Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Installment #5: Caen to Annecy

I cannot wait to leave France! So many people that Ive spoken to love France and have had great experiences here but I have had such a bad experience that I actually would advise anybody against visiting here and I never want to come back.

Caen to Annecy....
was to be a very easy trip. I had prebought my train tickets so it shouldn't have been a problem. No such luck. I rose bright and early at 5.30 to be on a train at 6. Boarding the train was fine and I was looking forward to having a rest before getting to Paris to change for Annecy. about 5 minutes out of Caen the train stopped and didn't start again for an hour and a half. They made many announcements during this time but none in English and I found out that train conductors are either deaf or just as rude as the rest of the French people despite being employed in a job where they are supposed to help people. Finally another train came and towed us back to Caen where I got on another train for Paris. By this stage I had missed my connecting train to Annecy. As a result I got to know a filthy metal bench in Gare Lyon station quite well over the two and a half hours that I waited for the next train. Having been awake since 5.30 and drunk a 1.5L bottle of Evian I was in dire need of a toilet only to find that the toilets were on strike. How you may ask? I have no idea but I also have no idea why anyone would want to live in this horrible country however the strike does somewhat explain the filth and love for defecating in public places in Paris and it did make me feel a bit sympathetic towards those who do so as they, like me, were probably also restricted from the basic human right to go to the bathroom when required. A couple of hours later I arrived in Annecy. The sun was shining and it was very warm. Things could only get better.... one would think. After speaking to Jess I knew which bus I was supposed to catch but when asking for directions as to where to catch the bus my phone cut out and I was forced to approach French people for directions. During the next 15 minutes I got yelled at by 2 separate people and physically pushed off a bus by the bus driver all the while lugging around my 15kg backpack. After standing looking very lost and by this stage recklessly abandoned I sighted the bus for St Joriz and found my way to Jess! Everyone says that travelling is full of life changing experiences but I can honestly say that seeing Jess has been my first. It changed the grimace that had been on my face for the last week in France into a smile.

Is very pretty. Despite the rude bus drivers it is much nicer than anywhere else that I have seen in France. The town is surrounded by some amazing snow capped mountains and a massive lake. I can imagine that in the sun and during the summer it must be very beautiful. Jess and I walked around Annecy for about an hour and looked at all of the old buildings and alley ways. I then proceeded to step in a puddle that was really the size and depth of a small pond which resulted in a freezing and saturated foot for the rest of the day! I suppose it was karma though as I had just been laughing at one of the row boats that had capsized unbeknown to its owner.

We caught the train to Chamonix which is one of the ski villages on the border of France, Switzerland and Italy. Chamonix was amazing. I had the first truly enjoyable time since I left Sal in Disneyland. Jess and I had crepes for afternoon tea then went and played in the snow. It was just gorgeous. I have some fantastic photos from the snow and will try and send some asap. It was so crazy being in the snow when the day before it had been so hot. The other fantastic thing about Chamonix was that there were hardly any French people there. It was full of British and Americans. Everyone was really lovely to me and Jess and I danced until 4 o'clock in the morning.

Unfortunately Ive been a bit sick over the last few days and seem to have picked up a cold which hasn't been helped by the constant moving around and today I have completely lost my voice. I think its also because so many people smoke over here and after an hour or so in a restaurant you feel like you've been smoking yourself. Ive really noticed the smoke affecting my throat and nose. It is disgusting.

Well after missing yet another train we had to wait an hour and a half for the train home then got charged 25 euro for a ten minute cab ride. Despite this we both had a fantastic night however whilst Ive been trying to be positive about France and take all of the rudeness in my stride I still really dislike it and have no desire whatsoever to return. I cannot wait to get back to England in 2 days time!

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