Much like the last time I landed early at Paris CDG and then took the train to Angers, despite 2.3 hours to wait, I still just had a minute to spare getting to the right place on the train. But that is another story.
I wish I could take the TGV from Austin to Paris.
Arrival in Angers. It is always a delight.
It was time to find my apartment rental. This was the first time I was opting for the apartment route in Angers, which is the route I almost always take in Paris. Outside of the bigger cities, the vacation rental ritual, however, is not nearly as organized. I still love the idea; it compels one to explore a different part of the city and be part of a real neighborhood. But I will ask more questions next time I rent in less robust rental markets.
I finally find the apartment, only after the kind landlord had been waiting a long time. I got a tour. These 1800s tile floors are lovely. There is an upstairs, where the bedroom and bathroom are.
She tells me one of the most important things for a renter in a new neighborhood: where to shop for foodstuffs. She shows me where to go. Then I ask THE most important question, which always gives me heartburn for an apartment rental: the wifi. The internet access. I ask where the code is. It is written in those tiny black letters on the "Livebox" under the bed. Ok. Ignore bad feeling. Try to.
As soon as she leaves I try to get all my devices fired up and connected to that code. No go. Off and on for the devices. I do all the usual tricks, to no avail. I email her for troubleshooting tips for this particular moden and router. None. For the Paris apartment landlords who rent to travelers, there are usually very detailed instructions on this. Here, I was on my own I realized. Then I also realize, with some horror, another pitfall of renting in an area that does not see a lot of foreign travelers but mostly French travelers: there is no blow dryer. The landlord confirms this (I emailed her again).
I decide that in addition to wine, of course, and bread, of course -- and cheese and fruit -- I will need to add to my list a blow dryer and an ethernet or whatever cord that is. I decide I will connect the laptop directly to the box.
The good thing about the smaller pace of life in a small town is the fact it is a small town. The bad thing is that it is a small town. There is no Monoprix around the corner. I have no idea how I will find a blow dryer. By some miracle, I remain good-humoured about all this, but all the while I am having to use more and more of that expensive data plan just to check email.
I bought some overly beautiful vegetables here. Also purchased some angevin wine. Almost went for many other items - fig preserves, honey candies (honey much lauded for health benefits). I randomly settle on carrots, apples, bananas. I am tired, keep in mind.
Time for bread. This Boulangerie looks nice. And yes, the nice lady explains to me that I am correct the l'Epautine ? is more rustic, like a pain de campagne. I take it.
Next stop the regular little grocery store, a tiny tiny Carrefour. Because the other very important thing about the apartment rental is to figure out the cofffee: Do I have to buy coffee? Do I have to buy filters? I was there to buy coffee.
I am hopeful, maybe, maybe they have a blow dryer? Cord for the Livebox? Silly to hope. I ask at checkout if they have some, maybe, but then have to ask, of course, where could I get one. He points me down the street, a 15-20 minute walk. I cannot go to meeting the next day with head of bio science international program with wet hair. I march on. And on. And on. I finally see a faint light for a large commercial area. Buried back in the center is the "Super U" - this looks promising. It is a brightly lit tacky combination of Walmart and Target and a grocery store. I look and look. I almost give up. I finally find a hair dryer.
As for the cord, I find a section with some technology gadgets, ear buds and HDMI cords. But not what I wanted. I am so anxious for internet access I ask the lady at the welcome desk for help, not knowing the exact word in French for what I needed. She says would I mind waiting just a bit; her colleague is much better at these things than she is. Sure, I'll wait.
I don't really believe her, actually. But I wait. And wait. I left to go look again for myself, when he showed up and asked if I was the lady looking for that cord. Yes! He thought it was an HDMI cord, but no, finally I explain what it is I need: to connect the laptop to the LiveBox modem/router. He is totally on it.
He says: I don't have one in stock here, but you know, I think I have an old one you can use. I am not sure I understand him correctly. But sure enough: he comes up with the exact thing I was looking for. He wraps it up. He says no charge. Just take it.
Seriously?? Yes, of course. We French, "on offre." We get the blow dryer purchased. I am warm and fuzzy inside at this kindness.
At 5:30 pm it is now very dark. And chilly. And it is really drizzling. I walk home in the drizzle. No worries. I have a blow dryer.
I start in on the internet issue using the cord from the dear man at the brightly lit mass market industrial store. I try and try. I turn off and on the laptop. I turn the modem/router off and on, just like at home, by unplugging it.
No go, but then, suddenly, something worked. The wireless was working. It started working, connecting to the Internet finally, as I was trying to get the cord to work.
The lovely wine tasted even better after that.
Tomorrow: figuring out the coffee machine.