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Highlight: Grinding on the dance floor in Nice with a hot girl from Edmonton.
Lowlight: Scaring a bunch of American girls in Avignon by being polite and friendly.
Fun Fact: Avignon was once the residence of 7 popes and 2 anti-popes. Not sure what an anti-pope is, but it has an ominous ring to it. Maybe they were for a church celebrating the anti-Christ.
Money spent: €32.40
Ben Frustration Index(BFI): 0
Pairs of clean underwear left: 8
Book Page: 345

Today we left Paris for the warm beaches of Nice with a stop in Avignon on the way. We arrived at the train station with 5 minutes to spare. It’s so anti-climatic when we arrive that early. I love the thrill of running for the trains.

The train rides from Paris to Avignon – just lots of reading and cribbage. On the trip to Avignon there were two young American girls. When we arrived in Avignon we were both looking for the same bus into the city, so we started talking to them. I’ve never met two more reserved, tight-lipped, and fearful people before. I realize Ben and I are extremely intimidating – I mean we spent 4 months in the gym lifting weights and creating huge bulging muscles before we left, so I guess their uneasiness was justified. It was funny though, because we talked to them at the station, and then we ran into them like 5 more times – on the bus, at the train station in town, at the bus station. At one point we were following them down the street, them 20 feet ahead of us with their rolling suitcases and us behind with our packs. We were much faster, but had to force ourselves to walk slower so as not to overtake them and scare them – so we just stalked them instead. And pretended we were young Canadian backpackers preying on innocent, American girls in Europe.

We thought about checking our bags at the train station, but it would of cost us 6.50 each for 72 hours. We only wanted to check our bags for 4 hours, but it was the same price. We said screw it and walked around the whole time with our gear on, which only made us more obviously bad-ass tourists. The weather was warmer than anything we had experienced so far on the trip. Probably because we were leaving Northern Europe for the balmy Mediterranean area.

We bought bread, cheese, tomatoes, and strawberries at a grocery store and ate lunch on the bank of the Rhone River looking at the famed Pont d’Avignon bridge. Then we hiked up a steep hill to the top of Le Palais des Papes (Pope’s Palace). On the top we were greeted with a charming little park and great views of the river and the bridge. It was hard work in the +29C heat. We were walking through the park when we were stopped by a beautiful young lady and her friend who recognized as Canadians from Ben’s “Everyone Loves a Canadian Boy” t-shirt. Dana, an exchange student from Thunder Bay, and Marianne, a Swiss student, chatted with us for a while before we swapped emails and snapped some pictures. She’s the first Canadian we’ve met and we were the first Canadians she’s met in her travels, and she’s been in France since January.

On our train trip to Nice, we stopped in Marseilles for a prolonged stop because of track problems ahead. There we were joined in our carriage by a talkative man in historic garb, complete with powdered wig and white-painted face. And oddly enough he had 2 cats, one perched on each shoulder. At first I thought they were stuffed. But they were real, much to Ben’s fright. He called it his worst nightmare come to life.

When we pulled into Nice in the evening, we had no reservations for accommodation, but a list of a few hostels we thought would have rooms available. We got a map and started walking to the first when we were approached by an old French lady who said: “Reservations?”. We told her we didn’t have any reservation, and she said: “I have room – cheap, cheap” – which turned out to be the extent of her English. Ben talked to her in French for a bit and before I knew it we were following her to check out her black-market hostel. For the whole 5 minute walk, Ben translated her French and through in some interesting bits of his own about how she was going to kill us, take our kidneys, and dump the bodies. It was a really surreal experience, but we kept on as she told us about the “friendly atmosphere” and the “cute Canadian girls” – her biggest selling feature.

We stopped at a little restaurant lit entirely with neon-green lights that gave everything a radioactive glow. The restaurant was watched by the old lady’s mother – who must have been 90-something and looked like the Crypt Keeper with her green glowing skin. They showed us some pictures of the rooms, which looked nice but it was tough to tell in the green light. Supposedly the rooms were right above us in the same building so we relented to take a look. The old lady unlocked the door next to the restaurant and took us into a pitch-black hallway and disappeared around a darkened corner. Ben followed, but I waited by the light of the door prepared to bolt to save myself (and maybe send help) should anything happen. The old lady beckoned me to follow as the smallest elevator came shaking down to the ground elevator. The elevator was lit and had enough room for maybe 2 people. Ben and I with our packs barely fit in. I thought our guide would take the stairs, but she jammed in between us. I just kept laughing.

When we reached the 5th floor, she got out, Ben followed, and I was stuck. I managed to pull myself and my bag out of the coffin-sized elevator and we entered the rooms. The place seemed like two apartments that had been converted into hostel type accommodation, with bunk beds jammed in all the rooms. There was a common area with a kitchen and an old television. And low and behold there were hot Canadian girls – really hot Canadian girls. Everyone was sitting around eating a home cooked meal. When we decided to stay the night, they offered us some food and chatted with us for a bit. Then everyone got ready to go clubbing. It was a Tuesday night, but that didn’t seem to give them any pause. Seems like tourists party hard every night. I found two collared shirts in my bag – one for myself and one for Ben, as his Canadian Boy t-shirt was criticized by the Brit. We finished off the bottle of wine we had been carrying around unopened since Belgium, while everyone pre-drank. Then about 15 of us (Canadians, Aussies, Swedes, a Brit, and an American) about 50% girls, went out in search of night life. We had only been in Nice for an hour and hadn’t explored the city yet, so we left navigating up to the others and hoped somehow we’d find our way back.

We started at a bar then found a tiny and empty dance club and packed the place and danced until 2 am when it closed. Good times were had by all. Even though we had just met our new friends, everyone danced together and had a good time like we were old friends. Ben even found a new dance coach. At 2 am, Ben, myself, and a few others went home, but most of them continued on to other bars. The alcohol was extremely expensive at the bar, but I only bought one large beer, which set me back 7.50. On the way back I sat on a traffic barrier that actually deflated when I sat on it. I was a bit surprised when I found myself seated on the road. Now, what good would that be at stopping cars.

Lunch Break at Pont d'Avignon  Hopping Along  Boys and Girls  Hiking with the Pack

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