Days of Bayonne

Trip Start Jul 11, 2008
Trip End Aug 06, 2008

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Flag of France  , Aquitaine,
Friday, July 25, 2008

    Ok, I've got a few days to sum up here.  On Tuesday I spent 9 hours on trains.  But it wasn't as bad as it sounds.  First was the Eurostar, I slept from the time we left in London, until we resurfaced in France.  I had arrived at the Gare de Nord and used my skills learned from Helena to get across town on the metro free of charge.  Arrived at Montparness rail station, had lunch there, ordered completely in French and enjoyed the amazing bread that they have here.
    One thing that I have found is really really cool, especially when traveling alone, is my listening to my ipod in the chaos of the city.  I love it, it puts in a different world and a different mood.  This was great of London where I was all on my own, I could just travel by foot or Underground and just be cruising.  This was one of the times I truly felt independent and completely secure in my loneliness and just loving life to the highest ability.  The was an experience I will never forget, cruising through the crazy, chaotic, fast pace city of London with John Mayer or Marc Kohan "Walking in Memphis" ringing through my body.
     I got on my TGV train, which had a complete new interior of bright purple and orange colors.  On the train I was a table with two girls from Paris who were traveling down to Barritz to visit family, and across from us was a couple from Holland who looked about my age, another guy from Paris who was 18 and a grandma.  This group was a lot of fun for the 5 hour ride which turned into 6 ˝ hours due to a fire near the tracks in central France.  I was truly speaking all French now.  By the end, we had all exchanged msn addresses, but it was nice to have some people to correspond with and share stories. 
This is the difference for me in England and France.  Never in England did anything like this happen.  I guess I just get along better with the French.
                I arrived in Bayonne to find Coralie waiting for me.  We drove about 15 minutes to her house and I met her family.  Her mom was born here and only speaks French.  Coralie speaks English but is very shy to use it.  Her dad speaks a few words of English, but we communicate very well.  He is very enthusiastic about it.  As soon as I got there and he heard that my dad as well is a contractor, we went into a 45 minute long demonstration of what he does for work.  It's really interesting actually.  In this area they don't use as much wood like we do back at home for building homes.  He too built his family's house but with oven heated oxygen filled composite bricks.  They are lightweight, strong and insulated.  He even gave me a small piece to take home to show my dad.
                Coralie is 18 and can drive so the first night we went out to a Oceanside restaurant/bar with two of her friends and had a drink.  This region is really beautiful.  There is the ocean, surrounded by very small hills/mountains.  It almost reminds me of the Central California area like San Louis Obisbo and Pismo Beach.  The weather here is much warmer, similar to at home.  At night it doesn't get cold like Paris and Berlin. 
    The next day it was 34 degrees C.  We packed a lunch and went to the beach with Pauline.  This was fun.  The water is warmer than Pismo but colder than Maui.  I felt like I was in Hawaii again, jumping in the water and attempting to tackle waves and flaying around trying to body surf without any form of board.  We spent the majority of the day here, equipped with our French-English dictionary, it was a lot of fun!
    This night we went out in the City of Bayonne.  We stopped by a bar, had a drink.  The whole bar thing is different her than at home.  It's much more elegant.  When I say bar, I mean, a little road side or water side café table in the late evening in a peaceful setting.  No one is visibly drunk like you would see in downtown Chico and it's a much more mature setting.  We walked throughout Bayonne and I took some pictures of the beautiful city at night.
    Slept in Thursday.  Around 14:00 (yes, I work on a 24 hour clock now).  In just a couple days, my French has got incredibly better.  I speak about 95% French with Coralie and her friends.  They speak about 85% French when responding to me as well.  At 14h we went into town with Pauline again.  This time we were the Scooter Brigade.  Yes, those mopeds that we make fun of at home, everyone has them here.  We went through some shops in Bayonne.  With the bad American Economy, everything costs about $100 for me, so we settled for ice cream. 
We made it over to the rail station and once again I've got more problems with trains.  I needed to make a reservation for Sunday to head back up to Paris.  I was actually going to get to see the final leg of the Tour De France in Paris.  With my luck, all trains for this weekend are sold out and I can't get to paris until Monday night.  This is the worst of both worlds because, not only do I miss the tour de france, but the Fete de Bayonne starts on Wednesday.  I'm one day late for the Tour de France and 1 ˝ late for the Fete de Bayonne.  But, there is nothing I can do about this.  It's unfortunate I know.  But Coralie's family was more than welcome to allow me to stay an extra day.  I just will have a very tight schedule still fitting in Normandie and Amsterdam next week.
We came home, had dinner, meat and mashed potatoes, just like back at home.  We went out that night with the car, me and 4 girls.  We went to a Karaoke bar, yes I know, most would say this my element, but they had a limited number of English songs and none of which I knew well enough to sing.  The girls sang a French song and I video taped it, lots of laughs.  I am starting to get verbal reactions in French.  For example, accidentally bump into someone and the first thing I that my brain registers to say is "Pardon".  It's pretty cool to see the beginning stages of your brain starting to speak in French.
    We made it home and now here I am the next morning writing to you.  I'm not quite sure what the plan is for today but Saturday night I know we are going out to another club.  I truly need my dress shoes back at home,  but they think I will be ok with my new Nikes.  I love to dress up and I hate not being able to do a complete job.  Rochelle the shirt works great.  I love it.  I haven't sucked it up enough to wear the silver one, it's a little crazy, maybe in Paris next week  were anything goes.  I even considered buying a pair of shoes here in Bayonne, but when we looked, it was going to cost me over $75.  Which I don't have right now.
    This is by far my longest entry!  Hope you can get a sense of my life over here.  I'm just over half way through and I'm having the time of my life.  Talk to you soon!
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