The run to Beauvais was very straightforward. In Europe, there is a tendency to name streets with logical names, and I followed the "Rue de Beauvais" the entire length of my trip. Once again, my clothes were damp when I departed, so I walked for about an hour with clothes draped all over me. I ran a little bit less than 20 kilometers, and the tendinitis seemed to be a bit better. I can run and walk now without whimpering.
I arrived in Beauvais a little bit after noon, and coming down a hill I got my first look at the cathedral (Saint Pierre). Before I could visit it though, I spent a half hour trying to find a place that was open on a Sunday morning to find something to drink. I ended up at a classic American franchise (Subway) where I had an Italian BMT and 4 refilled bottles of water.
St. Pierre happens to boast the tallest Gothic choir in the world. It would be amazing were it not plagued with contemporary wood and metal braces due to structural problems. Still though, I spent a good hour tiptoeing around with my head tilted back. From there I headed to Saint Etienne, another Gothic church that I happened to be awake to see a slide for back at Columbia.
Once, I had gotten my architecture fix, I called up a friend of Anna (in Amiens) with whom I might have a place to stay. He answered, but kindly informed me that he was out of town. Awesome. The rest of the day, I wandered around town, through parks and whatnot, pulling myself over third century Roman walls and getting called-out for being in places I wasn't supposed to be. My general technique for finding a place to stay is to wander around aimlessly, kind of looking for anything that resembles shelter, hoping that something just falls in my lap. Hey...it has worked so far.
Well, it didn't really work this time, so come 10 pm when everything was closing I started approaching random strangers. I sat down and had a drink with some girls at the one bar that was open. They ended up being from another town, and only came into Beauvais for the nightlife. Funny, because there is no nightlife in Beauvais on a Sunday night. I then sat with another group of students, and once again had a drink with some very friendly people. The bar rang the bell for last call, and I soon found myself on the street with them. "I know this sounds strange, but does one of you have somewhere for me to sleep?" They came here from Amiens, and were heading back there. Not quite where I wanted to go. After they left, I spent a few minutes trying to speak with the only other person who I saw on the street...who was way too drunk for me to understand. Drunken slurring is bad. Drunken slurring in French is impossible. I bid him adieu and walked around the corner, ready to go back to the cathedral and sleep illegally on the scaffolding that I had been contemplating all day. It was then that I saw the only other living souls in the town, a group of three young students. I approached them with the "this might sound crazy, but..." speech, and to my surprise, they said "why not?" I was floored. It was midnight, and I was sure I would be without a place to stay. Instead, I spent the night talking with a beautiful young geologist, in a house full of awesome geology students. The place was full of posters and stickers with phrases along the line of "Geology, Rocks!!!" Sofi, my host, informed me that the stone from which St Pierre was made (Lutétien) was formed in this region 45 million years ago. The several hundred years of cathedral (which I am amazed by) are really nothing in comparison. Geology really does rock.
16 June 2009