Back to France via Germany

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Yesterday afternoon was hot, 28°C, and it was still hot when we went to bed. We opened as many windows as we could in our attic apartment to catch the little breeze that was blowing and left them open when we went to bed.

Around midnight we were wakened by raindrops coming through the skylight window above our bed. Majella closed it and we went back to sleep. I woke later and found the bathroom floor was wet. Rain had come in there too so I closed that window and checked those in the living room. I didn’t think to check in Callum’s room so it was only when Majella woke him for breakfast at 7 am that we found he had woken, felt his bed was damp, rolled over to the dry side, and slumbered on.

After breakfast Majella did what she could to dry out the wet bathroom dresser and the hairdryer that had been on it and directly below the window. Then she stripped the bed that Callum had slept in and used towels to soak up some of the water but the foam mattress was sodden.

When we were ready to leave we took our gear down to the car and tried to find our host to explain what had happened. Nobody answered so we drove off and I sent an apologetic message via the Airbnb app. I had a response later confirming that he understood. It was an unfortunate accident but we were very embarrassed by the mess we had left.

We had no real need to go to Germany other than to skirt it in going from Switzerland to France via Basel. However, Callum was now on a quest to compare international manifestations of McDonald’s and did not want to let an opportunity pass.

Hence our first destination today was McDonald’s across the border and a little east of Basel at Rheinfelden. We were there soon after 9 am but Callum was disappointed to find only the breakfast menu available until 10 am. Majella suggested we go and see nearby Schloss Beuggen for which we had seen signs. She thought that might fill time until we could return for the full menu.

We found Schloss Beuggen easily enough but it appeared to be more function centre than tourist attraction. There were a couple of people clearing up from an event but nothing else. We looked for a few minutes and then decided to move on to another German McDonald’s I had found on the app earlier.

That was when our navigation problems began. When I attempted to set up Maps there was no internet on my phone. Somehow my travel SIM had not managed to connect to a German network. I tried switching SIM and data of and on with no success.

As navigation backup I had downloaded maps for the areas we expected to travel. I picked a point near where I remembered that McDonald’s being and set navigation for there. works OK but did not display for the driver as well as Maps. It took us a few tries to get onto the road it was indicating as our route. I continued to tinker, looking for connection, as Majella drove but with no luck.

Once we had exited the motorway Majella was able to stop and I restarted my iPhone, hoping that might fix things. I did get enough connection for long enough to locate the nearby McDonald’s. We drove there, Callum ordered his meal, and I used the WiFi to set navigation for our next destination, Besançon. Callum had to wait for his meal so was not impressed by the service but declared the waffle fries the best in their class.

Internet connection stopped again on my phone but the route I had set in McDonald’s took us north along the Rhine, across near Mulhouse, and on the motorway toward Besançon. Not long after we crossed into France I was once again connected to Internet on my phone. So far as I know, my SIM should have worked on roaming in Germany but perhaps it had difficulty finding the appropriate network quickly enough or in that part of Germany.

An hour or so and 2 toll stations later, Majella was getting anxious about fuel. The gauges indicated about a 50 km buffer for Besançon but they can be inaccurate. We left the motorway to go cross country. We found fuel quickly for 20 c less than we had seen it on the motorway and then enjoyed a scenic drive on to Besançon.

We entered Besançon near the citadel and easily found parking near the base adjacent to a row of restaurants. It was approaching 1 pm and more than time for lunch for those who had not eaten at McDonald’s. Majella selected one of the restaurants where she had the small melon and ham salad, I had a Caesar salad with chicken, and Callum had a burger with fries. Majella and I had coffee to finish.

After lunch we still had parking time on our ticket so we walked toward the city for Callum to look for gifts he might buy. We had to walk quite a distance before we found any shops other than a couple of restaurants. When we did find a shop Callum managed to find one thing he wanted to buy. With directions from the man in the shop we found an ATM where I was able to get some more euros in case I needed cash again. By then it was time to go back to the car.

Our accommodation for tonight was an Airbnb at Velars-sur-Ouche, a short distance west of Dijon. Rather than go back on the motorway we set a route via country roads, thinking we might stop to shop in Dijon before checking in. The drive was pleasant, mostly through rolling hills covered in fields of wheat and a sprinkling of interesting villages. We made good time and were approaching Dijon by 4 pm. At that point Majella suggested it would be better to check in and perhaps go back into Dijon later.

The apartment is attached to a house that Majella thought may have had a prior existence as a convent due to the statue in front of the gate and its proximity to the church. It is down a narrow road with access calming devices that had us wondering if we should venture that way. After some digging in the Airbnb app and a short drive around part of the village I found a set of directions that got us here where we could see that the house matched a photo in our Airbnb instructions. There was a parking lot next door so that part was easy. Access was to be by key from a coded box. I could see the box but had no code. A message to our host, David, got me the code but then the box was already unlocked and there was no key. Fortunately the door of the apartment was unlocked, the key was on the inside of the door, we were in, and all was well.

Once our bags were in we rested for a while. David came by a little later to check that all was well. Majella asked about an iron which she had not been able to find and was introduced to a clothes steamer that David took out of a cupboard. She will be able to spruce up her shirt for travel tomorrow. She also found a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle that she could not resist and laid out on the sole table.

About 5:30 pm Majella and I walked the 500 m each way to the local supermarket to get provisions for breakfast and some extras for our simple dinner tonight, essentially a repeat of last night after our lunch. It was a pleasant walk through the village. Along the way we crossed the Ouche and saw some boys swinging into the water despite the sign forbidding swimming.

On our return she continued with the puzzle although there seemed little hope she would finish it in time for us to eat dinner at the table or by the time we leave tomorrow. Time will tell.