Friday, May 28 – Saarbrucken: Today was the day of the iPad’s release in Europe and therefore the day we could get a French microSIM to permit 3G access anywhere. The helpful people at Orange (cell phone provider) explained that we certainly could get the microSIM but needed a French bank account. We replied that we had such a thing. They then explained that we also needed a French credit card. We replied that we were very close but did not yet have it in hand; as we knew, we might not in fact ever get it before the trip was over. So, we bit the bullet and called Dani to ask whether he would permit us to use his credit card. He very kindly agreed (thanks Dani!) and the transaction proceeded by phone call between the Orange agent and Dani. And we are absolutely delighted with the result: hit “maps” and you are shown your current location; enter a destination and you are shown exactly what turns to make to get there. (I know: most of the world already finds this GPS magic commonplace; I’m a bit behind.)
Our second challenge was to get the “clef de 3G” working on the MacBook Pro. After loading the software, nothing happened. We were relieved to discover that the Orange agent could do no better. In the end, he provided a substitute key and made it all work. That should have meant that this post (and those for Wed and Thurs) could have been posted tonight. But we are now in Germany where the Orange network does not work!
We finally left Verdun at 3pm, too exhausted to go visit the battlefields (which probably looked no different from the countryside we could see from the road — although we’ll never know). We decided to take a short detour to Saarbrucken to sample some German cooking, found a terrific hotel at the tourist office, and set out to find a beer garden and good local food. We did find a place in the main square to sit and have a beer and a newfangled drink made with prosecco and peppermint:
Two hours later we were back at the hotel having seen nothing we couldn’t have found virtually anywhere in Europe (ersatz sushi bar, McDo, many pasta/pizza places) very discouraged. The 30ish innkeeper suggested we eat at the hotel but, having seen what we thought was the menu by the door, we were not impressed.
But we really had no other choice. So, imagine our surprise to discover that the menu extended far beyond what we had seen and included a wild boar braten shot by the innkeeper himself. As you can see below, we had a stunning home-cooked meal which would have been very difficult to find if one were searching for it.
We started with a cup of wonderful potato soup:
The wild boar braten was the main dish:
with butter spaetzle:
and the traditional red cabbage: