My journey began in the early hours of the 30th of June. 5:30 to be precise. It would take me about 7 hours from Amsterdam to Paris, however this turned out to be way more. First of all the bus made a wrong turn somewhere in a little town between Antwerp and Brussels and got stuck for about an hour in a teeny tiny alley. After several failed attempts, as a last resort, the busdriver decided to simply drive right through the barricades of some sort of little park and off we went. Finally we arrived in Paris and I did not realize that the toughest part of the journey had only just begun. I have traveled many a time with a lot of luggage before, for example with the underground in London, however I had no clue what Paris had in store for me.
I must have carried my suitcase up and down a million stairs. To my frustration, the stairs did not even seem to have any purpose whatsoever. Sometimes I had to climb a small flight of stairs to then go down again, remaining on the exact same level in the exact same alley as before. Paris was laughing at me…and then I was about to make her cry. At the very last flight of stairs I tripped and fell all the way down. First came my suitcase, then my phone and then me, on top. That was probably one of the most awkward moments I have experienced so far. Two young men helped me up, but quickly turned from helpful to extremely pushy as they tried to sell me something dodgy. After politely refusing their products and establishing that I had broken my sandal as well as the screen of my precious phone I soldiered on.
Once I jumped into the metro it got really crowded real fast and before I knew it I was crushed against a wall, desperately trying to hold on to my luggage. As I suddenly sensed that I was feeling a bit weird…a bit faint, I realised that it was about 41 degrees and that I hadn’t had any water since the early morning, thus I jumped off the metro, bought a bottle of water and continued.
A million more steps and stairs. Once arrived at the station I neatly handled my very first French conversation at the ticket office for the train. I would take a train from Paris to Orléans and from Orléans to Salbris, the closest town near my camping. Unfortunately -what else did I expect?- both trains took a random break in the middle of the tracks and mid-journey, for no particular reason. This caused an even greater delay.
Enfin, three hours after my ‘supposed’ time of arrival, I set foot on Salbris ground. Upon arrival it appeared that there had been a little miscommunication between myself and the camping and I arrived to an emty station in a somewhat deserted little town. Apart from two men who were sitting about 200 metres away from me in front of their takeaway restaurant there was no one to be found. Behind me the doors of the station were shut and a lady was wiping the floor. The guys in front of the restaurant tried nearly everything to catch my attention from a distance and in turn I pretended very hard not to see them.
There I waited for about 40 minutes, a rush of excitement running through my body everytime I heard the sound of a car approaching. Every car that passed by seemed to be in a worse shape than the one before and I was slowly dreading to see the vehicle that would take me to the camping. Out of nowhere a beautiful creme/yellow convertible appeared, a tall man behind the wheel and slowly heading my way. It wasn’t until the man stopped the car right in front of me, got out and I could see the word ‘Animation’ on the back of his shirt, that I realised that this was my ride.
I can tell you this; nothing is more satisfying after a ridiculously long journey than cruising through the French countryside with an open roof, the wind blowing through your hair. I was terribly afraid to speak French but the man took the lead in English from the start, which I found very comforting. This ‘man’ turned out to be my manager; Anthony.
After about half an hour in his beautiful convertible we arrived at the camping site: Les Alicourts. The place where I would be spending the next two months. Anthony quickly guided me to my room – yes, room, you read that correctly, no tent for me! – and after a quick shower I met my colleagues when they just finished their shift. We sat down in front of the lake, which was one of the prettiest views I had seen in a while. All of my colleagues are French, but all very nice and tried very hard to speak English and make me feel comfortable. In total we are with three boys; Alex, Kevin and Germaine (and Anthony) and four girls; Perrine, Sabrina, Marion and myself.
All in all it seems that this is going to be an interesting summer, hopefully filled with beautiful things. À la prochaine!