Jan and Ian

People watching


Today we caught a train. Then we caught another one. After that we caught a third one and then we ate lunch. Then we caught a fourth train and arrived in Orleans. That was pretty much it for about seven hours. Nothing much wonderful happened and nothing horrible happened. We had to coordinate the transfers from one trainto the next pretty sharply, but that went rather smoothly too, so basically we travelled from St. Malo to Orleans and arrived safely… Then it got interesting!
After wandering down to the Loire to get an idea of which side of the river we should ride tomorrow and visiting Joan of Arc’s statue and local cathedral here in the city of her birth, we decided to drop in at a bar as the evening was drawing in. Over the next two hours we did what all travelers must do whenever they can, we watched. We sipped our beer and ros?? and the true personality of Orleans revealed itself to us. Some chaps walked in to our bar, new instrument cable and drumsticks in hand and soon a pedal steel guitar and standup bass started a country waltz whilst the singer experimented on his lyrics and guitar arrangement. Student and tutor artists sat beside us and opened watercolours and sketchbooks and began to paint faces from the crowd. Customers came and went at the bars and cafes along the cobbles, smoke drifting into the sharp shadows cast by the setting sun. Local “identities” worked the crowd, greeting dozens of passers by with kisses to each cheek or meaningful handshakes. The band segued into a bluesy shuffle and outside the bar packages passed hands, not too openly. Families walked by, faces to the sun, children hand in hand or bravely independent. Wafting hints of dishes being served nearby came to visit for a fleeting moment and then left again, to tempt another hungry worker heading home to an empty dinner table.
The band was on a break, and they hadn’t really started yet. Glasses were emptied and refilled. People drifted away, people drifted by. The Police drove by slowly, regularly, knowingly but weren’t stopping… for now.
We drifted away. We know we don’t know Orleans very well, but for the two hours we watched, we understood one street very well.


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