Nice to Avignon

I woke up the morning, my head feeling squashed and I felt as sleep-walking as I went to the bathroom to clean myself up a bit. There was not much to do to the hair, it looks as it looks and I didn’t have energy to bother. I want it to be straight on the side where it’s short, but some locks had bent and stood out in some places. My eyes had begun to get dark rings and my face was a little shiny from the hot and moist air.
I said goodbye to Fransesco and made sure I had everything and walked outside. It was now eight o’clock and the bus arrived shortly after I reached the bus-stop. I had no troubles getting on the subway and finding the train-station. I wanted to buy something to eat, but the clock was running faster than I was and I had to get onto the train. I had some bread in my bag, though nothing to put onto it, it was dry but stilled my hunger.

The train didn’t look like I thought it would. It was more like a night-train remade into a day-train. There were huts with six seats in each, I was sharing with five Italian women. None of them spoke English. The backs in the seats were too straight and the neck-rests didn’t give enough support for me to rest my head against its side. As I fell asleep, I tilted over and nearly fell off the seat. So no, I did not get a lot of sleep and the little I did get was nor comfortable or good. I had fragile dreams about Milano and the streets we had biked, about empty fashion-shops and warm ice cream.
I was too tired to get upset when I woke up forty minutes after the departure-time, and the train still was standing at the station in Milano.
I missed the connecting train to Nice in Venti miglia.

I asked at the information desk what to do, the women hardly spoke English but referred to the next train leaving in an hour. I walked outside, wanted to find something cheap to eat and seeing this small town that I was stuck in for a while. It might sound worse than it was, the town was quite beautiful and there was a white beach stretching far away. The Mediterranean sea, was gorgeously blue, green closer to the shore, and the smell of salt was blended with the peoples’ sweat and the smell of grilled meat whirled it’s way onto the streets. Luckily the former smell was merely finding its way from the patios, holding my breathe for a while when walking past was enough to escape the worst of it.

On the train I met three Italians, one girl in my age and an older couple. The man had hitch-hiked a lot in the 60s, when he was in his twenties, and wanted to know how we did. So he added me on facebook. Amazing. This strange social media is spreading not only over the world, but also through all ages.
The scenery we passed with the train was stunning. High mountains on the left side, a deep blue ocean on the right. Time to time it felt as if the train was flying in the air in between the two, no ground to stand on and no railway underneath us. As I went to the bathroom I was surprised by the sanitary solution. As I flushed the toilet, the stuff went right out onto the railway track. I wonder what it smells like a hot day, I wouldn’t want to live close to it or walk by it.

I arrived in Nice at about three pm, met Jiaxin by the old town and we walked around for two hours or so before catching a bus to a spot close to the highway. We stood there for two minutes before a car pulled over. We wanted to go to Avignon, and never thought we would get there in one ride. But we did. The two guys were going to a place just north of Avignon, and we arrived two hours later. By then the sun had started to set and it was getting dark. They dropped us off by the exit road and we walked along it to the paying station. As we watched the sun go down behind the trees we realized there was a narrow bridge, the cars driving very fast across it, which we had to cross. Many trucks went by fast and heavy, but there was a thin kind of sidewalk (but not really a sidewalk since it’s forbidden to walk there) which we used to cross the bridge.

At the pay station we had five cars stopping in two minutes, none of them heading towards Avignon but in the other direction. But the sixth car, a young guy who was tremendously happy to practice his English, gave us a ride right into the city center, dropping us off right by the entrance to the old city within the walls. We were in Avignon.

Our biggest problem now though, was not where to go or what to do, but to find a place to sleep. We were happy to sleep outside, it was very warm and no rain in sight, but we wanted somewhere to put our bags, they were getting heavier the more tired we got.
We asked a man where to find a cheap hostel, and he told us there was a camping right across the bridge. We walked past the bridge and asked for a tent to rent, but there were none. We had to stick to the hostel. Our daily budget on ten euro each broke there and then. Eighteen euro per person poorer we had a good nights’ sleep, and a place to keep our bags the next day as we walked around the city.

Avignon by night was gorgeous. Lamps lighting the castle, churches and the wall. People everywhere, partying and artists playing. There were dance-shows on the street and people singing and playing all sorts of music. We had a late dinner by midnight on the stairs underneath the castle. At one we walked back to the hostel, preparing for the next awesome day in Avignon.

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