02 January 2011
I think I might want to move to Bulgaria (a prologue)
I was back in Bordeaux for only four days before my next trip. In this time that I had lost my credit cards came back to haunt me with a vengeance. First off, I had bought my train tickets online using my cards weeks ago (our plane was to leave from Paris), but somehow instead of being able to print them myself, the option to have them printed at the station had been selected. This required me to show my credit card- which I didn’t have. The first women I spoke to was completely unhelpful. Basically she was like “sucks to be you, now go away” (only in French). This kind of shocked me, so I got out of the way to consider. I got back in line, got another lady and asked her if she could speak English. And she said she couldn’t but told me to go down to one of the first windows, and that they could. So I did that, and the women there informed me that she couldn’t speak English either, but that she would try to help me anyway. I explained my problem, and she spent some time fixing it as best she could (by canceling my tickets and buying me new ones). Only one of my tickets could be canceled, however, so I ended up having to pay an extra 40 euro. *sigh*. So that was an unpleasant hour or so. By this time I was beginning to get concerned because I needed my parents to wire me money to pay rent, and it was after 5 pm, on a holiday (Armistice/ Veteran’s Day), in France. It turned out that there was only one place still open, I made it there an hour and half or so later. It was dark and raining. Everything in this strip mallish thing was closed except one sandwich place. As I approached it, I was talking to my mom on the phone. I walked by a car full of totally sketchy youngish men. And the sandwich place was swarming with them. The sandwich place didn’t seem to have a western union, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to get close enough to find out. In fact, I was pretty sure that if it did happen to have one, I would get mugged on my way out anyway. Then the sketchy guys started calling me out, which mostly consisted of them saying “English”. So, I gave up on getting money. I got out of there as quickly as possible.
I spent most of dinner staring at my placemat, hoping that somehow my host family hadn’t noticed that I was there. Unfortunately they did, and I received a 15 minute lecture on what an awful human being/ host student I am, etc. It sucked.
Early the next morning, I left for the Pessac train station. Only when /I arrived there the sign said that the next train would be coming at 11 or so. I was more than 15 minutes early for more train, so I was certain I hadn’t missed it. Furthermore, this train is kind of a commuter line, and it runs every hour or so. There is no one else by the tracks (this is a tiny station), and the station was completely closed, so there was no one I could ask about it. So I start to get a bit nervous. I consider my options: I have 45 or so minutes to get to the other train station – which is only possible on public transit if I get extremely lucky, or I can wait here and hope that a train gets there. But I WOULD get to Paris, I was determined. About 3 minutes later some other people showed up, looked at the sign and joined the freak out party. Fortunately, all of our freaking out was for naught, and a train showed up about 3 minutes later. I got on it even though it didn’t think it was technically the train I booked (it takes about 6 minutes to get the other train station, 5 minutes of which are spent pulling into the station- so they have no time to check tickets anyway). I got on my train to Paris with Tristan without further event, THANK GOD.
When we arrived in Paris, I stopped at a western union on my way out of the train station to pick up my money. Then we had a few hours to kill before getting to our bus stop to go to the airport. Firstly, we had to print out a confirmation for a taxi in Bulgaria we had booked with our airline. This led us to decide to go towards Sacré Coeur, because it’s in a less classy neighborhood, and therefore more likely to have internet cafés about. It took us a bit to find an internet café of the appropriate sketchiness (selling probably stolen jewelry on a bright red faux velvet window display is a no-no).
Since we near there, we went to Sacré Coeur, and laughed because we were surrounded by tourists who were like “OMG PARIS” and we were like “*shrug* we’re just here because our plane leaves from here, what’s all the fuss?” Then we got attacked by gypsies, which basically consisted of them attempting to get us to sign something us, and us having none of it, and them surrounding us and trying to corner us.
Eventually we made our way to the bus stop, where we would take a bus to “Paris-Beauvais Airport”. We paid FIFTEEN euro, one way. And then sat on the bus for 90 minutes or so, to go to an airport that would have been more aptly named “Middle-of-nowhere Airport”, but I suppose that isn’t very catchy.