Vive la France!

Day 12 – June 21 

We woke up at 5:30 and rolled our suitcases through Venice to the train station, while it was still cool and not crowded outside. The train to Milan (our connecting station) was great and comfortable, but we had to run to make it to our train to Nice. This train was awful.  No A/C and we couldn’t get our luggage to our compartment because of all of the people and luggage clogging up the passageways. Zehra went in the compartment first, and there were people in our reserved seats, so she showed them her ticket, and they got up to go out. A crazy German lady, who wasn’t even supposed to be involved, started arguing with Zehra about how the other girl should be able to sit in OUR seats and not us!!?? It was crazy, and Zehra had to go talk to one of the train people walking around, but we finally got it settled. When the crazy German lady left, some Pi Phi’s from Purdue and a guy from Paris came in our compartment and sat and talked to us until we got to Nice. It was so beautiful! The train view of the water and mountains/hills were great. I was able to use some French to reserve our train tickets to Marseille and to ask directions to the tram, which was cool. When we got to our hostel, it was actually a hostel for once! We had a room and bathroom to ourselves, but it was very very small and the whole place was huge with only English-speaking people, whether they were from Australia, England, Ireland, Canada or (mostly) America.  Not really what we wanted to be around, since we can be around English speakers and Americans at home! Anyways, that night was the Music Festival in all of France, so French bands were set up all over town, singing American songs like “Hotel California” and “Highway to Hell” with their French accents, haha. We sat on the beach and looked at Nice at night, which was gorgeous! 

Day 13 – June 22 

I went to Mass at the cathedral in Nice in the morning, and they just so happened to have a huge orchestral/choral Mass! It was beautiful and really cool to hear everything in French. Afterwards, Zehra and I walked on the rocky beach (where people were laying out everywhere, even with no sand and only rocks!) and put our feet in the Mediterranean.  It was cool but not too cold. There were the typical French women with no tops on and men in speedos, but no one gave them a second glance and everyone was just hanging out on the beach. After an afternoon of hanging out in Nice, Zehra and I realized we wanted to see the French countryside, so we read our travel guide to France and picked a place in Provence called Vaison la Romaine and Orange (where the train station and some restaurants are). That night, we packed up, then watched the intense Italy v.s. Spain soccer match on the big projector with the other people at our hostel – fellow Americans, but also an Irish guy, Australian guy, English girl, and some girls from Singapore. 

Day 14 – June 23 

This morning, Zehra and I ate a delicious breakfast provided free from our hostel: homemade bread, honey, jam, tea, juice, really good cereal, etc. We hopped onto our train to Marseille (and then Orange) and ended up sitting with 3 Finnish guys who were really nice (even though our A/C was broken… again, hah) and on their way to Barcelona. When we got to Orange, we looked around and for the first time realized we were in France! There were no bilingual signs anywhere, and I had to ask where the bus came (it had stopped running) and then where a taxi was, since we didn’t know how to get there. Luckily, we met a Canadian guy before we could get in touch with a taxi, and he told us this city is really small and we could walk to our hotel, so we did! It’s a great place, right in the middle of the city and 10-15 min from the train station. The restaurants didn’t open until 7, so we took a quick siesta and went to an amazing Provençal restaurant. The flavors were incredible; I got the salad with goat cheese on toast, beef tenderloin, French fries and cheese while Zehra got a duck salad, lamb with stuffed tomatoes and green beans, and chocolate mousse. AMAZING!! Oh, and of course there was crusty, delicious bread too. After our dinner we walked around and stumbled upon a Jazz festival in the town square. The music wasn’t that great, but it was fun to have something to listen to. 

Day 15 – June 24 

Today, we went to the once-a-week market in Vaison la Romaine, which was INCREDIBLE! Everyone there was so nice and at ease, and everything was so much cheaper than we had been used to in the big cities, it was a nice change! Everyone is big on whistling and humming, and it was so nice to see everyone in a good mood, selling their homemade goat cheese, bread, honey, vegetables, herbs, olive oil, fruits, etc. Zehra and I looked around from the morning until it shut down at 1:00, then we ate our lunch of 1 Euro massive loaf of bread and goat cheese while looking at the fields, mountains, houses and vineyards. This is the kind of France we wanted to see! We ate dinner at a yummy Provençal place, this time trying the seafood out for a change. Of course, it was amazing and the presentation was beautiful, with the whole shrimps arranged on top of the fish and staring at you, haha! We walked around town for a while after dinner, then called it a night.

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