After a very long, very sleep-deprived 18-24 hours (can’t be too sure with the time change) I arrived in Angers, France on April 20th. The flight/train ride went more-or-less as swimmingly as possible. Thank GOD for earplugs and eye-masks I say. I managed to secure a great seat, though lacking in legroom. Next time, for sure taking Adrian’s advice and lock-down the emergency exit row.
Once I got to Charles de Gaulle, my luck ran out fairly briefly. Turns out airTransat does not fly into terminal 2, oh no. It flies into the new terminal three, which is in no way connected to anything. Literally, not even a gate. Instead we land, and get shuttled to a large open building that just has a place for luggage, that’s it. It really wasn’t all that bad, but the walk to terminal 2 was. I didn’t realize in time that I could have just pushed a cart with all my luggage on it to the next terminal, so instead I ended up carrying it on my back for about 45 minutes. Not really the best choice. Once I get to what I think is terminal 2 I get in line for tickets, but a lovely, seriously lovely older Parisian woman asks me where I’m going and I say “Angers” (which I thought I pronounced correctly but it turns out I didn’t because she quite nicely corrected me that it was “Ahn-jay” not “Ahn-jairs”. Oh well, now I know! She also pointed me out in the right direction terminal wise, and was finally able to make my way to the train.
The train ride was really lovely other than the fact that I have probably never been more tired in my life. I would literally pass out and wake up five minutes later with my face squished and squashed against the window. The German psychology student facing me was not impressed… The western French countryside is absolutely beautiful, filled with dairy cows and neighbourhood farms. Oh and don’t forget the sprawling country estates and crumbling castles.
Once my journey to Angers was complete, Andrea, Jane and Natalie kindly met me at the train station, and helped me carry my bags. I am eternally grateful. The three days in Angers was filled with wandering around quaint French streets; feeling as if I was right back in residence; and being whole-heartedly welcomed by many of Andy’s numerous Belle-Bielle friends. We went on idyllic bike rides, picnics a plenty, and even to the beach.
Though at this beach, even though it was literally 28 degrees, people weren’t allowed to go swimming, not even wade in the water. Apparently it doesn’t open until May 1st, and those who were brave enough to wade into the water got quite the talking to from the booming loudspeaker that sounded exactly like a fat, French, male version of Charlie Brown’s teacher. As well, we dined at some lovely restaurants and in general had a fantastic time.
One little anecdote that wasn’t so great, was when Andrea, Jane and I were all biking home from dinner on the 21st, we had to bring our bikes along the sidewalk (that no one was even walking on) because the street was literally being ripped up. So what the fine young gentleman living on the third floor of the building I was biking next to decided to do was to dump water on those that biked by, namely me. “SEULEMENT LES PEITONS!!!!”, he screamed after just narrowly missing my head. Dick. Aside from that little blip, almost ever French person I’ve met has been lovely and not lived up to the stereotype at all. Though I have only been here for 4 days.
I ended up staying until the morning of the 23rd, and unfortunately this is where the trip starts to take a turn for the worst. Andy and I went to bed fairly late, girl talk and all, and after many late nights, coupled with jet lag and overall fatigue, my body basically shut down this morning. I woke up with a horrible headache, sore throat, extreme nausea and everything else that goes along with the flu… I haven’t thrown up for about a year I’d say, and sadly I ended that streak with 25 minutes before my train left. We hadn’t left Andrea’s yet because I could barely walk, let along carry a 40 pound backpack. Thankfully Andrea is the greatest person in the world, grabbed my bag, we were able to catch the bus that got us there for 8h03, when my train left at 8h09. The bus actually got there at 8h07, we ran like crazy (me gasping, panting and sobbing the whole time), Andrea flung my backpack onto the train, more or less flung me too and just as she did so the train doors closed and we sped off. Amazing. Eternally grateful for such an amazing friend. Thanks for the wonderful wee vacation before work!
Oh and I totally splurged and paid for a first class ticket from Paris. 13.80 instead of 12.00. Totally worth it.
(I spend today in Paris, and finally toured the site today but more on that to come!)