Argile Ecossais Wallanklagebank

Friday, November 10, 2006

Volume II

Hey All!
Now I get to continue the P's.

I'll be mostly talking about my trip to the "P"yrinies.

Tuesday night (halloween) round 3am I finally decided on a train ticket to buy. I even used my new "Carte Bleu" my french Credit card with a little micro chip on the front that they use instead of swiping it (they still have the swiper thing though, but they like to use their "Advanced" technology more often than not. haha) Then I packed all the essentials in my hiking backpack and went to bed at 5am.

My train was due to leave at 7:05 or something so i got an hour of sleep and then rode my bike to the school parked it there at 6amish and quickly/ jogginly went to the metro stop a couple of blocks away. I was pretty worried because i didn't want to miss my train for the trip i wasn't sure if i should be taking. I had a huge fear of missing the train for some reason. I didn't want to mess up the trip or have to pay extra (important point) for another ticket if i missed it. I had never been to the train station. So because I didn't have any change on hand i couldn't buy a metro ticket! AHH, i just decided to hop on anyways, that metro stop didn't have the little chutes to walk through, just a few validating postes at the enterance. So i was freeked out about the metro cops coming by, but that was all I could do to make it to the train.

So after asking another couple on one of the metro trains if they were going to the depo and if i could follow them (which i did) I made it to the station. Where i immediately tried to get my ticket out of the automatic distributers. the internet said to do that and my travel book (which is actually out dated, i accidentily left my newer one at the laundry mat. it ended up in a friend's room) said that the people wouldn't be at the counter this early so i didn't even bother to go find the counters. Guess what!!! I didn't know the code to my new Carte Blue because the bank never sent it to me! And Guess what else? that is exactly what i needed in order to get my tickets. so I tried again and again, guessed 3 times on the code and my card got blocked. it was too early to call the card company. So i decided that i would just buy another ticket from the automatic distributers (important!, a large enough chunck of money) And there were... as is the French way it sometimes seems... Technical difficulties. no new ticket. So i was worried because i knew the trains were always on time and i just assumed that i wouldn't have enough time to go to the people at the counters to get help. so time passed, my train arrived and i didnt know what to do. I had missed my Train. This is the point where I go ok God what's up, am i supposed to be on this trip, should i have stayed home and got some homework done (which i'm quite a ways behind on), was i being selfish with this trip and all the other stupid things that go through my head when i dont think i've asked God enough what i need to do for every second of my life. So not knowing what to do i sat down and started to explain to God how crappy i felt about the morning. My worst fear was realized, but i decided to hold on to Jesus. And then at 7:14 i realized that there were people at the counters ("people at the counters" do they have a name? countermen?) So i went and got in line and the lady after about 5-10 mins of looking found me a ticket to Carcassonne. And it was Cheaper!!!! (OK God you win :) ) It left in an hour and i left with a little more money in my pocket. ( I am just realizing the significances of this as i am writing to you. )

So yea got on the train, i would reach my destination a little late but that was ok. We arrived at our first train changing place south of Lyons. Got on the train waited for half an our, went nowhere, discouvered it had "Tombé en panne" (sp?) Yep more probems. Had to take a train with standing room only ( I found a seat).

And i finally made it to Carcassonne, a middle age walled city!!!!!! Beautiful and Old!!!!!! I explored a little bit then went to catch a train for Toulouse (very big french city) . (from here on out i bought tickets as i went, i hadn't planned out my trip, it worked well) I called the hostle (very cheap dormitory type lodging popular in Europe, and in big US Cities too, very economical way to travel) and they didn't have any lodging so i just decided to go all the way west to the Atlantic Coast to Biarritz. I found the auberge (hostel) and luckily someone was awake because i arrived after hours. He went and got the night guard and he let me in a room. Next day i went downtown. (I was in Basque country now, where the Basque people have lived for thousands of years, their origin is not known... oooouuu mysterous) Signs were in French and Basque. They had a beautiful beach and there were people surfing in the ocean. Yes! The beginnign of november. the Surfers were in their wet suits and the people walking by on the side walk were dressed warmly ( i should have taken a picture it was very interesting). I went on a short train tour, got my feet wet in the ocean (while i was wearing shoes, i guess i cant judge tides very well, i gues i'm just a land lubber) walked out to all the beautiful rock formations sticking out in the ocean, saw big Catholic church, went to the ocean museum, ate oriental food, and a croque monseiure (sp) and bought a scarf downtown. I also saw, from a distance, the E shaped chateau that Napoleon III built for his wife "E"ugenie. Then i went back to the auberge dead tired from walking so much and fell asleep.

