Europe Trip Journal – Entry 19 – 20: Tranquility

My second day in Nimes was unspectacular. After getting up eventually, I went into the city to get some breakfast. I settled on a salad in a restaurant close to the Arena. When I finished the salad, I wandered around in the city.

You could visit the Arena, however I was a bit confused by mixed messages. Some places stated that entry was free, but the sign at the entrance prompted to buy a ticket for 10€. There were also guided tours for a higher price, so in the end I decided not to visit the Arena from the inside. Part of my reasoning was also that the place was undergoing some maintenance currently, so not all parts could be visited.

A few streets further, I reached a big temple. Unfortunately it was closed right now, so I could only take some pictures from the outside.

It was pretty hot with the sun standing high up in the sky, so soon I took refuge in a supermarket. Here I bought some sweets, a liter of milk as well as a bottle of blue Fanta which I had never tried before. I also wanted to get some breakfast for the next day, so I decided to get some cereals. However I would not want to take the opened pack of cereals with me later, so instead I was glad to find a “cereal station” where I could fill my desired small amount of cereals into a paper bag.

Back at the hostel I was exhausted. It was only around 14:00 or so, maybe earlier, but I was already drenched in sweat. I decided to lay in bed to wait until the bulk of the heat was gone. In the end I ended up laying there for 4 hours or so, so it was early evening when I was ready to go for another walk.

I had eaten too many of the sweets I had bought earlier, so I had a sugar-induced headache. It was time for a real meal to dilute the sugar concentration down. I stopped at a restaurant next to the one where I had gotten the Camembert Fodue the day before and ordered a vegetarian burger. It came with fries, a small salad and I also got a local beer of Nimes with it. Nice.

Finally I went to bed after a day that felt a bit wasted, but hey, I’m on vacation!

The next morning I got up and went down to the kitchen to get some cereals for breakfast. When I later left the hostel, I forgot to take the half liter of leftover milk with me, so in case you are staying in the hostel near the train station in Nimes, feel free to take my Milk (its labeled “Paul” ;)).

My train had 15 minutes of delay, so I had to wait a bit at the train station. The ride was uneventful and quick (only about an hour). Arriving in Marseille, as usual my first destination was the hostel. This time the place I had booked was the farthest away from the station as it had ever before. I had to walk about 5km through the heat of noon. I rarely met any locals, I guess those were clever enough to avoid the heat.

Marseille is mountainous and my hostel was located at the top of a hill. After 1 and a half hours I finally reached the place, however they would only open in about another hour from now. I found a bench which I sat down on and relaxed a bit. From the outside the hostel looked a bit like a haunted mansion. I couldn’t make out any signs of life. Did I book at a closed place by mistake?

Will I ever escape this haunted house?

Eventually some people appeared on the premise, so I got up and after searching the entry for a while (I had to ring for them to open a gate), I went to the reception. The inside of the building was not what I had expected. It looked like a big mansion, with an atrium (I’m not sure if that’s how its called) and lots of intricate decorations and a mosaic floor.

Quo Vadis!

What a fascinating place. Outside was a big garden with some tables and a very nice view over the city. I heard that they also offered sleeping in tents.

Earlier that day I had noticed that I was running out of clean clothes, so it was time for laundry day again. I asked in the reception, if it was possible to do the laundry here and they said that there was a machine in the garden. I must have made a confused face, as the receptionist quickly followed with “I will show you”. She guided me to a small shed in the garden where there were two washing machines. I put my stuff into one of them and then asked where to dry the clothes afterwards, to which she replied that there were clotheslines behind the shed.

In my room I met J., a traveler from the US. We exchanged some few words, but he seamed a bit tired, so I decided not to bother him too much.

As I was a bit hungry, I decided to buy some groceries next. Some chips and some yogurts would be nice, along with two or three bananas. On OpenStreetMaps I located a Carrefour some 1.5km away and so I grabbed a small bag and started walking. It was only when I stood before closed doors that I remembered it was Sunday. On the way back I saw a sign for a pizza place, so I wasn’t out of options.

Back at the hostel my laundry was soon finished so I got it out of the machine and went behind the shed where there was a small maze of clotheslines. One was free so I put my stuff on a little plastic table and started hanging my stuff. Usually I dislike doing the laundry, as I deem it to be a very mundane, tedious task, but today it was different.

The sun was slowly starting to set and was sending its warm, friendly beams my way. Birds were singing and the tall grass was ticking my legs. A pleasant warm summer breeze was carrying the distant, muffled sounds of the city which was slowing down after the day. It was a summer evening in France. Suddenly all the exciting and all the wrong that was going on in the world faded into the background. For a short moment priorities shifted and the world seemed to center around me and my laundry. It was a perfectly peaceful moment of tranquility and I enjoyed it.

Later I decided to get a pizza from the place I had seen earlier. I got a tomato-mozzarella pizza with olives. The place had no tables as it was primarily focusing on delivery services, but luckily I was able to order in situ. After only 10 minutes or so my pizza was ready and I walked back to the hostel.

In the garden I met C., a woman who turned out to be from Germany as well. Since everyone at the hostel was about to get dinner, I decided to join C. and J-L., a French guy with a Star-Trek’y first name, at their table. C. explained that she wanted to move to Marseille at some point and that she was currently looking for potential places. Soon J. also joined us. C. noted that J. and I would look like brothers and we soon found out that there were some staggering similarities between us. Like me, J. was traveling for 3 weeks already and he also wanted to go further south-east next until ending his journey at the end of the month. He was also studying computer science like I did and was also currently making a living as a software developer, although he was doing front-end web development.

We spent the evening talking about all sorts of stuff in a vivid mix of French, English and German and it was so nice to forget that we were from different countries and just be people. J. had learned French solely through an app, which is quite impressive given how fluid he was able to communicate. Although I had learned French for 3 years in school I had forgotten most of it, so I had some trouble following the French parts. It steadily improved though as I remembered more and more of the vocabulary.

Then it was time to go to bed. I wasn’t feeling febrile anymore and my sore throat had mostly stopped to hurt, but now in the evenings I had the strong urge to cough. Since I didn’t want to wake up my room mates I tried to suppress it, but a super uncomfortable itch was making it hard for me to breath without coughing. It was so bad that it was shaking my whole body sporadically. In order to not wake up the others I spent some time on the toilet until eventually I was able to fall asleep in my bed without any more coughs. I’m not sure if this is a regular cold or what it is, but I will ask for some medicine in a local pharmacy today.

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