I finally booked my flights to Europe this summer. Thanks go to my friend Glenn who told me about kayak.com. Through kayak I was able to find three one-way flights. No backtracking and no paying through the roof for one-way journeys. And the best thing is, all three flights are direct.
First of all I go from Toronto to Zürich, then will take the train immediately to Lucerne for three days. I like to visit the country before and/or after my Romansch course. In the past I have taken side trips to Bern, Basel, Schaffhausen, Locarno, Bellinzona and Geneva. The Romansch course takes place in the village of Laax, located in the southeast canton of Graubünden. I will study in Level 5 for two weeks, then the day after the course I will fly to Paris from Zürich. I will embark on an introductory course in the Breton language just two days after my Romansch course.
Fingers crossed that I don’t confuse the two languages. I am hopeful that this won’t happen, under the presumption that since I have no prior knowledge of Breton, I will have no Breton vocabulary to draw upon and confuse with Romansch. I reason that if I am struggling to find a Breton word, that since I don’t know it, I won’t have to dig too deep. I am a bit concerned about this, however. Two years ago when I went immediately to Finland after the Romansch course, I could not recall Finnish easily. My second-language default was Romansch. All I could think of was Romansch. When my brain sought a foreign word, it defaulted immediately to the Romansch word. Will this happen when I learn Breton?
After the Romansch course I had originally planned on taking the train from Ilanz (the nearest town to Laax that has a train station) then go by train all the way to Guingamp, France. Guingamp is the nearest city to Plésidy, the village in Brittany where I will be studying. Nothing like studying endangered minority languages in villages where these languages are still used every day.
The Breton course lasts only one week but its description on-line sounds more intensive than the Romansch course, which bills itself as intensive as well. The Breton course is from 9-5 for five days, and I shudder at the idea of what the homework load will be like. I had about three or four hours of homework each night in each of my past Romansch courses.
When the Breton course is over I will explore villages in Brittany where Breton is still used as an everyday language. I plan to spend two nights each in the cities of St. Brieuc, Morlaix, Roscoff, and then in the Pouldreuzic area around Plozévet and Penhors, near Quimper. Breton is indeed still spoken by a large minority in St. Brieuc, Morlaix and Roscoff, but even more so in the villages surrounding these cities. I will embark on day trips to these villages and return to the cities at night, because that’s where the hotels (and the bookstores) are. As for Pouldreuzic, Plozévet and Penhors, this is the area of Brittany home to its famous author Pêr-Jakez Helias. I read Helias’s book The Horse of Pride, about his life in rural Brittany at the turn of the last century. I would love to see where Helias grew up (albeit a century later).
I wind up my stay in Brittany in the city of Quimper, and will work out when I get there how to get to Paris on a Sunday morning. I fly from Paris to Toronto at 10.30 a.m. on a Sunday. Perhaps I will go to Paris and see the city at night on the Saturday before I go. Oddly, I have no interest in seeing Paris, be it daytime or nighttime. Who can sell me on a reason to see Paris?