If I was asked to sum up my experiences in France with one word, that word would be-interesting.
Traveling through Paris one time, I was alone because John had a couple more games to play in Germany before he came home for the holidays. Me, alone. I was excited to go home, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I was scared too. I was ready for anything, but really wishing John was with me because…cut a long story short we got home at 2:00 am after a night of farewell drinks, and I had to leave for the airport at 3:30 am for a 5:45 am flight from Köln to Paris. Imagine me over the level of drunky pants trying to sober up with an hour and a half until I head to the airport. Well, it all worked out and I made the flight. Then, I arrive to the Paris airport and needed to get to my next flight which was in 30 minutes! Now I’m an anxious, sweaty mess trudging along a 70-pound suitcase jogging through terminals to catch my flight to Dallas. As it turned out my flight from Paris to Dallas was delayed and kept delaying. So I made good time, technically. To my dismay though, the flight got cancelled so I had to stay overnight in Paris. Gahh!!! It wasn’t a terrible experience, but it sure as hell wasn’t enjoyable either.
Toulouse, however, was a pleasant trip. John had a post season tournament so we traveled through the tiny country of Luxembourg on to the French countryside for 14 hours via coach bus. It was rather long, and I got super sick on the ride back to Köln but I still had a great time nonetheless. Driving through the winding countryside was beautiful. It was rainy and overcast so it gave the rolling hills and rooftops a stunningly eerie feel as if I was on my way to Hogwarts. And wow, there were vineyards on my left and right for miles! However it wasn’t grape season so the vines were bare, but it didn’t matter to me too much because it was still way different than traveling through Texas that’s for sure. Then hours after driving we arrived in Toulouse and got to stroll around the city. The roads and alley ways were filled with a variety of shops and bakeries. So many things to buy I wish I had an infinite amount of euros! One crazy thing to experience as a traveler though is how different the people are wherever we go. No matter where we go there’s always a distinctness that we find. How everyone lives and why they live where they live is just so intriguing to me. It definitely gives me a new perspective on life, and makes me realize that there’s a lot to be happy and thankful for.
The one thing that bothered me to no end was that I didn’t know the language! And boy they let me know it. I’ve written about it before, but anywhere I’ve gone in France it’s always the same thing. I’m a person who likes to submerge myself in a culture, so when I couldn’t overcome the language barrier I became stonewalled. Speaking from my own personal endeavor in Toulouse, I went to a supermarket a block away from our hotel to pick up some oranges, bananas, and Powerade for John because he had played two games and still had two more to go; we couldn’t afford him to cramp up or tire. So I grab the groceries, walk to the self checkout registers (because there was no line), and proceed to scan my barcoded Powerade. Then I attempt to ring up the oranges and bananas. Well that wasn’t happening, and I was clueless. I tried to search for item codes on the fruit and on the screen, but those are also no where to be found. At this point my anxiety and frustration are def con level five. It’s not like home where you can search, find a code and scan. No. So I’m standing there looking super foreign and helpless, and this young female attendant starts speaking to me in French with an aggravated tone doing abrupt hand motions and all. I’m thinking, like no way is this really happening right now. I don’t know what she’s saying, and honestly I’m about to lose my shit. I tried to tell her in French to please speak English, but she didn’t know how I guess. After looking like a complete dumbass and holding up the line for what seemed like an eternity, an English-speaking girl walked up to me and told me that I had to go weigh the fruit on the scale near the produce then print a ticket. Like what? I was so beyond frustrated at this point, but I had to do it. I had to complete my mission. I weighed the fruit, printed the tickets and went to check out. I finally had success! I put my emotions aside, apologized for holding up the line, and told the attendant thank you even though she was super irked by me. In full though, not knowing the language is a massive hurdle so learning French will certainly be on my list one day.
France is and always will be memorable. I hope to go back one day to explore the City of Love and other parts of France to embrace all that it encompasses. Even if my experiences were a little dim, I’m always excited for a ‘next time’.
SPECIAL MESSAGE: Regarding all of the hate and terrors taking place around the world, I hope that one day the we can put aside our prejudices and love one another because what this world needs is love and acceptance.