Monday 15 March
Plane, bus, subway, train (TGV), a perfect recipe for travelling, only needed a boat and the package would have been complete.
I left my point of origin via plane heading to Paris - Beauvais airpot. Was my first time flying, so unsure what to expect. A very helpful lady, who's been a flight attendant for over 25 years - she mentioned she has enough frequent flyer miles to fly to the moon and back - gave me a few hints about fighting the pressure difference and assured me there's nothing to worry about. Fortunately she was right, though ice crystals began to form on the windows, not really sure if that's normal.
There takeoff was fine, the landing a bit bumpy and the flight had some minor turbulence. Considering my fear of heights and motion sickness and the fact that I had fun it was a decent trip.
|Mountains and clouds|
The bus ride to Paris was a bit disappointing, deep down I was expecting some great differences, but France so far didn't have anything I haven't seen before, as far as scenery goes. Traffic signs were large, traffic itself was smooth, and the road was in good condition.
After a bit of searching for the subway - the nearest entrance was at the basement of a nearby shopping centre - there was the task of figuring out my location. A nice interactive map took care of both that and the path-finding to the train station. An even nicer ticket dispenser took care of the ticket, very intuitive, very easy to use. So far so good.
The thing I loved about the subway was its complexity. A maze of interconnecting tunnels, yet each train came at precisely 3 minutes after the one before. Punctuality in public transportation is something I'm afraid I'm not used to.
One issue concerning the train station was the location of the ticket booth. There were plenty of ticket dispensing machines, but none of them had Metz-bound tickets. Eventually the booth was located, and everything was successfully sorted in English.
The train, a TGV, was to leave in 45 minutes, a perfect time to call our contact once we arrived. Unfortunately we couldn't reach her, but a beggar managed to reach us and would not leave us alone. Rather unpleasant, I should be careful next time before admitting I can speak English.
The trip itself was rather uneventful, I might have fallen asleep a couple of times, I'm not sure.
Once there, we were contacted by phone and were told to wait, which we did, and after several phonecalls and passing eachother we finally met someone who knew where she was, and who we were and where we had to go - not before a fellow asked for an euro to buy a baguette.
|The train station|
|A water tower|
Bus and lodging
On a bus again, we were on our way to get lodging, or so we thought at least. One thing I liked is that we could buy tickets right from the driver, even if rather expensive at 1.20 euros. We found that out later, our escort was kind enough to pay our fare while we stumbled in confusion.
As for the lodging, after much explaining in a mix of English and French, we found out that they never received our confirmation email and all the rooms on campus were booked. A very kind lady called a local hostel and set us up there, she even drove us to the location.
After the room was sorted, it was time for exploring. I found the lack of shops confusing at first, up until when I eventually found one. Food, water, and back to the room, where I slept rather poorly.
|Saint-Étienne Cathedral at night|