Leaving England Behind (Nathan)
Trip Start Sep 03, 2010
59Trip End Oct 27, 2010
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Where I stayed
We spent the first half hour or so up on deck, watching the white cliffs of Dover recede into the distance. There were a couple seagulls on the railings there, just kind of hanging out, standing there staring at us. One seemed to be having trouble keeping his balance, and kept wobbling around and fluttering his wings, while the other just stood like a statue, save for the jerky swiveling of his head
The actual ferry ride was so brief that I couldn't believe they'd put so much effort into filling the ferry with shops and things to do- an hour and a half later at most, we arrived in France. Another long train ride took us from Calais to Paris, where we got off at Saint Denis and started looking for our hotel. As usual, Glennica had booked one in advance, but we had a little trouble finding the street. The area we were in looked kind of run-down, not at all like you'd expect Paris to look, and there were people selling roasted corn from these stoves they'd rigged up inside shopping carts. I half-expected to see a bunch of people gathered around a burning oil drum, warming their fingerless-gloved hands. Of course, over the next few days I realized that it was actually a fairly nice neighborhood, and that the seedy-looking appearance concealed a lot of hidden history and culture. It looked a lot better by daylight, and it turned out there was a large, thriving marketplace just a block or two away from our hotel, though it wasn't immediately obvious.
The hotel was a bit of a let-down... it was so cramped that I felt like I was living in a submarine, and 80% of the lights in the room seemed to be burned out. But it really wasn't so bad, and we were pretty comfortable there for the next few days, most of our time having been spent out sightseeing anyway. That night we ran into our first problems with the language barrier, having a difficult time ordering dinner from the hotel restaurant. Luckily my high school French came back to me a bit over the next few days, and we had a phrasebook we'd purchased on the ferry to help. By the time of my writing this, I'm kind of enjoying speaking another language (though it's now German instead of French), even if it's only enough to order food and ask for directions.