So, I’m alone again, which is a SURE FIRE way for me to write more (as I don’t get to speak as much!!)
Today, was a travel day. I got a 7am train from Heidelberg to Mannheim, then awaited a Mannheim > Strasbourg train (which was terminating in Paris-Est). I have only gushy good things to say about the latter train, a German high speed ICE train, it travelled up to 250kmh and the best bit for me was the free wifi (as mornings here are when Australia is awake). That journey was only an hour.
It was like breathing sweeter air arriving in France. Ok, I’m delusional – I did suddenly understand most of the announcements, but I was slow to prepare my bags and had ever so polite French people barging on board making it hard for me to disembark. Of course, it was two charmany French gentlemen who eventually stemmed the flow.
Once on the platform – the obligatory French police office with a semi automatic weapon. This has always been a visible thing in Paris, but I have no doubt they’ve redoubled security efforts in recent times, and I saw two army kitted, semi automatic wielding men in Lyon station too.
Oh, not to jump ahead, but the train from Strasbourg terminates in Marseilles, but I took it to Lyon which seems like a local hub to hire a car and drive east toward Oradour-Sur-Glane. And as may have been foreshadowed previously – there was NO wifi on board. And two very loudly speaking germans were seat mates – and I still napped (and gave them side eyes when I didn’t. True to stereotype, they were in socks and sandals too!).
Now, momentous milestone time I hired a car! Ok, so I’ve been in hire cars, but I’ve never driven one, certainly not as the sole responsible party. I don’t think I even drove hire cars we got in the US last year, or in QLD the year prior. And if it’s not enough I hired a car, I hired a manual (usually drive automatic) in a country that drives on the other side of the world.
I do wish, for comedic purposes, I’d filmed some of my early moments in the car. At one stage Kate the GPS lady misguided me, and then says “Make a U turn when safe” and I chuckle and say out loud “I’m not French you know?”. Yes, Kate is speaking English, cause there’s only so much of a challenge I need at any one time!! The car was at the train station – so full on down town, one way streets. Thank you Kate, you were an extra 16E per day, and it’s not a euro wasted there, let me assure you!
All in all, there’s a ton of things I’m thankful for
- thanks Mum for buying the little bro a cheap manual to learn on (and… for me refreshing my 15 year old learners lessons in manual last year)
- thank you France for the fine weather – can’t imagine adding pelting rain to the adventure
- thank you GPS Kate, for your faultless directions… well except for roadwork
- thank you Renault Twingo for both having a cute name, but also a little icon to say ‘hey silly, up a gear’ or ‘down a gear’
- thank you for my stress/anxiety for somehow allowing me NOT PLANNING THIS PART, and driving til an arbitrary time (6pm) and finding a cheap hotel with a handful of nearby restaurants. Charming – not so much, what I need – definitely! Who knew I could do ‘unplanned’?
- thank you random Aussie friends who are awake late, and chat to me when I need it – it’s nice to share the ‘I’m doing this now’ with someone… even if only virtually!
I should also say – I actually have no idea where I am. I mean… I just turn when she said turn, and I set her to Limoges my destination. I did a few times think ‘are you sure honey’? As I was inclined to go via Clermont Ferrard. I did go via Vichy and two Louis Vuitton offices or factories in the lovely countryside. I any case, it’s ‘only’ a 2 hour drive to my planned destination tomorrow, and another night out and about before I need to return the car, so tomorrow can be less travel and more site seeing.