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- Step 1: Where the sky is blue and the grass green

Paris Gallieni, 9 p.m

The departure is on platform 11. Once in the bus the official language is not French anymore. We will arrive at 9 p.m. Fortunately I found hosts on couchsurfing and have a "B" plan so I won't have to look for a hostel at night.I leave France with a sad impression of forgetting something, someone.

Two weeks and a half ago I left my flat in  Lyon where I was used to find golden hairs a bit everywhere in my room. Some of them still remains on my clothes and each time I find one, I smile.

It s the first time I travel that long by bus. For sure 48h traveling is not usual, even by car or train. The first 12h went very fast but in the morning I had some pain on my neck. In the bus you can t deploy your legs and each time the bus stop you go out for a walk. For this 2 days road picnicking I got the good idea to take French Camembert with me. I started to eat the cheese the second day of traveling of course because of easier conservation compare to fresh salad. At the end of the travel I could not make the difference between opening my bag or taking of my shoes in the bus. I had the feeling to be at home a little more because of this French typical flavor.

monastery

 

When I arrived, my hosts piked me up at the bus station and took me to their place which is not in the center. 20 minutes by metro and then 20 minutes by minibus. They were very nice to me and for about a week I surfed their coach. Well, their floor cause I was sleeping on the floor of their room while they were also sleeping on the floor with a 2 person size mattress. As they take part of the Gothic subculture, we had good talk about this topic and it was really interesting for me to have this point of view from the inside of their world. Not only thinking how crazy are this people, dressing mostly in black, with chains, piercing and dark make up for doing parties in disused factory.

children playground

 

They were very good guides and took me to many part of the town to see churches, squares, iron maiden but also unofficial sites like a bunkered tunnel the government started to build during world war 2 and stopped when the war was over.

The best evening I had were a barbecue with their friends and the evening I had in a pub when we saw the national qualification for the air guitar world contest.

memorial for the famines

 

Local impression:
The weather is quite hot here with a lot of humidity in the air. Even right after the rain, I'm sweating a lot by going up and down in the city. Many girls dress short tidy clothes, and for those who do so, there is usually many people on the balcony.

iron maiden

 

Public transport:
For the metro you don t have fences, you put a plastic coin in the slot and you go. The minibus is another story regarding the directions and the stops. No map of the lines, no signs for bus stops, no time table. Once I came back to the flat of my hosts by my own. No problem with the metro but then with the minibus it was free style.

I catch the minibus 503, gave 3 bank note of 1 local money to the driver. He gave me back 1 bank note but the price was written in big in the bus: 2,50 so I gave him a coin of 0,50. He gave me back the coin while complaining so I took it and went in the back of the bus. After 2 stops the bus was empty and I had to exit. It was the end of the line, I took the bus on the wrong direction but I understood it after asking the people. I came back on foot to the metro and then I was analyzing on the round about and the streets how the buses were going and stopping. It was so busy with so much different minibuses that it took me half an hour to understand where was the location of the bus stop I needed.

my contribution for the local subculture

 

Another interesting thing is how the people pay for the minibus. Most of them enter the bus without giving money to the driver. They take place in the bus, sitting or not and then give some money to the person in front of them. The money is going from hand to hand till the driver get it and if he as to give change the rest of the money is going back, from hand to hand, to the person who payed. I could not imagine something like that in France without having every person in between taking some % of the money for the service.

Here the drivers have eyes in the back. It happened to me that not everybody payed for the ride. Then the driver started to shout around "hey, come on guys, there is about 4 people that didn't payed". And the money came to him.

the river

 

I have an overall good impression of the town. Many things to see and to do. I didn’t feel tourists surrounding me and it took me 3 days to hear some French language in the street. I hope it will be the same for the next town I will see.

 

 

Another day, another feeling: Confidence
I was much more confident when everything was ready for the next step. It was not so complicated at the end.
A thought crossed my mind. Let's go more east.