2006-06-01

Je suis arrivé en France

Location: Rouen, France
Status: alive and healthy with a sore butt

Well, I did spend several hours in the Ferry Terminal, but I didn't get much writing done. Nothing particularly special happened while I was there. I spent a while talking to a man from New Zealand who was also traveling around Europe, though mostly by train. When the time came to take the bike up and get ready to board the ferry, I took my bicycle out and was told to line up in the front of the line. There I got to trade some friendly banter with a group of bikers heading down to tour Europe by motorcycle. Nice bunch of guys. :)

I was among the first to board the ferry, so I had pretty much free choice of reclining seats. For those of you who have no idea, it is very cheap to book a reclining seat, which you are meant to sleep in on the trip over. The ticket for me and my bicycle was 19 GBP (btw, I traveled on LD Lines). Here is some advice on choosing a seat for anyone who may travel the same way: forget choosing a window seat. The seats really aren't that comfortable to sleep on, so choose a seat in an empty area in the middle next to an aisle so you can lay out your sleeping bag and sleep on the floor. This will be more comfortable, and you will sleep better than I did.

Anyway, the ferry trip was uneventful. I stupidly didn't take advantage of the currency exchange on board to change my remaining British Pounds to Euros, so now I have a rather useless 8 GBP sitting around because I haven't seen a Bureau du Change anywhere since arriving in France (though I have been told I may find them in the Tourism offices). Still, the 8 GBP looks kind of nice next to the 900 yen I have in coins because the Currency Exchanges tend to not accept coins.

The ferry arrived at about 07:30 local time, I got off, and rode into Le Havre to try to find a bank or a Bureau de Change. I was unsuccessful. So, I started heading to Rouen, where I was to meet with my next couchsurfing host.

It is interesting to note that there was no passport control or immigration. This seems weird to me. France is a Schengen country, and according to the US Dept. of State, US citizens can spend up to 90 days in Schengen Countries without requiring a visa. I assume that the 90 days resets when entering a non-Schengen country (note: the UK is not a Schengen country). However, with no Immigration control in Le Havre, how can they know when I actually arrived in France? Well, unless they read this. ;p It just seems odd to me, but I don't really mind, unless it ends up causing me trouble down the line somewhere.

It is kind of weird being in a country where you don't speak the language. I remember feeling this way when I first arrived in Japan, nearly 5 years ago. It took me nearly 6 months to feel comfortable with speaking Japanese. Right now, my French is almost zero. I can say some things, like greetings, ordering food, and some other basics, and I can often get the gist of things that I read, but my listening comprehension is extremely low, and my conversation ability is almost non-existant. Hopefully this will change as I continue to study and try to get by here.

Anyway, I cycled from Le Havre to Rouen using a route that I found using Google Maps. I had this written down in one of my moleskines, and remembered the map fairly well, so it wasn't too hard. It's not like I could have gotten completely lost. Worst case, I could have just followed the Seine River to Rouen, though that would have been a much longer ride.

The French countryside up here is absolutely beautiful: rolling hills of mostly farmland, old buildings, small villages often centered around a beautiful church. Passing through a lot of these places, it is easy to forget that this is 2006.

The ride wasn't particularly difficult, and the weather was fairly nice, but a little chilly (around 13 degrees or so). For once, I didn't have a headwind, but mainly a crosswind. However, I am nowhere near being in shape yet, so it was still a tiring ride. Also, my butt really hurts.

I made it to Rouen at about 15:00, made my way to the station and prepared to call my friend. This turned out to not be as simple as one would think. See, the public phones here don't take coins. One must buy a phone card from places where they are sold. Great. I'm very self-conscious about my language skills, but I had to get over that and go buy a card. There was a bookstore in the Station which sold telephone cards, so after building up a bit of confidence, I bought one, and then went out to call my next host, a guy named Ludovic. He came and met me in front of the station about a half an hour later and took me back to his place.

Ludovic is yet another really nice guy. When we got to his place, we hung out and talked a bit, then he had to go out to meet someone for a few hours. While he was out, I took a shower, which I really needed, and then used the computer a bit. While he was out, Ludovic bought some wine and some t-bone steaks, which he then cooked up when he got back. We ate, got happily drunk on the wine, talked, and then went out to go to a bar for a beer or two. While on the way to the bar, he showed me around a bit: the Rouen Cathedral, which is an absolutely amazing structure (pictures will come, eventually), some other churches nearby (Rouen is full of them), some amazing, old style side streets, etc. This is a fairly beautiful city!

Anyway, that was all yesterday. Today has been spent nursing a hangover, and cleaning up a bit. No plans for this evening yet.

Cheers.

2 件のコメント:

Thank you for the music さんのコメント...

フランスに無事到着おめでとうございます(^^)!
入国の時にチェックがないのは驚きですね。
フランス語での会話が難しいとのことですが、(Telephone card を買えるだけでもすごいですけど・・・)早く会話ができるようになるとよいですね。 でも英語がしゃべれてよかったですよね!私のように日本語しか満足にしゃべれないと本当にcomunicationの手段がないですから(笑) 
フランスはとてもきれいな町並みなようでよかったですね!写真楽しみにしているのでぜひ載せてください!
ところで、フランスって涼しいんですね。日本はずいぶん暖かくなりましたよ。気温が30度近くまであがった日もあったくらいなんです。
あ、Pasta楽しみにしてますね(^^) 
では、体調にお気をつけて!

Devon さんのコメント...

Al?

No idea how I ended up on the site. Was incredibly bored and started trying to find anything about some friends from high school.

Anyway, I think it's you. The pic looked like you. Sounds like you're having a blast. Take care....

-Devon Tweet (dtweet7@yahoo.com)