Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bes – What?

Day 120
After my really lazy day I was definitely up for some exploration. I got an early train and headed to Besancon, a cute medieval town whose name I can't even pretend to pronounce.

A citadel dominated the sky above the city and I headed straight up to it. The citadel was built in 1668 and was huge. There is a ton of stuff to do and I knew that I had my work cut out for me and a full day ahead. I treated myself to an audio guide and soon I was off. I started with the Comtois Museum. I wasn't quite clear on what it held, but it seemed to be regional stuff ranging from pots and pans to religious artifacts. There was even a reference to the Cult of the Shroud (from Turino). I particularly liked the toys and the section on puppets. Why there were puppets, who knows, but they were nice.

After the museum I was directed by the guide to head up to the battlements. They followed along the length of the citadel and most could be walked. From up here I could see the entire town and the valley. Two hills flanked the one the citadel was on. These had also been fortified, but the buildings have disappeared. Brick was used in constructing the walls. This was because brick better absorbs impact from cannon balls and creates less shrapnel. How did I ever live without knowing that?

When I came to the end of the battlements I found myself in the zoo. I loved the monkeys. One group, including several babies were working on their tans. Or watching a rock tv, couldn't really tell. Several others were having a fight while hanging from one arm off the top of their cage. I thought several times that someone would fall, but they seemed ok. Another one, a baby, was trying to escape. He can come with me. The petting area was wonderful. I have never seen such friendly bunnies. The goats seemed pretty cool too, but lost interest in me when they saw that I had no food for them. There were also some grazing llamas and lounging lyons, sorry, lions.

After exploring some more of the fortifications I found the nocturnal house. This was pretty creepy and mostly had roaches and rats. I'd seen enough of those in NYC and didn't see a need to stay long. The reptile house was much better. The frogs and turtles were so cute! I could have done without the spiders and the ant installation along an entire wall.

My next stop was the Resistance and Deportation Museum. Form 1941 to 1944 the Nazi army had occupied the citadel. Approximately 100 members from the French resistance movement were killed here, including at 13 year old boy. The museum discussed how Nazism began and spread. It moved on to the war and the holocaust. There was a particularly interesting section on guerilla warfare. It was all pretty depressing and I guess I wasn't in the mood because I left the museum early to go and spend some more time with the monkeys.

Also in the citadel was a small aquarium and several rooms of stuffed animals. I had planned on seeing a few other things in Besancon, but the citadel really took all day. Most of the sites were closing down. Instead I wandered the old town and bought a new journal.

Once I was back in Dijon I headed to H&M. My jeans had finally died. I didn't want to only have 2 pairs of pants and I just love jeans so I knew the expense was worth it. I also bought myself a new book.

Back at the hostel I read my new book, Forget About It, all night long. Really, I finished the thing. It was about a girl in NYC and they mentioned streets and restaurants by name. It was sort of a nice way to remember my 'real' life. Plus, I had the room to myself and no one was there to complain.

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