Travel Diary: Montpellier pt. 2

You can go and read the part 1 from HERE

 

Day 4: Rock Bar or Music Cafe

We ate late breakfast at the balcony and from the early morning it was clear today was going to be warm summer day. The sun shined and birds were singing. Perfect day, I woud say.

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We started our day with shopping trip. First we visited big supermarket. Or maybe more like hypermarket. I have never visited so large shop for food. After that we went to Lidl and the things looked more familiar. However I am envious of the bakery section because everything is half the price they are in Finland.

The other different thing to what I have get used to is wine. You found wine everywhere even from Lidl. In my home you can’t buy wines from normal markets. And the prices in France are so cheap!

But to talk more about wines the truth is I hate all alcohols. I haven’t ever drunk any alcohol as much as I did in the four days in Montpellier. And I mean more than I have drunk in the last 20 years. Probably got some kind of poisoning because my first day alone was like hangover day.

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After returning home we decided take all sunlight out of this day and spend it sunbathing. So I took my school books, iPod and lied in the balcony for too many hours. I couldn’t really read the chemistry like I meant because I fall asleep. There’s this important test right after I go back to Finland so not studying is causing some trouble… Well I’m not going to think that while in holiday!

At some point the sun set and it was time to leave enjoy Montpellier’s night life. For this whole time I have been here the two madams, who I’m living with, have been exited about this rock bar they want to take me. So when clock got closer to 8pm we left home.

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After couple of classes wine I decided to try interesting energy drink

Gazette Café charmed me with the friendly atmosphere and cozy settings. The house filled up with french people of all ages. There were families with small children, old couples, young adults waiting for bars to open and middle aged women meeting their friends in fancy clothes. Everyone seemed to fit in.

The Finnish model of night life is make different hang out places to any age and type of people.  Maybe that’s why I have never enjoyed going out late. I need different people, interesting stories and friendly place to feel good. It’s boring to go night clubs full of clones and drunk people. (ps. this is just my opinion… I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings!)

So the band was going to start before nine but apparently this kind of event are usually late. There was dance lesson going on to anyone who wanted to participate. Dance floor was full but we as shy Finns just enjoyed watching others have fun.

Two hours late the band finally took over the stage. The truth got revealed from first second of music. Not a rock bar. The music was jazz but for music lover like me that didn’t matter. The band was local and their music made my night better. When we left back home, the smile didn’t leave my face. I love traveling. Experiencing things you never though would happen.

 

Day 5: How many streets is here?

My last day with the two madams. After tomorrow I need to survive on my own. Well I have always been okay alone but it’s still thrilling. This last day we spend walking around the small streets and visiting cute shops.

Am I strange if I love getting lost to labyrinths and old alleys? In Montpellier it’s easy. There is street after street and you could just walk forever and never find your way out.

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In the pic above you can see sculptures in front of new opera building Corum. Old headless human bodies (or statues presenting humans) painted in different colors. From Montpellier you can find cool things like this even if you don’t try to look for them!

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France is candidate for 2025 World Expo. In the Place de la Comedie was this huge earth for couple of days to promote the event. Many people took pics of it and of course I had too. So then this funny -frightening- thing happened…

So I was for a moment alone and decided to take pic of the earth. There was many people and this one young tourist man tried to take selfie. Minding my own business and trying to take the pic this man startled me.

He come to me and spoke french and of course I did understand he asked if I would take pic of him. So I mumbled something and took his phone. The selfie function was however still on and I didn’t know how to turn it off. I then had to ask him to make the camera “normal”.

Finally I was able to take the pic and return his phone. He spoke some more french to me and I just smiled and tried to look like I understood everything. -I can’t speak any french…- After a too long moment he waved me goodbye and left. Apparently he still thought I was local. I’m not very good with people so the whole five minutes this took I was scared to the death.

 

Day 6: I’m all alone

This day would also be called how I didn’t survive alone. There was too many embarrassing moments. Not talking french isn’t good idea if you want to visit France. But at least I had practiced to say one sentence.

“Je ne parle pas français”

It means I don’t speak french. Very useful phrase! You can say it to anyone who tries to speak to you. Be guaranteed they don’t try to make contact again. Especial if you combine it with scared look and try to run away from them.

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After all the humiliation I decided to go to my temporarily home’s safe environment. Oh, how wrong I was…

In one evening I broke shower and plate, got my earphones dirty from chocolate and dropped full tea mug all over myself and the carpet. I need babysitter!

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I will never survive living alone -.-“

 

Day 7: Rain, rain and rain

This was the day my sister was coming in the town. I had full day of me time before I had to go and get her from train station.

So of course I decided to go and see the city early in morning. Three hours later I came back soaking wet. It stormed a whole day.

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With all the free time I had time to practice my second phrase in French. It means I don’t eat pork or beef. -my sister doesn’t eat meat-

Next time I left the apartment was at evening to go to the train station. It was still raining and Montpellier didn’t give as beautiful welcome to my sister as it had given to me. Despite that my sister fell in love immediately.

Travel Diary: Montpellier pt. 1

When my grandpa’s friends asked me to come and spend sometime in their place in south France, I couldn’t believe I would eventually really go. Here I am in sunny charming Montpellier. Is this dream? How can I be so lucky?

I didn’t do a lot of planning before leaving my home behind. In the early morning one hour time left I still had things to do and back. The feeling of traveling never come across my brains. Traveling is the only way I truly feel like living. The feeling of freedom and unknown paths is my home. So here I am and this is the first part of my travel diary.

