Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Under the direction of two friends back home, I was told to go to Montpellier, France next. I was under the impression from my very small map that it was on the coast, but I was pretty wrong about that. Basically, it’s a college town, home to the oldest medical school in the western hemisphere and who knows how many study abroad programs. From what I could tell the town is centered around a very large plaza or promenade about two blocks from the train station. The narrow medieval streets wind out from there into dozens of plazas and gardens.
Although, my hostel closed literally every day from 10-3 for the worlds longest sieste, I quickly made friends with Marc, a Londoner who speaks fluent French. We ate dinner at an American burger place (I know I know) with a couple of his French friends and then went to discotheque where a DJ spun well into the night. One problem with France is that the beer is very expensive, so I think I’m switching to wine. After spending way too much money and dancing with nobody in particular, we retired to the hostel.
The following day I had the brilliant idea that I was going to bike to the beach. Remember, Montpellier is a beach town, or so I thought. The town has these awesome rideshare bikes, I am a huge, huge fan ( I think I already said that in another post). In any case, Marc tagged along but was a little hungover from trying to show up the American on how to drink beer (he killed me). He was originally not going to bike to the beach, but then we ran into two attractive Swiss girls who were going to do the same thing, and he became more open to the idea. After literally an hour and a half of trying to figure out how to rent the bikes (oh I forgot to mention that May 1 was not only a Sunday but a holiday in France, so everything--bike rental offices, trams, and buses--was closed) we finally hit the road for the beach. It turns out, the beach is 15 kilometers away (9 miles). And, if you don’t initially know about the bike path that goes there, it takes a very long time to get there. Finally three hours after checking the first bike out, we made it to the beach, hungry and exhausted. After several hours of listening to the Swiss mock most things about America and trying my best to mock them equally relentlessly, we reluctantly hit the bike path back for Montpellier. All in all, a great day.
I spent one more day in Montpellier before heading out East for Provence. I am now writing from Aix-en-Provence after a day in Avignon. I will blog about this later though. Sidenote, I really wanted a Budweiser and a hamburger yesterday after I woke up to the news about Osama bin Laden, but the reaction here in France, while one of relief, is a lot more muted, perhaps rightly so. I am pretty sure that I am in love with France and really wish that I knew how to speak the language. Although, it is amazing how far you can get with bonjour, merci, au revoir, and some sign language. More to come. Photos from Montpellier.