Day 3 of my jouney i waisted the first half trying to see Biarritz neighboring city, Anglet, and its beaches. I walked half an hour from the bus stop through town only to see that the beaches i could see were very difficult to get to, unoccupide and boringly flat. I didn't feel like lugging my backpack any further. So i went back to the train station and got a train ticket for St. Jean Pierre le Pied.

SJPP is the most beautiful place in the world!!! I took a beautiful train ride up into the Pyrinies (the mountain range between spain and France). it didn't look like much when i got there late in the afternoon but as soon as i found a hotel (no auberges here) and dropped off my bag i went exploring. just a few steps out of my hotel were the steps leading up to the citys wall. BEAUTIFUL!!!!! All the houses were white with red roofs (sp?) and trim, sometimes green trim. The official Basque colors are red, white and green like Italy. I promise i will get the videos and pictures of this mountian city on here asap. I even went to see the huge fort that was on the hill where there were more litterally overwhelming views of the white and read houses in the green mountains beneath a thickly clouded blue sky. I have never been in such a beautiful environment before. There was soo much beauty, i was actually getting sick trying to take it all in. (ha time for a Christian joke... I will probably throw up once i get to heaven. hahaha). I explored that area by the fortress. then i went down the narrow cobble stonned streets and found a pub to eat at. It looked like the menu said something about Jesus so I decided to have that (thinking... "is this like communion?" haha). I was not impressed by the meal. it was a little bit of thinly sliced saussage with some bread and hot peppers. It was good just alot less than i expected. I did however have the most wonderful Apple juce/cider in the world. I dont know what they did to it but it was treated some way to be creamy as well as appley.

The next morning i set my alarm wrong so i left St. Jean PP later than hoped for. That ment that i would not get to go to Andora (very small country between Spain and France. Which was probably alright because i did not have my passport with me. I might have went all the way there to just get turned away at the door. So i went back to Bayonne (near Biarritz) from SJPP by train to catch another train for Carcassonne. During my wait i went to the old center of the city and i bought a book about the Basque language. etxe (say éché in french; means house.) Once again i'm a language/linguistic nerd. (i definately want to take some linguistics classes when i get back to UM.)

I got to Carcassonne after dark and walked from the station to the walled City in which was my hostel. (speaking of hostels they are a pretty good idea, 16 euros a night about. though at a "hostel internatonal" hostel you have to pay for a member ship and 6 stamps(one for each hostel stay) (100 + euros). If you are traveling in multiples of 4 it might be equally cost effective to find a cheap hotel room for 4 at 60 euros (I know for one person you can get a room for 60, i dont know about 4, maybe my advice is missleading, idk.)) As I approched the entrance of the midievel city a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious experience awaited. (yes i did spell that correctly) I'll let you think about what that could mean for a bit...............................................................................................................................................
.................................................................................. Ok so what do you think? Yes as i approached the non drawable draw bridge on that dark and erie night a lady dressed in funny clothes with an umbrella stood in an arched cutout in the bridge entrance. I stared at her as i entered wondering "is this a statue or is it a person who is about to move." I was thinking "statue" as i entered because it hadent moved yet when all of a sudden she shifted, started twirling her umbrella and started singing in the most erie tone (perfect for the dark chilly night) "Some where over the rainbow!" As i walked by I said in a most insistant tone, "Oh, Tu m'as fait peur.!." Oh, you scared me.!." And why the freek was she singing a song from the Wizard of OZ! I had to stop and think about this all just inside the entrance of the outermost wall. I finally decided that I just HAD to get a picture with Mary Poppins. so i went back and asked if she was Mary Poppins, she was, (i believe i had seen a poster that said there was a Mary poppins play coming up or something, that is why it was so easy to identify her). I got someone to take a picture said "merci" and left as she started singing supercali-bla-bla-bla in the same strange tone. It was so wierd, first of all she was french so she had an accent which constricted her singing, then she sang it slowly as someone very pensive. So it was a "Chimm Chimminy Chimm Chiminy Chimm Chimm Charie, A life is as happy as happ......" as i left. It was a very perplexing experience.

(Note: The word itself has obscure origins, pertaining as to when it was first used, but the roots are fairly clear, as Richard Lederer wrote in his book Crazy English: super- "above," cali- "beauty," fragilistic- "delicate," expiali- "to atone," and docious- "educable," the sum meaning roughly "Atoning for extreme and delicate beauty while still being highly educable." This is the perfect word for Mary Poppins to use, being that she thinks of herself as incredibly beautiful but also extremely intelligent, which makes up for it. [by the way.]

