Travel Blog France #4 – More and more mileage

This post is being written in a youth hostel in Lyon. As usual, quite a lot has happened since our last correspondence. Now where was I. Oh yes, McDonald’s in Narbonne. After I felt fully charged, and finally putting back the contacts into my left eye and being able to see, I didn’t really know where to go. My trusty cardboard was ready, stating my direction was to Montpellier, but the time to both check out the city and go down to the beach – I freaking love the sea (or ocean), for me there’s nothing like swimming in it, so I had to make an executive decision. I choose the sea.

I was, once again, quite quick on the uptake at the péage, only 15 minutes of wait. Today my ride was Leon, a gardener in Narbonne, who was heading towards an amazing biannual festival-party in Nimes. Quite a nice guy, he bought me a coffee, went out of his way to drop me off a convenient place. Also gave me a bottle of Coke – because French people apparently like giving strange, out-of-place gifts. This ranks third, after a block of cheese and a bag of sugar. From there it was a quick, easy hitch to the plagés of Le Grande Motte, a nearby resort of old people. Imagine French Miami.

As I took in all the splendours of finally being on a beach again, I approached a guy to ask about directions to a shop, from some dinnertime pain snacking (that’s bread in French). He didn’t know of any, but happily gave up his leftover baguette. We got talking, telling our origin stories, bonding. He added me on Facebook and told me to find him tomorrow in Montpellier for coffee and whatnot. Cool, I love making new friends. I set my tent up in some small valley, unseen and went to sleep at the sound of the sea, and the nearby nightclubs piercing bass beats. Just like a festival, I kept telling myself. What I wouldn’t give for a sleeping bag.

Woke up, feeling happy. Let’s pack this shit up and swim in the bloody Mediterranean Sea. That’s the word I’ll never ever learn how to spell without my good friend Google. But I digress, as usual. After a brisk dip in the not-so-warm sea, I had an amazing shower (after 3+ days) flagged by some disapproving old people and was ready to explore Montpellier and it’s rumoured young people distribution. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. My friend from last night, Alex, called me to say we was at the beach and will be heading to the north, and could drop me off at Lyon. This was a chance I couldn’t pass off, so I waited for him to finish his moment in the sun.

During the wait, two older French people approached me, asked about what I was doing, who I was. One of them even spoke perfect German, so the language barrier, for the moment, was a thing of the past. I told them most of my adventures and listened to theirs. I was offered rosé wine and cigarettes, a luxury of time long past in Langon and, happily, I partook. After a while Alex arrived and off we went to the north, leaving all the sunshine behind – literally. In the car you could look ahead to see overcast skies, while in the rearview mirror, nothing but bright blue.

After a long and talkative long journey, he was a Frenchman who spoke great English, and some frantic and unsuccessful host searching on CouchSurfing, we arrived and passed Lyon. See, the highway cuts into the city, but there’s little chance to actually get out – even though we were right in the middle. So far far far away we drive, to the next peage, where I bade my carmate goodbye and hopped very quickly into Florence’s back to Lyon centre.

She was a nice, young, like-minded girl who loves to travel. After my confession that I had no place to stay, she offered up her flat, gave me her number and told me what to see, while she went to a party. I was beyond happy, and I thought my luck couldn’t be better. I walked around Lyon, a very pretty city, content in the knowledge that tonight, finally, a real bed and maybe something more, would await me. Then came the text: ‘sorry, I’m not sleeping at home tonight, good luck’. Gutted, gutted I was about losing the one strand of hope I had. Camping not really an option in the third biggest city in France, I gave in and payed (gasp) for a night in the youth hostel.

Tomorrow I’ll try again, to look for jobs, to find my friends, to have some sense of accomplishment in this long, long journey. Keep your fingers crossed, if this place fails as well, I’m bound home – via hitchhike of course, no money for a plane 😉

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