Day Six: Gare

28 Dec. 2009

Hello!

I promise that I’ll get caught up with my posting and fill you in on all the details of my overly-busy life! If you want to know all the mundane details, that is… and I assure you, I have plenty of those to share.

So, until I catch up (today is Day Eight Eleven), except posts like Day four/five; just PRETEND I posted this on time! 😉

D’abord (first of all), I’d like to say that le matin was not very interesting. Our NaviGo passes (for the bus and metro in Paris) had expired the day before, so our only form of transportation was our feet!

Dad had discovered that there was a Roman arena near our hotel in Paris, so after we had breakfast (some pastry; I didn’t like it), we walked until we found it. That was pretty cool; something so old (older than Notre Dame de Paris, I think), right in the middle of the city (MORE OR LESS; Paris is a very large city.) It was kind of like the “beautiful ruins” I told you about before, except these weren’t exactly ruins and they were incredibly old… I would still say they are “forgotten”, though. There weren’t any tourists (except for us, of course) standing around admiring it.

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A few locals were wandering around; there was a small playground behind the arena, and small families with young children were there. It was otherwise empty, which I guess is a good thing because for once in Paris, we weren’t two of the hundreds of people. The emptiness allows you to imagine the arena not surrounded by buildings and instead, filled with throngs of people watching some sort of likely-inhumane entertainment. xD

Anyway, we continued walking past le Jardin des Plants, which apparently has a menagerie. Unexpectedly, looking through the the bars of the fence surrounding the park, trying to catch sight of les animaux is quite time-consuming.

We took pictures of some of them:

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(uhhh… just kidding. You can’t really see the REALLY CUTE ANIMAL in it. Silly animals, walking around being cute where we couldn’t get a good picture of them…)

Eventually, we found a way into the actual Jardin! (I think. Again with the not knowing what something or other is.)

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P1090586 P1090587*about to sneeze*

Once we had made our way out of that small portion of the Jardin, we returned to the hotel to pick up our bags and walked awkwardly (it’s impossible to NOT walk like an ape when you’re hauling far too many things) to the bus. Soon after, we had arrived at Gare de Lyon, where our train was arriving an hour and some later.

Quick side note: When’s the last time you took a train? Not a subway/metro/underground/etc., but an actual TRAIN?
The only time I’ve ever taken trains has been in Europe, and if you never have… you should experience it sometime. The confusion, chaos, and everything… it’s quite fun and you don’t have to go through security like at airports! You don’t even have to arrive an hour early! (Thirty minutes will do just fine, if you can figure out the signs, that is.)

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Right. So, after a longgggg wait, during which we ate gaufres (waffles!) for lunch, the platform was finally displayed on the screen (they only show a color, for which area of the train station a certain train will be in until the train actually arrives) and we struggled through the crowd to the near the front of the train (which is the farthest away, naturally), and found our car.

P1090591 (hahaha at the guy next to me.)

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P1090590(this wasn’t our train, nor was it even the correct area of the train station. I’m just throwing this in there because it shows a bullet train and the station.)

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Our train was actually two trains connected together, near where I’m standing.

When we found our seats (after dumping our excessively huge bags on the storage racks), we discovered that they were taken! Luckily, the guy sitting there spoke English so we could communicate the mistake. Trains are confusing like that; there are multiple cars with the same seat numbers, and sometimes, like with our train, there are two different trains and you have to pay attention to know which one you SHOULD be on. xD

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Finally, we started moving; through the beautiful French countryside, heading to Nice. There wasn’t internet on the train, but they had outlets, so I wrote the Day Four blog while on the train, which took up most of the ride when I wasn’t staring dreamily out the window, listening to music on my iPod (Owl City, probably; I’m only a little obsessed), or watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 🙂

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The entire ride, Dad was trying to get a picture of the trains that would pass us. It was rather funny; he’d reach across me, holding his camera near the window, just waiting for another train and then jumping when one passed before finally trying to take the picture. He mostly just watches the countryside, though; this time, he was talking a lot to the people across from us, who seemed to be playing musical chairs, as there were three different people that sat in those seats at different points in time. Apparently they (the two women whose seats were actually across from ours; the other one was this guy although I don’t know why he was sitting there) live in a town near mine.

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The sky got darker, and at last, we arrived in Saint Raphaël, the town next to Fréjus, where my host family was waiting to greet us.

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I admit, I had no idea what they would look like, but I guess Dad knew or they knew or something, because when we reached the end of the escalator at the main entry, they were standing there waiting for us and smiling. Immediately, they took the suitcase that Dad was hauling (the heavier one xD), and gave us bisous. (That was unexpected, though it shouldn’t have been.)

[I will explain bisous more later on in this post or another, but what you need to know is that bisous are the air-kisses on either cheek.]

We all piled into their car (a Ford Focus) and drove to their house for dinner. Nathalie (pronounced “Natalie”), my host-mother, was worried that I would be picky, but I’ve kind of promised myself (and my dad) that I would at least TRY everything. Nathalie’s daughter, Alexandra, came to dinner as well—she was on holiday from university in Paris, where she is studying to become a translator (so she knows French, English, Spanish, and a little bit of Russian). Quentin acts just like a younger brother; in fact, I think he would get along really well with my “other” little brother, being Molly’s brother Christopher. Olivier is a bit of a goofball; he and Dad get along with signs and broken phrases.

Anyway, it was nice to finally meet them, and it looks like (from here) I will get along with them quite nicely.

P1090641 From the top left: Nathalie, Olivier, me, and Dad.

-Aly

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