Friday, May 25, 2012

Return to Fumel, and Leaving Fumel for Austria

05/19, Saturday
The weatherman was wrong! It is a beautiful day.

After b'fast at our hotel in Perigeux, we head to the Roman Museum passing through town...about a 20 minute walk that we turn into 50. That leaves only 45 minutes to learn about the 2nd century Roman settlement here named Vesunna. There are plenty of artifacts and the remains of a 4500 sq meter home. The town was only discovered 60 years ago. Very highly sophisticated engineering used including floor heating, solar heating, water pumps, and aqueducts. Amazing !

As we wait to leave Perigeux in the train station, it is raining, but we are dry. A woman helped us get the right bus to the Gare and we have an hour before departure.

Had a leisurely lunch,consisting of large salads, on the square and then another look inside the cathedral before picking up our luggage.

Our train arrived in Marsempron-Libos exactly at 19:05 where John and Madeleine picked us up. We made a quick change of clothes at the apartment and left for dinner and a jazz concert in Lacapelle-Biron. We were entertained by a six-man jazz band, the AriJazz, at Le Palissy chez Norbert bar-restaurant.

Both the dinner and the entertainment were very good. The menu included Soupe de Clams et Crabes, Filet d'Asturgeon aux Epices, Purée de Patates douce et Coco Champignons aux Herbes, and Fraises au Rhum et Menthe Poivée. Doesn't that sound good? The band played lots of New Orleans jazz and American favorites: Duke Ellington's "Caravan", "Sunny Side of the Street", "St. Louis Blues", and "Bye-Bye Blues". They played until 11:00pm.

Mom put some wash in before bed to get cleaned up from our 2-week jaunt.

05/20, Sunday, Laura's Birthday, Matt & Lizzy's Anniversary
Brief shopping at the Sunday market in Fumel. Lunch at A Gong, a Vietnamese restaurant in Fumel.

Then, a return trip to the Iris Farm. J&M had taken us there our first week in France, but it was too early for any flowers to be in bloom. Today, while it's raining, the irises are in full bloom...there must be 50-75 varieties. What a beautiful sight!

From there, we're off to hear a student piano concert. The venue is an old stone monastery, now privately owned, used for recitals. The two pianists are 3rd and 4th year conservatory students from Saint Sebastian, Spain. Each performer played for about 45 minutes, no sheet music for reminder, only short breaks between each piece. They were both very skilled and professional. Composers included Liszt, Chopin, Ravel, Franck.

Last on our schedule for today, Madeleine prepared dinner of duck breast and salad of endive and mushroom. Delicious as always!

05/21, Monday
This morning we made reservations for a hotel for one night in Vienna (Wien in Austria). After that, we will be hosted by Cousin Jack's friends Lukas and Karin Mayerhofer who live there.

J&M assisted us with getting train tickets to Bordeaux for Wednesday. We, also, had a superb lunch at a new Tea Salon in Fumel, Choc O Lot, kind of a play on words because of their delicious chocolates (and other desserts), and because they're located near the Lot River.

With Madeleine, we watched a 60 Minutes segment about Harmony Schools, charter schools "sponsored" by a wealthy Turk named Gulen. The schools are very effective, but the segment raised some questions about the motives of Mr. Gulen. Most of the schools are in Texas (known as Harmony), there are others, including the Math and Science Academy in Chicago, in 25 other states that are part of Gulen Charter Schools.

05/22, Tuesday
Our last full day in France. We will pack up for our next adventure in Austria today so we can be ready to leave at 7:00.

Madeleine and John invited us for our final lunch together at home. A delicious duck cassolet (using duck confit) with white beans and a mild sausage, and John's carrot cake with caramel ice cream. Toooo Gooood! No dinner necessary tonight.

Madeleine has a 14:00 French student, Bjorn from Sweden. And, we have more final things to pack and errands in town. We all took an hour walk through town this evening at 8:00, and said "good byes" to Madeleine. We will see John at 7:20am when he takes us to the train station. And, they will be coming to Chicago in November to visit John's daughter and celebrate his 80th birthday.

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