Paris, for lack of a better word, was terrifying. Well, getting out of it was, getting into it was simply a little lonesome. It was my first experience with the whole language barrier thing. Once I arrived in the city, the task of finding my hastily booked hostel stood before me.
1st step: Find the metro.
solution: ask the bus driver.
2nd step: figure out closest stop to hostel.
solution: ask the metro people
3rd step: Find the Hostel.
When I got off the metro, it was dark and starting to rain. I found the closest decent yet kind of cheep restaurant to get food and directions. Choosing the rigatoni (which was absolutely horrid, I make better at home) and washing it down with a flat beer I received my sub par directions in broken english. I have been attempting to speak french while here, but so far my vocabulary consists of mostly "je ne comprand pas" and "parlez vous English?"
After wandering around half lost for a while I came across the "ARTY" sign which signified my place to stay. Once in and set up I made friends with a pack of international travelers. Can't recall any names, but lets see if I can do nationalities. Greek, Portuguese (or maybe french) Australian, Brazilian, Mexican, Italian, and Japanese. We struck up a great convo over wine concerning the usual stuff; humanity, the future, etc. and I really hit it off with the Brazilian fellow. Seems he's trying to start an international general awareness festival back home. we exchanged contact info and I excused myself to bed. It had been a long day of travel on very little sleep.
O.k, now for the car pick up.
When I awoke I packed up and headed straight to pick up my much anticipated vehicle. I was slightly nervous, but not too freaked or anything. Just because I had only driven standard 4 times, and just because none of these had gone to smoothly, didn't mean I was going to make a fool of myself or anything right?
Wrong. Very very very Wrong.
Upon getting in the car (which is way to nice for someone such as myself) and starting it up I immediately stalled, and stalled, and stalled. I literally stalled my way out of the parking lot while a line of angry drivers honking and shouting at me to move it built up behind me. I was about half a freak out from panic town and I hadn't even left the dealership yet. Eventually, after a few friendly drivers took pity and got out of their vehicles to help me figure it out, I managed to get the tank filled with petrol and get out on the road. I am simply amazed the car folk didn't storm out of the dealership, snatch my keys from me, and send me on my way shamed and on foot.
Luckily the exit to the freeway was directly beside the dealership I thought.
Once again I was completely and horrendously wrong.
I managed to get my car on the freeway only to find myself in 3 lanes of bumper to bumper traffic. I was kind of fine until the flow of traffic would stop, then I'd stall, and take 3 or 4 tries to get going. (I was noticing a slight improvement). I then took a wrong turn and found myself right back in the midst of the terribly confusing and congested city.
I managed to get back on the freeway, and vowed to myself that I wouldn't leave it no matter what. After that traffic came to a halt 5 or 6 times, and each time I remained stalled for a shorter period of time.
"As long as I stay on the highway I'll be fine" I sang to myself in a sing song voice. I believe I was slightly delirious by this point.
After cruising along somewhat successfully for about 20 minutes I found, to my utmost horror, that I was right back where I started. Somehow I had done a complete loop of the city!
I then turned to my GPS which I hadn't bothered with due to being focused on keeping me and my car alive and finally managed to escape Paris without any damage done to me, or my car. After about 2 more hours of driving I finally figured it out and can now pilot my vehicle just fine.
I made my way to the coast and at the time of writing this, am sitting on a bench in the smallish port town of Dieppe feeling quite accomplished.
What a day.