible sight-seeing….
It’s France, after all, so we had a totally pleasant dinner with a bottle of wine (even if we were put upstairs to keep the American riff-raff away from the regular diners and Clint had to pester to get a garcon).
Afterwards we went downstairs to pay and that’s when things took a turn for the weird. As I was pleasantly watching Jimmy hand over a credit card I felt a knock on my back and now there was a shattered egg on the floor by my feet that someone had clearly just thrown. And what I took to be a waiter was suddenly in my face speaking very fast excessively chipper English. I was certain I’d been assaulted, and this guy was yelling, and no one could figure out why an egg would come flying out of the kitchen at me. As we tried to get out in the tumult, they unlocked the door for us – why was the door locked anyways? I was last in line, with this crazy guy barking at me, and they locked and barred the door again! Get me out of here! They blocked the way for the guy, but I managed to squeeze out through a door-crack. We deduced he must have stiffed ‘em on the bill, and one of the chefs chucked an egg at him, not aiming at me (it didn’t actually hit me, it was the guy who slammed my back at that moment).
But these concluding thoughts happened much later, because as soon as we walked out the door there was a 7.5/8.5 foot tall man/woman with a fiercely malicious gleam in his/her eye. (I later thought the torso was normal so there must’ve been stilts involved, but it was pointed out that the knees bent at the correct place, posture-perfect). She harassed Alesh (our driver) with some verbiage he chose not to respond to. Somewhat below this demonic visage was a very very very small human dressed in a santa outfit, with white whiskers sticking out at all angles from his face, a garden gnome brought to life. Clint, to distract himself from The Tall One, turns to Santa and says “Hey St. Nick!” to which St. Nick turns his face, sayeth not a word and scampers off in the opposite direction. It’s midnight, and there is no one else on the street but us and this assortment of Fellini characters. The Tall One follows us for a bit but we managed to disengage, and headed down a dark alley.
Around a corner appeared the stunning vision of the Reims Cathedral (begun in the late 1200′s). Really stunning. Tall, very. Layer upon layer. Even Bob was pretty impressed, and he is even more averse to organized religion than I am. It made me think that before the Renaissance and the advent of science, this was all people had. Just as Bob was ready to dismiss this collection of smoothed rock, demons, saints and madonnas, the light-show came on. First they projected an exact photo of the cathedral onto the cathedral, which ramped up the layered effect many more notches, like some eye-ball hallucination variant from many years ago. None of us could move, affixed to the scene. Then the computer-graphics “painted” the arcs and pillars one by one, showing off the math of the construction. Even Bob bought into this aspect, the Golden Mean and all that. More image morphing until finally it became more of a modern art piece, and by then we were satiated.
All in all, a very needed and rather perfect night off from rock clubs.