Monday, March 2, 2009

France: On My Way

There is so much to tell you about my trip to France. I wrote bits of things down as I went so I will post those and intermix them with other thoughts of mine from the trip which I remember, have now or make up.

I didn't have midterm exams (just test) so I left for France on Monday and returned on Sunday. I finished my midterm Sunday night and gave it to my good friend Bristol to turn in for me. My flight was supposed to depart at 8:15A on Monday morning, meaning I needed to be there at 6:15A. If buses went at the right time I would have left around 5 or 4:30 to be safe. Buses and coaches, especially around 4A never leave when I want them to... and if one leaves not too, too early, it will be full so I will have to take the earlier bus.
It's in quotes because I wrote it then

"Day 1- "Monday" 0200
I go out to the bus station and I am convinced I forgot my phone. I return to the bus station, my phone was just in a different pocket. I wait for about 20 minutes because London's transport system website isn't always correct. While waiting I read 2 pages of "Empty Space" and realize I am too tired to read.
Two older gentlemen nod to me and wish me a good morning. It's 0220 now. I say thank you and return the greeting... wondering what time zone they are in. They ask me if I live here, I say yes. They ask "why are there so many women shops.... two for over hundreds of shops for women..." The conversation continues to the need for sugar daddies. They leisurely stroll down the sidewalk. I'm not sure what world these two men lived in, but I have a theory it isn't too far from "The Big Rock Candy Mountains"

Monday 0255
So I get off the N11 Bus at the Victoria Coach Station stop and begin to follow the two boys in front of me who have suitcases, only to realize they are disagreeing on whether to go straight or to continue following the man in front of them. I cross the walkway and realize this part of the stations has a large gate over it. I turn around and hear, "Sara! Sara!". On N11 I met an Italian, Stefano (think Tempest) and an Irishman named Tim. I had been sitting quietly, playing a bit of the I-dont'speak-English game when Stefano ask me something. I'm not sure, but I don't think it was english so I must have been playing the game well. I was reluctant to talk because the three guys in the back either had fags or opened alcohol. Neither of these things are allowed on the bus and usually signal trouble. All the same I ended up talking just a bit, but the ride was short. So as it turned out, they had gotten off the bus to smoke and they attempted to show me where to go, but they didn't knwo exactly where I was supposed to be either. After asking two workers I departed from Tim, and Irishmen who identified with the english and Stefano, the friendliest guy from Naples. I found my bus with about five minutes to spare and that's where I am now.
Oh-- and Tim offerred me this amazing Strawberry Shortcake umbrella he found on the bus, but I declined it since I didn't want to more luggage. I should've taken him up on it. It'll probably rain in Paris now-- the whole time.
Note: There are only about 8 other people on the coach to the airport with me and they are all by themselves. I find this strange, but oddly nice.

Monday 0640
I fell asleep pretty quickly on the bus and awoke once to find I had no feeling in my leg. This has become fairly common lately and I am wondering the cause.... It's obnoxious and ocassionally painful to wake up to tingling. Sometimes I don't realize until I go to get out of bed and I either can't move the leg because it's heavy or I roll out of bed and fall over when I try to stand"

I ended up sleeping on and off while in the airport, but I was very nervous that somehow, beneath all my layers, my passport would get stolen so I didn't sleep very deeply. My plane was delayed, but luckily only about 20 minutes, much less than what they thought it would be. I slept on the plane and when I arrive in the Charles De Gaul Paris Aeroport I was amazed. Here I am, in France. It was a bit overwhelming, but the good kind. I had a lot of emotions in my insides and felt stingy behind my eyes like I might cry. I didn't though. I didn't do anything. I just kept walking... I bought a little magazine recommended by my mom's guidebook, which I never used. However, it was a good first experience because I had difficulty finding it and the transaction was all in French- just a reminder of where I was.

My hostel gave great directions and I followed all the right signs. My hostel was a bit out of the city, but it was still very nice. After getting off my metro station I found a grocery store and bought a bag of pain au chocolate. They were delicious and a true foreshadowing of the rest of my trip.

(Taken directly outside my hostel on Day 1)

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