Wednesday, 19 March 2008

No school on Wednesdays

As today was a Wednesday we decided to go to Grenoble to explore the city a bit. Stef's father Georges offered to show us the way to drive to a Parking station on the outskirts so that we could take the tramway into the centre. It is a cheap solution for a family as you pay per car for the parking, and your tram tickets are included in the cost of 1.50 euros.
Before we left Georges explained to me, in French which I thought I understood, how we would get there. We followed him across he river, along the autoroute and towards Grenoble to the vicinity of the University as he had said. But then he took the exit number "un" (1) and I was sure he said exit number "deux" (2). He signalled madly with his hand out the window and we followed, but then decided that he must be signalling that he was leaving and we should go on. We went around the round-about again and took exit number "deux", and then got completely lost. We saw the huge looming blue shape of the new IKEA store and took refuge in its parking area. What to do now?? Roger suggested that we should ask another family who were getting their kids out of the car at the same time as we arrived, so in my not very best French I asked them if they knew of the parking station we were looking for. They did not, but they knew where the tramway was, and that you could park for free at several places. The very friendly French man took roger in his car to SHOW HIM where the parking and the tram station was. Meanwhile the children and I went into the IKEA store and had fun looking at the room displays and Sophie decide which home set-up she would like to have when we return to Australia. Eventually Roger returned and we used the IKEA restrooms and had an IKEA hot dog.
When we got back in the car I convinced Roger that we should try to find the way that Georges had explained to me. We drove around for a bit, and Roger recognised where the friendly French man (whom he referred to as "my mate") had taken him. We parked and took a tram into Grenoble, but after we had been on it for a few stops we realised we were on the wrong line and had to change trams. Eventually we made it into the centre and went to the "office de tourisme" and got ourselves a map. Then we leisurely wandered the narrow streets, chasing Hugh to stop him running onto the road because we had left the pram at home. The girls wanted to visit every little shop we saw, but by this time it was nearly time to go home again. Galeries Lafayette provided some fun on the escalators and a toilet stop, and then "pasta via" provided some dinner. We took the correct tram back to where we had parked, and navigated successfully home. By this time the kids were well and truly ready for bed and we put them straight to bed. Roger had already locked the door and we thought a child was banging, but there was someone at the door...
It was Georges, who had spent two hours looking for us after we had left him at the round-about and tried to ring us without success. His hand signal had meant that we were to follow him! I had heard right when he said we should take exit "deux", but when he got there he realised he had made a mistake and exit "un" was in fact the one we should take. We felt bad that he had been worried about us, he felt bad that he had lost us; and he drew us such a good sketch of a map that I am sure we could find the parking station blindfolded next time we need to go there.

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