For all of my friends and family, I will begin in English. The first week in France was, to say the least, intense. The itinerary was too much, period. I left Cleveland, Ohio and flew to Chicago, where I had a 5 hour layover. The layover was long, but I didn’t really mind. I knew everything was on-time and moving according to schedule, so it was fine. On the plane, I was extremely uncomfortable. My sister was right, I should’ve picked another seat, next time by the window so at least I can prop myself against it and sleep. Although I was surrounded by French speakers, so that was neat and made me chuckle to myself from time to time while listening to their conversations. I think I slept a bit, but not much. I actually, at one point perhaps the 6th or so hour had to stand up and just stand there my back was so uncomfortable. If you have the money, go first class for an international flight. Then you can sleep, or at least you won’t have cramping everywhere. Once I got into Charles de Gaule it was very quick and easy to get through customs and get my bags. No problems here. I then found the taxi line and waited my turn. The taxi ride was expensive, but took me straight to La Gare de Lyon (the trainstation that services Avignon—the south of France). Once there I felt completely on my own. There weren’t a ton of people, at least that I could make out, to assist you. Also, I was loaded down with two huge duffle bags and two carry-ons. I’m wheeling it all around this huge station looking for my train, trying to figure out what the hell was going on! I kept watching the big screen waiting to see my train. It wasn’t there so I sat down on my bags and waited. I noticed that every couple of minutes a HUGE crowd of people would start running to a particular platform and then all would be quiet. I was sitting there, wondering how I found myself in this predicament, when all the sudden my train was on the VERY TOP of the board! How did that happen???? Two minutes ago it didn’t even exist and then it was at almost the TOP! I looked at my platform and it was pretty far away and I only had like 8 minutes to get there with ALL of my luggage. SO I RAN! Like everyone around me, I was now in the crowd running to the train. And there were all kinds of dogs and cats, I kept having to apologize for knocking someone’s dog or cat around with my bags! It was hilarious, if you’re not a worry-wart person like me! I was sweating and nervous and scared I was going to miss the train! But I asked some questions as I got near, found my car, and got it. Once I was in I, with some help, got my huge bags on the tiny racks and sat down in my seat. The TGV isn’t as shiny and chic as you see on the internet or in commercials, but all the same it is AWESOME. I had a second class ticket, and I had A TON of space. Compared to the plane, I was living the good life once I got on that train! And, yeah, its fast, really fast. My rail travel experience was honestly four stars, and again, I was not in first class. Once I sat down, I dropped my tray table and passed out for awhile. I was exhausted. The chic south of France lady next to me was probably like, who is this hobo?! When the train stopped, I had to ask if we were actually there, because I think it took less than three hours, it was so fast! I was in fact in Avignon. At that point, I didn’t really have a game plan. So I looked around, and followed the crowd. I asked a couple of young French people working there if there were taxis and there were. I waited, probably a half hour for a taxi because there were quite a few other touristes waiting. The driver got me right to my apartement complex, and I came in, took a shower and passed out. The rest is history.
I’ve started to settle in here in Avignon, and believe me this is a BEAUTIFUL and HISTORIC city. The whole city is surrounded by a HUGE stone wall. It’s as if we’re inside a palace of sorts. And guess what? We are! This is the former palace where the Popes resided, I believe dating as far back as the 17th century! I will upload some pictures as I get more settled in. Trust me, Avignon is breathtaking. The weather is beautiful, and there is often a really nice breeze that will cool you off a bit. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s hot!
Now, I’ll continue in French…
Qu’est-ce que je devrais ajouter de vous expliquer mieux la ville? Je commencerai avec les gens ici, les Français du sud. Ma s?ur m’a conseillée avant le départ que les Français à Paris qu’elle a rencontré il y a 3 ou 4 mois avaient une certaine froideur à leur comportement. Au sud, c’est pas le cas du tout! Le gens sont toujours en train de bavarder et ils sont vraiment sympas. Aussi, ils apprécient beaucoup que je parle français. Quand j’étais à la banque en essayant de faire un compte la, la femme qui l’a ouvert m’as dite, je suis bien contente que tu parles français parce que moi franchement je ne peux même pas parler anglais! Donc voila, si on est seule en France, surtout en Provence, faut absolument parler français pour faire n’importe quoi. Aussi mon bailleur, il aime ça aussi. Il est très gentille avec moi et je crois que c’est à cause du fait que je parler français et je peux le comprendre quand il parle. Un conseil, même si tu es hésitant en parlant français continuez-vous tout de même! Tu t’amélioras certainement avec cet attitude. Aussi tu perdras ton peur. Moi j’avais vraiment peur des premiers jours, je vous jure.
Autres choses. Il y a beaucoup de clochards ici, et ça me blessent un peu. Je les regardent tous les jours. Les personnes de tous les âges, et c’est tellement triste. Aussi, ils ont souvent les chiens très minces, et ça me blessent un peu aussi. C’est dur.
Pour faire un portrait de la ville. Elle est ancienne, belle, et les rues sont très très très étroites! Sont-elles pour les bicyclettes ou quoi alors? Non, les voitures des hautes vitesses conduisent la, et faut faire attention! Pour la plupart les bâtiments, les rues, le grand mur qui enterre la ville sont tous fait de pierres ou roches. Il me fais très fâchée quand je regarde les bâtiments vieux avec beaucoup de graffiti, encore triste. Pourquoi ça alors? Avignon est une ville très touristiques. Il y a des centaines de boutiques de tous type dans les remparts, et hors de la ville centrale il y a plusieurs centres commerciales. Faut cacher le portefeuille ici, parce qu’on pourrais dépenser un grand montant d’euros ici! Et tout est “EN SOLDE!” Bref.
En Avignon, je prendrai le bus ou marcherai et ça suffira bien. Maintenant l’université est fermé, imaginez WVU completement fermé. Non, desolé faut revenir en un moi c’est la vacance maintenant et il n’y a aucune personne la. Les grandes barrières sont toutes fermé, et je regarde perdu par la grille métallique. Je n’attends que le moment qu’ils ouvrent….
Au revoir a tous!