Travel Blog France #5 – Going up, up and away

I’m home, in Budapest. Lyon was not the kind mistress to me as I hoped she would. Even there, all the jobs offered were starting from end of September or beginning of October. Pretty city though, full of lovely rivers, mouth-watering restaurants and life. But how would I get home, with no jobs and very little cash? Hitchhike, of course, was obvious but which way to take? Go up north through Germany and Austria, or maybe south via Italy and Slovenia? Continue reading “Travel Blog France #5 – Going up, up and away”

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.

Continue reading “Travel Blog France #4 – More and more mileage”

Travel Blog France #3 – Bordeaux Busted

So, after visiting as many chateaus as possible, it turns out the harvest will start later than last year in the Sauternes area. Effectively this means I’m buggered, I was hoping I’d be working by now.

Tomorrow I’ll pick my huge bag again, and embark on what might be a wild goose chase, in the south of France, near Perpignan. Continue reading “Travel Blog France #3 – Bordeaux Busted”

Travel Blog France #2 – Kindness of strangers

It’s been five days since I threw all caution to the wind and flew to France in hopes of finding work in the vineyards in the region of Aquitaine. I haven’t succeeded yet and I was faced with unforseen troubles.

First stop was Bordeaux, where I didn’t have a pre-arranged bed. I really hoped that one of the many couchsurfing request would be answered by the time I got off the train. They weren’t. I used the wifi at the station (30 minutes, then stop mooching) to find a youth hostel nearby, and with great luck they had one free bed. First night sorted, €27.

Not knowing what do to, I wandered into the city at night, just taking it all in. There was music playing almost everywhere – a band rehearsing under the bridge, buskers, groups playing with joy in the park, beautiful buildings. Not a lot of social interactions, but I learned not to mind. Second day I found a couchsurfing host, Quentin and we had a great night, meeting random people and them showing us ‘secret’ bars. Fun was had.

Next day, I left for Bommes, the town where my sister worked last year. Public transport is not the best, so I hitchhiked – not a socially accepted thing around these parts I later learned – and with distances being what they are, I walked. A lot. I started asking around châteaus with my rudimentary French, only to get told complet, complet, complet over and over – they were full.

After a day of fruitless searching, and night approaching fast, I was getting nervous. And a bit scared. I brought a tent with me, I found a suitable clearing and set up camp, defeated for the day. Cut to morning, my left eye is on fire. Light was pain, vision was blurry. I contained my panic, packed up and headed for the road to grab a ride to nearby big-ish town, Langon and the hospital. After half an hour of walking, a girl finally stops.

She was my saving angel, I kid you not. She rushed me to the hospital and despite my protests, she stayed. Asked me where I come from, what am I doing here. If I have a place to stay. Told me about her as well, that she likes travelling too. Slowly building rapport, through some language barriers. After I’ve been checked, a small lesion of my cornea, we went to have coffee and we met some of her friends, including Yacine, who offered me a bed at his place. I was overflowing with gratitude, unable to express it. Still am.

These people took me in, a complete stranger, shared their house, their food. I have never experienced something like this. They helped me look for jobs, showed me around the area. We had dinners, we laughed, we partied. I was invited to a manage a trois, which I politely declined. So much has happened in such a short amount of time, I couldn’t do it justice by writing about it. Least to say, it is a very humbling experience. And my eye feels better now.

Job-wise, things are not looking grape-y (sorry). The harvest starts late this year, beginning of October, which leaves me in some awkward financial situation. I’ve spent a lot to get out here, without a backup plan. Tomorrow I’ll leave Sauternes to the South, my sister’s friend is there already and harvest has started, let’s hope my luck stays strong and I’ll find some travailler…

P.S. Yesterday we watched On The Road, adapted from Jack Kerouac’s novel, documenting his travels through the States. I felt it was strangely allegorical to my current situation. Go and see it.

Travel blog France #1 – The grape-picking experiment

Hello there, Zeo again. Back after a long, long hiatus in writing, during which nothing out of the ordinary has happened. I moved back to Budapest, got a job, reunited then seperated from the girl who was the primary reason for my return, made some amazing new friends, partied, travelled as much as I could. It was… convenient. I was making more than avarage, had a lovely cheap flat, my job wasn’t very demanding. I also started a different uni, this time in Computer Science.

Things didn’t really work out in that area, sadly. Their chosen method of teaching wasn’t in line of my expectations, so after a year and a half, I dropped out. That makes two unis so far, if anyone is counting.

Then my job situation changed, I had to make adjusments and I wasn’t happy. I didn’t feel satisfied. A conversation with a friend planted the idea of China and Asia in my head – teaching English there, to be precise. I also had a friend who was planning to move out to London, for the first time in her young life. I thought I’d go with her, show her the ropes and during all that use my amazing skills to secure a job in China and fly out.

So I came to London, full of hope and enthusiasm – only to be kicked in the teeth by reality. After sending out 50+ CV’s and only one unsuccessful Skype interview, my saved up money was starting to dry up. My temporary flatmate, and old friend, Dora offered me a job as a bartender at the restaurant she was working at. I took it, only to experience the worst employer I’ve ever met. I quit after a month and a half; I was seeing myself becoming full of angst, aggression, impatience. Virtues I don’t ever want to possess. I’ve spent three more months at an events company, but work was few and far between. I should’ve looked for jobs, but I was demoralised by London. I traveled twice, firstly to Antwerpen to meet my friends, and to Ibiza after for a week. During the stay on the island I resolved to reboot.

So after my annual Green Man festival in Wales I went home. I had no idea what I was to do, surprisingly my sister helped me out, by telling me about grape picking in France, which to her was quite a fortuitous seasonal job last year. My aim to Asia resolved, I’m now en route to Bordeaux, France. Hopefully I’ll find jobs and secure enough cash so I can start actually planning leaving to Bangkok – I don’t want to spend the winter here.

It’s been a while since I jumped into anything without being secure, this time I have no idea what’ll happen. I currently don’t even have a place to stay, let alone a job. It’s… exhilarating! I think I needed this. I needed this a lot. Stay tuned for more updates, not as long-winded, but more and more frequent as I switch into travel blog mode. I’m even planning on getting a DSLR to improve myself as a photographer 😉