The concrete and constant rush of Paris became a little too much for us interns last week, and trains to the Riviera were booked for some beach time and relaxing. Little did we know, it is not always hot and sunny in the south of France, particularly when it isn’t actually summer… Arriving to Nice with bikinis and sunglasses but no coats, small boats or wellies was a rookie mistake, but we persevered and took to the Promenade des Anglais for a windswept and stormy first experience of the sunshine city.
Our trips to Tarifa – the European wind surfing capital and most southern port of Spain – inspired a trip to Northerm Africa, in which I was convinced by the lads that I needed to completely cover myself from head to toe in clothing in fear of being thrown in a Moroccan prison. It turns out this was completely unnecessary and I looked like I was going to a funeral. From the moment we stepped off he ferry we were thrown into a completely new culture, our Moroccan tour guide dressed in little red hat, a dress and slippers picked us up and brought us on a tour of the city of Tangier, where every Tom, Dick and Harry seems to own a palace in the hills.
The holiday plans to the Spanish Costa del Sol started off quite typical, intentions of getting a tan, strutting our stuff in Marbella’s Ocean Club and lying by the pool for the day.. In attempt to achieve the maximum tanning time we took a 7am flight from Dublin to Malaga, which meant getting up at 4am, and for myself, falling asleep (indoors) for 5 hours as soon as we arrived in Spain and waking up to the sunset. Note to self – there’s reason that the 7am flights are the cheapest ones.
Last week, in attempt to see somewhere new without having to fly, TGV (Train Grande Vitesse, ie. Very Fast Train) tickets were booked from Reims to Luxembourg! 2 hours by TGV with one stopover, sounds easy, right? It would be if your first train wasn’t feeling very fast on that particular day and decided it would arrive too late to make the connecting train. Pressure was on, we found a train man and explained the situation! Being French he just said “Ahhh, buuhhh…” and we quickly moved on and found someone a little more active in their train role. 10 minutes later he had us literally racing to the next train station in a taxi with another French lady, and we were back on track.. Oh le stress!
Week 6 in Reims and it’s only now that I finally stayed around for an entire weekend and acted like the true tourist that I am to see what exactly there is to do for a holiday maker in the Champagne region. With my fellow Galwegian Eileen, we followed the blue dot on Google maps across Reims to the impressive Taittinger champagne house and cave. Expecting a full on very French affair I was surprised to be greeted by English accents and high heels!
The month of May in France holds a record number of 4 bank holidays! And unlike in Ireland, they can fall on any day of the week. I really did pick a great month to start working.. So with Wednesday and Thursday written off as jours fériés , I managed to take the Friday off and take advantage of the 5 day break by heading to the sunny (I wish) south.
As it was last minute and of course on an intern’s budget , Covoiturage came into play once again! The local archaeologist brought me to Paris which was followed by an array of metros and RERs in wrong directions. Eventually I arrived in Grigny to set off with a geography teacher and his girlfriend to Bordeaux. 8 and a half hours later I was getting a train to Perigeuex, which apparently is not pronounced the same way as Paraguay, apologies to everyone in the office who thinks I’ve gone to South America.