Last weekend my parents, maggie, jon and I packed our bags for a weekend in the country. We took the train to Tours in Loire Valley, and from there, rented a car and drove 45 minutes to our hotel, just outside a little town called Amboise. I should pause here and admit that we did not drive immediately to Amboise. You see on the train I realized I had forgotten my knitting, and my mom, thank goodness, is even more of a fiberholic/knitter than I am. So she looked up Loire Valley and knitting on her phone and quickly found a yarn shop in downtown Tours. My dad grumbled and rolled his eyes but after a bit of pleading he agreed to stop.
We had just found a parking garage near the yarn shop when we encountered a small problem: we could not get the car to go into reverse. So after a couple minutes of dad trying, my mom got out of the backseat, and stepped into the front to try. By this point we had stopped a bit of traffic and the parking attendant had walked towards our car to see what was the matter. My mother was trying (unsuccessfully) to get the gear to shift to reverse, jerking and jostling the stick shift. the parking attendant was peering around at us. We were stuck and not sure if we were going to have the push the car to back it up, so we asked the attendant if he would please give it a try.
I wish you could see the type of communication that took place here. Jon asked in french if he would help us, while my mom and I signalled with large arm gestures for him to come towards us. Its not a surprise that he entered the car with some trepidation.
We must have seemed crazy. Some mix between National Lampoon vacation and Faulty Towers perhaps, but he stepped into the car of crazy strangers and swiftly shifted the gear to reverse. We laughed and thanked him, and he nodded quietly, retreating to his office.
Now I don't know how to drive a stick shift car, but apparently there is some secret to shifting to reverse in a citroen and we did not know it. Well we got out, had an interesting lunch, and then successfully found yarn in Boite a Laine.That would have been the end of our time in Tours but we were fated to have one more encounter with the parking attendant. You see we realized as we were returning to our car that we had lost our parking ticket, and so Jon had to go explain this to him, thus confirming in the parking attendants mind that we (and perhaps all americans) were crazy. Meanwhile we sat cracking up in the car, laughing almost to the point of tears. It was a good start to a trip.
It was a much needed get away from city life--fall colors, a chill in the air, horses, chateaus, bike rides through the country, a walk in the woods, and ahhh, a big (HOT!!) bathtub.