Concerning A Visit To Vannes And Some Attempted Refreshment

IMG_9947What does it take to make a cup of coffee? And that’s not a trick question. Really, what does it take? Even doing it ‘properly’, it’s not – I hope you’ll agree – the world’s most complex task. And if you do it for living, professional-like, it should be even less complicated, yes?
Well. Stand by for the first rant of the holiday. Because this morning, in the picturesque and historic city of Vannes, in an otherwise bustling and very agreeable covered market, it took 3.5 people all of fifteen minutes to serve up a cappuccino and a hot-chocolate.
3.5 people? Well, yes. Three of them seemed to be dedicated to the task full time while the .5 was clearly designated to visit me every so often at the counter, look quizzically at the receipt I was clutching (which was slowly turning into papier-mâché in my increasingly desperate and sweaty grasp); smile knowingly and then wander off again.
Two of the three seemed to be the proprietors of the coffee-stall, the third – judging by their shared taste in outlandish eyewear – possibly a daughter. And therein lay the difficulty. The Holy Trinity of Attempted-Coffee-Dispensation were clearly far too busy trying to look fashionably stylish with their oversized, horn-rimmed, dual-coloured spectacles and their ‘Je suis Francais, vous connaissez?’ attitude that their primary raison d’etre had clearly long since been lost to a sad triumph of style over content.
So, they all clattered about behind their counter, clouds of steam and froth flew about the place, clientele (are you liking the lingo creeping in here?) gathering exponentially while they continually crashed into each other rushing from the till to the coffee-machine (ooh, pardon!) and back again, sloshing milk and coffee-grounds around the place with gusto, but sadly not quite managing to MAKE ANY BLOODY COFFEE!!!!!
Eventually, a result emerged and we were able to triumphantly enjoy our petite dejeuner, as solid rain continued to pour down outside. (You were wondering why the hot chocolate, weren’t you?) We were a bit damp and needed comforting – with oven-warm pastries bought from an adjoining stall – far less fashionable and therefore infinitely more efficient. And ha-ha, look at us, we’re eating them at the coffee-stall’s tables and they’re too ‘busy’ to do anything about it. Result!
Vannes was, as the guide books advised, well worth a visit, and we enjoyed the rest of our brief pedestrianised tour of the old town as well as the classic ‘painting-by-numbers’ tree-lined streets. The cathedral was mid-Sunday mass as we stepped inside and it was gratifying to see a healthy congregation giving their all to an unidentifiable hymn while the pervading smell of incense transported us both back to earlier and more youthful times.
The cathedral was also, we noted, the first place we’d witnessed to act as refuge to a straggly few homeless individuals, one of whom was sporting a very hipster beard and smoking a cigar in between swigs from his can of extra-strength lager as he squatted aimlessly in the main doorway. Vannes was clearly a good place to be homeless.
The rain persisted as we stumbled by chance outside of the impressively solid mediaeval and well-preserved city walls into a beautifully planted and lawned linear park which led us back towards the yacht-cluttered port and to the welcoming and dry interior of the van, where The Navigator Without Equal soon had us back on the road again, heading south as – assumedly – that’s where the sun was shining.

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