Saturday, 11 June 2011

Montpellier, France

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.”
-Lillian Smith

After leaving Venice, my plan was to take a train to Geneva and another train from Geneva to Barcelona.  Upon arrival in Geneva, I discovered that the overnight train to Barcelona was fully booked.  If I wanted to make my flight to Marrakech, Morocco, the only option was to take a train from Geneva to Montpellier.

The train dropped me off in Montpellier at 10 p.m.  Another train to Barcelona left Montpellier at 7 a.m.

Montpellier is beautiful by night.

I tried to find a hostel in Montpellier, but everything was booked.  After eating Chinese food, I resigned myself to another night in the train station.

After an hour in the Montpellier train station, the police arrived and kicked everyone out.  Many train stations in Europe close in the wee morning hours because there are no inbound or outbound trains.

I explained to the policeman that I had tried to find lodging unsuccessfully and had no where else to go, but he assured me that a few policemen stand outside the train station at night, so I would be safe sitting (or sleeping) out front.

I walked outside the train station and started to play my 44th game of Klondike of the day...on the curb. 

IPOD Klondike is the shit, even though I suck at it.

Then I just sat, and sat, and stared at the pigeons flocking around my feet, and stared at the pigeons flocking around my feet, and stared at the pigeons flocking around my feet, and sat some more...

It was nearing 2 a.m. and I was getting tired, and the more tired I got the more fantastic the pigeons started to look.  Some strange thoughts started running through my head.  This is an actual transcript:

Oh...beautiful pigeons...look at the pigeons swirl and spin, swirl and spin...  They are swirling.  They are spinning.  Oh, I love pigeons.  L-O-V-E them.  Their feathers look so soft.  So soft...  Like a feather pillow.  I wish pigeons were as big as me so that I could crawl on their back and wrap my arms around their fat neck and bury my face in their soft feathers...  Soft, soft pigeon feather pillow...  And take a nap on the back of a pigeon... For hours... 

Right as I was fantasizing about a pigeon piggyback ride through the streets of Montpellier, a voice said, "Hey girl, would you like to sleep at our apartment?  We have an extra mattress."

I came to, and saw three 20-something females standing above me.  They told me that they were Swiss students studying in France, and that they shared an apartment five minutes from the train station.  

Traveling has made me more street smart.  Obviously, if this had been Franz, the answer would have been an emphatic "no."  But I figured three, well-dressed ladies of my own age could not be too dangerous.  Plus, a mattress was preferable to a pigeon piggyback ride. 

I followed the Swiss girls to their apartment.  They made me tea.  We exchanged life stories.  They asked me if I'd ever considered couchsurfing.  They explained that couchsurfing, like hostelworld, has a way for guests to rate and comment on their hosts (so you can screen out the losers).  They said they've all used couchsurfing extensively, and safely.

Then I fell to sleep on their mattress, still wearing my street clothes.

The next morning I left Montpellier at the ass crack of dawn and headed to Barcelona.

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