After making our way to the Gare Montparnasse, we had a 1 hour and 20 minute train ride to Chartres. When we arrived in Chartres, it started snowing again. After finding our hotel, we warmed up for a bit. This was probably one of the nicer hotel rooms that we had during our trip, which isn’t to say that it was some luxurious hotel suite, but in comparison to some of the other places we had been staying in, it was fairly nice. It even had a towel warming rack in the bathroom, which Kassandra and I would just sit next to in order to warm up. On the negative side, it was the only hotel that we stayed at that didn’t have Wi-Fi in the room.
We decided the first thing we would do would be to explore the Cathedral of Chartres. which dates back to 1193. This is the Gothic Cathedral that had enticed Kassandra to want to come to this town. I was able to find the church easy enough.
It is hard to tell from the outside, but the the church is enormous. It also, in my opinion, looks a bit creepy or haunted. The church is well known for its stained glass windows (~176 of them) and statues. Most of these pictures are mine, but a couple are from the internet. My camera just would not take very clear pictures inside the cathedral.
Inside the church, there is a labyrinth. We lucked out and because it was Friday, the labyrinth was available to be walked. At other times of the week, the labyrinth is covered with chairs for the service.
It was very interesting to walk through the cathedral. At one point Kassandra became inspired and typed out a poem on my mobile, so she would remember it later.
However, I think Kassandra was a little disappointed. I am not sure what she was expecting, but in the end, it is still just a church. I know that sounds callous, but for us non-Catholics it probably just doesn’t hold the same spiritual attraction as it does for others.
After leaving the cathedral, we walked around the town for a bit. It really is a charming little town. The center of Chartres is adorable, and at one point I remember thinking that of all the places we had seen, this was the first place that would be fun to live in. It just had a way of making you feel like you had been transported back in time.
Then as we were wondering the streets, I got distracted by the group of teenagers in costumes. Kassandra and I speculated as to where they could be going and why they were wearing Halloween-like costumes in April. Something like this wouldn’t have really caught my attention in Portland – you know, keep Portland weird, but there was something very odd about this in the middle of this tiny little town. As we casually followed them, I got turned around (surprised? You shouldn’t be). We ended up walking up hills, down hills, through the rain and snow for about three hours – and never solved the mystery of the teens in costume. All the while we were getting increasingly hungry and grumpy. This time I couldn’t even try to spin it to Kassandra that we got to see the town because we saw everything interesting about the town before getting lost. Somehow we walked far enough away from the center of town that I couldn’t even find where we were at on the tourist map that we were carrying. I finally stopped to ask for directions in a bar. We were waaaayyyy off course. On the way back, I kept promising Kassandra that we could stop to eat, but we soon learned that most of the restaurants didn’t open for dinner until 7pm.
By the time we made it back to the hotel, we were soaking wet and our limbs were all but frozen off. Kassandra was seconds away from blowing a fuse and losing it completely with me, so I graciously let her be the first to take a hot shower and sit next to the towel warming rack.
After warming up, drying off, and calming down, we had dinner (not far from the hotel). The waiter was charming as he tried to impress us with his English ability, and the fact that there was English music playing in the restaurant. We didn’t find that to be very impressive since there was English music playing everywhere we went. I got to hear more music in English throughout Europe than I do on an everyday basis in the UAE. However, we were impressed by his friendliness and his ability to multitask by being the waiter and the chef.
After all that walking, we were ready to call it a night…. well after hanging out next to the towel warming rack for a little longer.