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Blue skies & Hell’s Angels

August 21, 2008

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Chamonix to Aix-en-Provence, France

Got up and had breakfast with Martin from last night.  Real nice guy; great smile.  Martin is in his early 50’s by my reckoning and he headed off on his bike to go further into Switzerland.  After uploading last night’s journal entry I headed off as well.  The receptionist from last night was working this morning and so I made a point to tell her she was so kind in working with me on the French, en Francais of course (vous êtes très gentil).  She lit right up with a big smile and said je vous en pris, aurevoir.

I had a long day ahead of me getting to Aix-en-Provence (Exxon Pro-vahnce).  It was blue skies the whole way.  Plenty of winding twisting roads again as I came down out of the Alps.  I finally got on a freeway and got some speed on to make up the difference in time lost on the country roads.  Before long, it really started getting hot, flattening out and it started looking like dessert somewhat like Arizona or New Mexico.  I really didn’t expect that in France.  I guess it’s looking like Italy, or at least what I think Italy might look like, it is right next door after all.

dscn2608I kept going and it was one of those days where everything is jiving and it just feels good to be alive.  I passed through some pretty French towns, most of which had big flea markets going on, must be a common day for that.  I stopped for fuel for the first time in a while.  I drove five hours I think from Gimmelwald to Chamonix yesterday and four hours today before I stopped and I still had a quarter tank left; not bad.  On the road, I was passed by the Austrian chapter of the Hells Angles on their hogs.

I pulled into Aix-en-Provence and never saw a sign for the tourist information office, so I just drove around for a few minutes looking for one and what do I see but a direction sign that says “Auberge du Jeunesse” (youth hostel).  What luck.  I followed the signs pulling over occasionally to look ahead and think things through.  I’m in a good size city and it’s hard to just turn around if I miss something.  It was like hooking the big fish and I didn’t want to make a wrong move for fear of losing it.  I’d pull back on the road after letting all the on coming cars by first so I could then go slow to give myself plenty of time to inspect all of the street signs as they passed.  After following the signs and several turns, I pulled into the parking lot of the Aix-en-Provence Hostel and breathed a sigh of relief.  I landed it.

I got settled into my room and was thinking I might have it all to myself.  I got my groceries from the car and went to the bar/lounge area and had a sandwich and an apple and then went back to the room and there were three other girls in my room.  Oh well.  They greeted me in English and we got to talking right away.  Lisa, Onnika and Caraina are all from Sweden and are traveling together for two weeks, of which they are nearing the end.  Most of their time has been in Southern France so I’m pumping them for information about the region.

They sort of adopted me and we had some snacks and drinks together in the bar and just had a good time talking and sharing travel stories.  Caraina apparently is a vegetarian or a vegan, so I wanted to launch into my vegetarian joke that most of you have heard I’m sure, but I wasn’t sure if she’d get it.  I told it to Lisa who was speaking like an American and she laughed so I gave it a shot, I told Caraina I was a vegetarian too and she kind of gave me a look of approval at which time I told her that it’s not because I love animals or anything, I just really hate plants.  She got it and she laughed and she’s gonna steal it.

A young guy walked up and asked if he could join us and we said sure.  His name is Graham and he’s from London.  He’s near the end of a two week holiday as well and his wife will be joining him tomorrow.  I thought that was odd, but he is a teacher and has the whole summer off and his wife begins her holiday tomorrow and they’ll continue their holiday together.  He just got an early start I suppose.

Not much else to report, mostly a day of driving, not many pictures either, but it was a good day.  It occurs to me, I really haven’t had any bad days yet.  I’m almost half way through my trip and honestly, I didn’t think I’d last this long, but I did, and I’m ready for more.


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