Discovering and photographing the unknown beauty of Europe
After our memorable visit to the Chateau de Vaux winery Lars and I went back to the hotel. I wanted to have look at the website of the museum that we were going to visit the day afterwards: the Golden Courtyard Museums.
I was a bit surprised when I discovered that this website was only in French. According to the guidebook and the Tourist Information Office this is one of the most popular museums in Metz. Does it only attract French visitors? I also had a look at the entrance fee, which was quite low. The website didn’t say anything about payment with bank or credit cards, but I assumed since electronic payment had been possible in the Centre Pompidou-Metz, that this would also be the case here.
Lars and I arrived at the museum on Sunday morning. We had forgotten our negative experience of the day before and we were very excited since this museum is all about the history of Metz. Soon however our excitement disappeared.
We had to pay less than € 10 to get in. I immediately took my credit card, but the receptionist – a woman in her 30s – refused, since the machine only accepted € 15 or more. We told her that we didn’t carry enough cash money with us – a Belgian habit by the way – and asked if she couldn’t make an exception for us, but she refused again, saying that it was a technical problem.
Since she didn’t offer any solution, I wanted to ask her if there was any ATM in the neighborhood. I only had one big problem: I didn’t know the French word for ATM. I simply couldn’t remember it. So I asked my question in English. And that annoyed her very much. She didn’t understand us and continued in French, asking us what we wanted. I did a little show, said the word bank in French, acted as if I was typing in a code and then said “argent” (money). I started feeling like the female version of Mister Bean.
“Ah! Vous cherchez un distributeur d’argent?”
Yes, distributeur d’argent. That’s a French word I will never forget. Apparently there was one in the neighborhood. The receptionist told us to leave the museum and go to the left. That was the only explanation that we got. So that’s what we did. We left and went left. For a long time. No bank to be seen. No distributeur d’argent either. Since we were in a labyrinth of small streets, I suggested that at some point we went right, so that at least we could find the museum again. And so we did: we went right.
Finally, we did find a distributeur d’argent. While Lars was busy with the money, I had a look around to find out how far we were from the museum. Guess what? It was only about 50 meters from where we were standing… If we had left the museum and gone right instead of left, we would immediately have found the infamous distributeur d’argent. Had the receptionist made a mistake? Or had she said something so that she could get rid of us?
When we were in the museum again, she was not happy to see us. Then she received a telephone call from a friend and started talking with her for a couple of minutes, ignoring us completely. Suppose that during one of my classes, I stop teaching and start talking to a friend on my mobile phone. If you were one of my students, would you like that? I guess not. And I guess you would think that I am not professional. That’s what Lars and I thought about this woman too.
When she had finally finished with her nonsense on the phone, we could finally pay. Then I made mistake number 1. I kindly suggested to the receptionist that maybe the museum could put more information about the payment method on their website. She snapped back at me that this was certainly not her job! And we still were not in the museum yet. The grumpy woman refused to let me in with my small backpack, which happens to be my camera bag. I refused. So did she. I asked where I was supposed to leave it and she told me she would keep it with her at the counter. I refused and told her that this was my camera bag and I would only leave it in a place that could be closed.
That was even a bigger mistake… Apparently the French word “caméra” refers to a video camera or a television camera. We were not aware of this. The woman was now convinced that I was going to film in the museum, which is apparently forbidden. She panicked and became furious at the same time. I finally opened my backpack and showed her the contents. She calmed down, but she still insisted that I left it with her. I gave in, because I simply had enough of her…
Finally, after an agonizing 40 minutes, we could enter the museum…
To be continued!