Ode to the Indefatigable Tourist

Saturday evening we dined al fresco on the veranda, watching life play out in front of us on Quai de la République, the river Charente and Place Bassompierre on the opposite bank.


It wasn’t the brightest of summer evenings, but still comfortable and very pleasant in an overcasty way. That was no longer the case when we woke up to a decidedly back-into-bed morning of steady rain and chilly air.

Nevertheless, a disgusted glance out the window revealed the first group of tourists assembling in Place Bassompierre to await their Sunday river cruise on the good ship Bernard Palissy II.


Boarding commenced shortly and a motley crew of umbrella-toting and poncho wearing stalwart tourists dispersed over the two levels of the Bernard Palissy II, one of which, as is quite apparent fully exposed to the elements.


Looking at the boat from the cosiness of my bedroom, I have to say that neither upper nor lower deck options seem appealing to me on a day like this. On the upper deck, you get soaked through and through while the windows on the lower deck are rendered opaque both from rain and condensation, thus obscuring the passing scenery. Yet, something else becomes apparent through my open window.


I hear cheerful chatting voices and giggles and laughter. Laughter! These tourists are having fun despite the inclement weather. They are enjoying this outing with their Comrades in Wetness and they are going to have a lovely day. I admire the tenacious spirit of these travelers, who have planned and booked their trip, paid quite a bit of their hard-earned money and are determined to make the best of it. Bravo!

And off they sail upriver toward Chaniers, where a 3-course lunch awaits them in the old mill restaurant. I wonder if the little girl peeking through the stone balustrade envies them the adventure?



Meanwhile, another unflagging group of tourists sets out for the next sight to conquer.


As a lifelong aficionada of Ringelnatz poems, I’m constantly on the lookout for a chance to sneak in one of his rhymes. Right here seems a good spot to bring out his Hamburger Ameisen, the Traveling Ants of Hamburg.

Die Ameisen
In Hamburg lebten zwei Ameisen,
Die wollten nach Australien reisen.
Bei Altona auf der Chaussee
Da taten ihnen die Beine weh,
Und da verzichteten sie weise
Dann auf den letzten Rest der Reise.
[So will man oft und kann doch nicht
Und leistet dann recht gern Verzicht.] 

It was translated as a limerick by E.A.Seemann like this:

The Ants
There once were two ants in Westphalia
Who wanted to go to Australia.
But cursing their feet
In a Belgian street
They gave up the trip as a failya.

Definitely NOT the attitude of our tourists here in Saintes, Charente-Maritime, France!

There are two boats offering a variety of river cruises moored just across from us:

La Gabare Ville de Saintes   here & here

Bernard Palissy II   here & here & here

And here’s the Tourism Office of Saintes for all sorts of activities & sights in and around our town. Bon Voyage!

2 thoughts on “Ode to the Indefatigable Tourist

  1. Our dinner looks pretty good in your photo – and it tasted pretty good, come to think of it. Better here on our terrace then on the rain-soaked Bernard Pelissy II.


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