More interesting sessions today, and tonight, the beginning of a series of organized social events which would prove far more entertaining as comedies of errors.
The first, a “Burgundian Gastronomy evening”. A large group of people stood in the lobby and later outside on the sidewalk waiting for a bus that never arrived, despite assurances from organizers that it was on its way. These assurances turned into rather less confident “I don’t know where the bus is” to “the bus has been cancelled”, although admittedly the answer varied depending on who was asked. When I questioned the young fellow who seemed to be in charge, he replied that it was only a five minute walk. I had a vague idea of the area in question, and pointed out that it was not a five minute walk and that there were elderly people who might find this distance difficult. He replied that if they couldn’t walk that far, they wouldn’t be able to climb into a bus either, and that they should take a cab.
And so I informed the group, my arms waving around in a reasonable facsimile of Gaelic temper. It quickly became clear that
there were no taxis to flag down, so we all began our group march to find dinner.
The only problem was that no one knew where the restaurant was, and
quite a few didn’t even know its name. After a few false alarms (one
man, an orchid judge from Asia, opened a door that looked promising only to find that it led to a public washroom), we
found our destination behind a construction zone. It was now quite
late, and once everyone was settled the meals were unceremoniously dropped on our tables. One poor girl at my table was a vegetarian and
her special order had not been passed on to the caterers. We pitched in
by giving her the bread and cheese from our plates.
Once we finished eating, that was it — the event was over. Eat and get out. Over a hundred
people poured out on to the dark street at 11 o’clock at night, anxiously scanning the passing
cars for a taxi. I quickly realized the futility of waiting and started
the long walk back to my hotel, pondering wistfully that the Burgundian
gastronomy of my first evening at the restaurant cost exactly half of
the 50 euros I paid for this event.