Well, I WAS going to go to Flander's Field, then to Bastogne to visit the war monuments, but the more I thought about it, the less appealing Flander's Field sounded. I then busted out a map, and saw that Bastogne is an easy day trip away from Cologne...So I came to Calais, France! The ticket was a bit more than I expected, and actually had three transfers, one in Belgium and two in France; it would test my train knowledge. Well, my first transfer went all right, but the second one in France was a bit weird. Apparently, I'm a pot-smoking vagrant, because once the train was en route, three freakin French immigration officials searched interrogated me on my where abouts, and of course the second they heard Amsterdam, they demanded that they search my backpack. They also asked multiple times if I had been in the coffee shops, I said no, which was a white lie, because I went into one because I heard they had free WiFi; they didn't, so I left
. You can guess that they didn't really believe me. Damn French. Well, I arrived in Calais with only a few ruffled feathers. The first TI I visited was utterly useless, and I was about to give up, when I ate a damn good pannini, and decided to try going on a random excursion, looking for a place to stay. This turned out to be longest damn random excursion of the trip, longest and most annoying. I quickly found a useful TI station, which gave me extremely vague instructions on how to find a really cheap hostel. Well, an hour and half of random wanderings go by, I still haven't found the hostel, and I decide to make my stupid walk useful by buying soap from a pharmacy. I asked a man there for some soap, immediately the 6 other employees became engaged in this quest for soap, and started chattering away. Someone who appeared to be the manager stormed out, started talking to herself, the employee, or me (I don't have a freakin clue), rearranged some stuff on a shelf, pointed to what looked like body wash, and left. I made the scrubbing the motion to the guy, trying to suggest bar soap, and a few minutes later he emerged from the back with a triumphant look on his face. It was great. (Oh yeah, I needed soap because I dropped mine in the shower at the Amsterdam hostel, and god knows when the last time the floor was properly cleaned). So after feeling somewhat accomplished, I continued my wanderings, saw some cool city scenes; then gave up my search, choosing to go with a budget hotel instead (I did all this while dragging that god forsaken suitcase around mind you). But! They have free WiFi, so it's pretty much worth the extra 15 Euros, considering I'd spend close to that on Internet fees at a café somewhere. It was about 1600 when I checked in, so I hauled my crap up to my room, then wandered the city for another 3 hours or so. The city isn't quite what I expected it to be, but it certainly is nice. It's a good intro to France, for sure. Tomorrow I'm going to head into Cologne, a day early. JUST to make sure I get snarreled up in Frances damn drug enforcement agency again.