Friday, April 14, 2006

Installment 4: Pronunciation is the key

I have had a very interesting few days......

As I was too wrapped up in my stories of Paris I didn't mention my reason for coming to France in the first place. Sal (or her boss rather) arranged a 3 day stay and pass to Euro Disney! Although this wouldn't have been top of my of things to do whilst travelling I had a great time!

We caught the Eurostar from Waterloo to Lille which in itself was quite eventful. About half an hour into the trip a stream of men dressed in convict outfits started marching through the carriage. Sal and I thought it was pretty funny combined with the fact that it was 8am and they had filled the carriage with the stench of beer it made for a good talking point. It turned out that they were a rugby team travelling to France to play some sort of match although it seemed they were really only there to drink and talk to girls. Before we knew it the team had gathered around Sal and I and began singing God Save the Queen shortly followed by a boisterous rendition of Waltzing Matilda. Much to our disdain when we hopped off the train to change for our next train the team got off as well. We tried to avoid them but unfortunately found seats outside the bar which of course they had overtaken! All in all it was pretty funny and luckily we only had a short wait.

When we arrived at Disneyland we were both overwhelmed with how American it all was. We had expected a French looking hotel but it was more like an American yacht club. Needless to say it was extremely luxurious given that I have been staying in hostels or dossing with people. Disneyland was amazing. Caroline, Sal's boss, and her daughter Abby were with us and it really made the experience all the more better as Abby's excitement was quite contagious. Walking into Disneyland was seriously like walking into another world. There was this constant bubbly music playing and some sort of magic everywhere you looked. Although very commercial you definitely couldn't walk around in a bad mood or be unhappy at all. Sal and I felt like constantly skipping and singing!

and I had come to the point of mutual respect for one another by Tuesday evening. The day started off well with me navigating my way to the train station and buying my ticket to Canne, Canne to Paris and Paris to Annecy. Feeling quite proud of myself I set off exploring on foot. I got quite lost as I didn't have a map but found myself in some very narrow and authentic French streets. I hopped back on the tour that I had been on the day before (a smile and a day old ticket seems to be the way to get 2 days for the price of one) and travelled to the Louvre. Unfortunately it was closed. Although disappointed to not see any of the artworks it was very cool to wander around the buildings and look at the shops. From here I managed to get on a river cruise (again for free) and cruised down the Seine to the Eiffel Tower and back up to Notre Dame where I left the cruise and walked up to the Latin Quarter. After seeing Saint Germain from the bus I hopped off and wandered around the Latin Quarter. It was really beautiful. It reminded me of Lygon Street in Melbourne with all of the restaurateurs calling you to come and try their food etc. Whilst walking back across the Seine to catch the metro home I looked up the river and this is where I decided that despite its stench and filth I really did like Paris. It was extremely beautiful in the evening and being able to see all of the old architecture lining the river was pretty special.

A French film maker....
approached me when I was back at the hostel. He was quintessentially French. He was incredibly passionate about his film making and also about himself! I spent a couple of hours talking to him and as it turned out he has a film in the Cannes film festival and showed it to me on his computer. I have also acquired myself a copy - a special gift for a beautiful woman apparently. So Jean Philippe also changed my impression of Paris. While conversation was a little difficult and he was very much in love with himself it made me realise that perhaps this was what I was failing to recognise in other French people. That they are just incredibly passionate about themselves but also everything they do and that perhaps their resistance to helping foreigners is only a function of their national pride.

wouldn't be that difficult to pronounce or so one would think but apparently it is. On Wednesday morning I rise bright and early having visions of tropical surroundings, cocktails and owners of mega yachts swooning at my feet. On Wednesday morning I also arrived in Caen. Difference being that Cannes is pronounced Cunn and Caen is pronounced Cun. Disembarking the train I thought to myself this is much less tropical than I thought but still I held hopes for soft sand and youth. After acquiring a local map and not finding my hotel on it I asked for help only to be laughed at when I gave an address for Cannes and the madame pointed to the top of the map where it read Caen. Apparently Caen was not simply a French way of spelling Cannes for which I had hoped. So rather than entering the Gabriel-esque (from Desperate Housewives) paradise I had hoped for Id landed myself in a decidedly more Bree-esque town absolutely perfect for a spot of antiquing. It is actually quite humorous. If you look at a map I have ended up at the northern tip of France as opposed to the Southern - this will teach me for travelling sans map.

people are always friendly so after a day of walking around Caen I took myself to an Irish pub where I met 2 Englishmen from Dover. They really were my saving grace for the day. We had a few beers followed by a heated game of Top Trumps - a kids card game. This was absolutely hilarious. It was probably the first time since Ive left home that Ive had a really good laugh. I'm so glad that I met them as one, Jez could speak quite fluent French which led to us meeting some locals and me having a dance with an incredibly talented old man. Last night was fantastic so perhaps ending up North rather than South was a blessing in disguise.

Well wish me luck finding my way back to Paris then onto Annecy to meet Jess - I cant wait to see her!

Love to you all

Loz xx

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