I arrived here yesterday, having decided that my other foot was too sore to walk on and hitching from Corbeny. My second ride was with an elderly man who was a teacher - couldn't work out of what though, and a violinist. He was driving from Laon to attend Mass - but not at the cathédrale, instead it was a traditional mass somewhere else. Not sure what the meant, as I would have thought the Cathedral would have been pretty traditional - maybe it was a Latin Mass somewhere.
He dropped me at the oustskirts of the city where I got bailed up by a couple chatting at the lights. They wanted to hear the ins and outs of what I was doing and then Madame counted the number of stops I would have to go through and issued instructions for me to catch the tram. She stood and watched to make sure I did - all well and good, but then I had to figure out how to buy a ticket! Again, a helpful man came to my rescue, and so made it into town.
Because I was so early I decided to go to the Temple! Temple is another name for the Prostestant Church. All the hymns were ones I knew but couldn't sing because they were in French - I "oo"d instead! Here I managed to have a long conversation in English with several people. One english woman was insting that she was living and working in "Reems" - she still hadn't managed to make an attempt at saying "Rance" - which is at least what I try and do. I mentioned somewhere previously that I was communicating in "pidgin" French - but a man at the church told me that he spoke "kitchen" english - maybe that is what I am doing with the french!
Reims Cathédrale has had a checquered history. As opposed to the Cathédrale in Laon which only took 30 years to build, this one took a couple of centuries. A lot of it was destroyed in the war, and a fire also comes into the story. I read somewhere that there are holes in pillars (looked, but couldn't find them) where explosives were set for the building to be destroyed when the french soldiers were coming into the city. They, however, managed to cut the wires /detonators and stopped the building falling into ruins.
Laon Cathédral only took 30 years to build, as opposed to-
Reims, which took several centuries!
Because of this history there is a stange mix of old and dirty, and clean and cream! This is as a result of the rebuilding that took place after the war. The emblem of the city is the smiling angel. She really is gorgeous. Amien has the crying angel, Reims the smiling one!
In Saint Quentin Marjory at the tourist office told me of a South Korean pèlerin (pilgrim). Since then I have felt quite comforted that there is someone else on the way. Our paths haven't crossed, and unless he was doing what I was and resting he was about 8 kms off the path, thus I assume he has a different guide book and that he might be walking a slightly different way than me. Yesterday though, was different. As I was leaving the Cathédrale I saw the pilgrim desk and there were THREE pelerins - all going to Rome. An unlikely trio I might add - a French woman, a Dutch woman, and an Italian man. None of them had a language in common and so I am not too keen to add a fourth in the melting pot - but it means that I am no longer alone!
The "friends" that I found on the ground in Saint Quentin!
Of course I could do nothing but see where they came from and where they went!