So i finally got to the hostel. In my room were 2 Aussies, one Brit, and a S. Korean. All of which became my exploring buddies in The famious walled city Carcassonne the next day (they filmed "robinhood something or other" there.) I went for a walk inside the walls that night. it was kinda scary even though it was well lit. i didnt know what was around the next corner or in all those very thin windows. The next day I ate my free kornflakes with the S. Korean and he asked me what i thought about the book "The Divinci Code" ( i dont remember why) and that lead to a short discussion me saying that even my super liberal teachers at UM thought the book was a crock and that he should read the book "The Case for Christ." Amazingly he said "I will read this book." (did i already plug this book?yes, and this moment justified my whole trip (as did the first Godincident with the cheaper ticket. You don't meet someone every day as openminded about Christianity as this person, so cool) Next, he and I decided to go for a walk around the city. We barely made it out of the hostel doors when we saw a cool walled place where people were entering. we never went for a walk around the city because that thing that we saw was a very important part of the city. In side was the castle and lots of other cool stuff. ( i dont know if it was exactly a castle but it was an important part of the whole city. We went on what we thought was a tour with an englishspeaking lady (she walked us around and talked a bit) then met the aussies and brit who told us that they were going on the real tour. So we got in line and the french guy leading it said we were there at the wrong time. The previous confident-about-her-english french tour guide argued the S. Korean and I in. (go lady with the french berait (sp?)!) It was very cool we got to go on a tour of the ramparts. hopefully someday i will get the pics on here. After that we got an "audio" guided tour with some little walkie talkie looking things. After the tour we all went and tried some common fast french cuisine at a little place not far away from the Bascilica we wanted to visit. I had a quiche i believe and a mystery pastery. After we were done in the city we said our good byes (got a few email addresses) and my South Korean chum and i went to the train station. (of the two asians i have made friends with both had just quit their job back home and were traveling europe for a many-month voyage. They both said they would find a job when they got back home!! ) He bought sometickets and i hopped on my train and headed home for Lyon. I arrived after 10. It was a very chilly night, but the smell of burning wood was in the air (how that works in the second biggest city in France i dont know but it smelled really well.) It was the perfect (though many of us were complaining) way to make it back home.

Another wierd occurance happend when i got on the metro. A friend from my residence hoped on right after me. This is so crazy because we keep encountering each other all over Lyon. It's so crazy. we just end up being at the same place at the same time its like the 4th time its happened.

As far as the week after i got home i made an effort to be present mentally in class and to try to get some more homework done. I am starting to write my history final paper (I dont have to take the real test since i'm an etranger) on the French expedition to Mexico in 1861 that was made possible by the Civil War. I will also be starting to write my Roman Civilizations paper on the person and the history of Hannibal (the guy from carthage, northern africa,who rode the elephants into italy across the alps to fight Rome for the second punic war). Yesterday i also went to my Lutherienne eglise quite late and then invited Minhui (asian friend from church, on her vacation) over for Plantains (sp) beats, bread and cheese and a little homemade (failure) icecream. She is leaving wed so it was the last chance to see her off. I also bought a French flag at the train/metro/tram depot on my way home. I am proudly flying this dare i say "freedom" flag, blue, white, and red over the head of my bed. (I do not take responsibility for any French people I may have offended in the course of this previous sentence. haha i couldn't resist).

I also spent a fair amount of time at the mall this past week:
Bike Seat: 7 Euros.
Seat post: 10 Euros.
Security Seat Post Clamp: 6 Euros.
Hex tool set: 4 Euros.
Loose change needed to make the clamp fit: 7 US cents.
Memory of getting your Bike seat stolen while in your history TD on a wednesday night: EXPENSIVE, one third the cost of the stupid bike!
I also bought hat and gloves for winter.

Last bloggable occurance. The other day I was trying to say i wanted to get more done but i said "I want to be more productful." It took me a while to sort out this last word. Is it a real word? Not in my english-french dictionary. Productive. Sad.

And finally I want to appologize for the length of my recent blogs (if it really bothered you). It seems that i am getting more wordy and descriptive (10 double spaced pages worth). But I am fine with it. I may sound like Victor Hugo, who started The hunchback of Notre Dame with a hundred page background and whose edition of Les Miserables is about 4 inches thick, but i've been told by a friend that my Myers Briggs score says i am an authorative type of person (authorative, purposful miss use, meaning future writer of books.) . And because i am using this blog as my only source of memory of my trip so i dont want to for get even the smallest details as you can see. I appologize if you are bored to death by my blog. haha If this is you, maybe just stick to one or two paragraphs a day.

All for now,


Anonymous matt said...

Sounds like a great trip. I wouldn't mind visiting that part of France someday...

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie V. said...

That is quite a story Clay. I don't think I have done anything like that (yet!) I'm glad you mentioned the crepes! We have crepes here in Japan as well! They are so good!

2:05 AM  
Blogger lafalda said...

i looooove your blog! it makes me smile so much. btw, jen said that her french prof (or someone?) said they'd bring crepe to a party and she, too, thought this person was gonna bring crap. haha. miss you.

8:40 PM  

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