 

Day 1: Lost in train stations

Finland is amazing country to live in but there is one big flaw. The airport isn’t located anywhere near my city.

So in the early Sunday morning I woke up at three am after sleeping only four hours. My mum then drove me to bus station in the city next to us. (I’m sorry mum you had to do that so early).

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Snowy and dark Finland just before my flight

After two and half long hours in bus I was ready to embarrass myself at airport. Like usually I went in wrong line and then the security check machine beeped for me. I’m starting to think I’m made of iron… How can it give the alarm for me every freaking time??

The whole airplane was packed and when choosing my place I took the last window seat. It was quite funny that at my six people row everyone were lonely travelers.

The guy next to me read book about growing puppy and beside him sat Japanese guy who had a lot of snacks with him. We didn’t really talk but they smiled nicely to me and the Japanese boy said goodbye when we departed.

The flight was normal and everything was good. Well if we don’t mention the horrible weather… It was snowing a whole night before and it didn’t end even when it was time to fly. I was scared to death.

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France through my train’s window

The conditions in France were totally different. Sun was shining and I had to abandon my leather jacket. For locals the feather seemed cold but for me it reminded Finnish summer.

Montpellier charmed me starting from the first seconds. There was beautiful old buildings, graffiti and sunset.

The older madams (let’s call them S and L) who had invited me welcomed me with hugs and smiles. Together we continued the trip to their apartment. We used tram and let me say I have never seen that kind of public transport. The trams were all colorful and different. So cool!

 

Day 2: Fascinating older Montpellier

The first morning rose cloudy but still almost 20*C warmer than Finland. S and L were still sleeping and I had time to admire the scenery outside of my window. Not much to see but still different than I have got used to. Heck there was palm trees in this city! Those would never survive in Finland.

After a while all three of us ate french breakfast. There was so much food I was sure eating later on that day would be impossible (I was totally wrong).

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The center of Montpellier reminds me of old labyrinth

Quickly after that I was dragged to the tram and towards to the mystical old streets of Montpellier. The first thing I learned was how everything is closed at Mondays. That however didn’t matter because we just walked around and even found small restaurant open.

The second thing I learned from my lovely companions was only order well done steak (rather not even that). Apparently french people like their meat red and bloody or it’s not tasty. I’m of course just joking… (or am I?) Well just remember kids never order medium steak in french. Of course if you like your food a little bit raw don’t listen to my advice.

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Look at the tram design! So cool?

After eating and wandering around more I had to admit being tired. So we headed back to home. And I just need to add that I get amazed easily but I totally fell in love with the local tram network. Firstly who doesn’t like the bright colorful trams??! And secondly only 6 euros for 5 persons to use all the trams and buses 24 hours! In Finland I pay 5 euros to go one trip…

 

Day 3: Road trip time!

I only had four days with my amazing hosts -and their car- so we decided to do day trip. After we left the sunny Montpellier behind us I quickly come to the realization this day wasn’t going to be some kind of short visit. No, the lovely madams had planned full day road trip around the Mediterranean coast. We left home when sun was rising and got back after dark.

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The ghost town Mèze

Our first stop was Mèze 40km to west from Montpellier. The city seemed more like ghost down this time of the year. According to my all knowing guides all of the too many restaurants filled up in summer time. I liked it more when I couldn’t see any people. Like peace had taken over this little town.What I did see a lot in this town was seafood. Farther away you could see the frames where locals farm oysters.

After the calming city we continued our travel towards Sète. However without reading the map our trip went trough several other smaller cities. If you ever have car, time and just happen to be in south France good entertainment would be just driving from city to city. Everyone of them has something different to offer and oh my goodness how beautiful the small roads inside towns can be.

So finally we arrived at Sète and drove around to see what it was like. Canals covering the city layout made using car kind of hard. However I have always liked water and bridges so Sète made good first impression on me.

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As first thing we tried to find place to eat and there was a lot of options even if it’s not the tourist season. As not french speaking persons we didn’t get so kind service and the waiter “forgot” us often. But the meal and dessert overrun all my expectations.

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The view from cemetery in Sète

The most amazing thing I recommend to do in this small city is visit the Paul Valéry Museum and cemetery next to it. You have to walk up the mountain but visiting there is worth it. The museum has really succeeded in the presentation of the art works. It was delight to my eyes.

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Big cross in the top of mountain and view to Sète

Our last thing to do before leaving Sète behind us was visit in the viewpoint in the highest point of the mountain. Looking from the sky this city seemed even more idyllic and full of adventures. In addition to the view there was small chapel with lovely atmosphere.

Our next destination was Palavas and it’s endless beach. The drive there showed me the coast and small towns. And of course something I didn’t expect! Flamingos! Flamingos living in wild. Pink cute and gorgeous flamingos. It was my first tie seeing them and that literally made my day perfect. I would have drove to the Palavas just to see those amazing birds. Unfortunately I didn’t get pic of them. 😦

palavas

Finally in Palavas the sun has already setting down. That didn’t prevent me hunting seashells between the sand and stones. I love pretty things… We spend sometime there just enjoying the last warms of day and looking the sea. Then I thought it would be time to go back home but the madams S and L still had one place for us to go.

L drove in the darkening evening and I got to admire even more of the France’s coast. In fading sunlight everything seemed so different. After a not so long drive we found ourselves in this odd futuristic city. La Grande Motte’s buildings rise towards sky in different architectural forms.

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My attention quickly turned from structures to the clouds. Sun has already set but it’s last remaining lights reflected from clouds. S and L took me to walk around the harbor and promenade. If I would decide my every evening should end like that. Like I said I love pretty and beautiful things. I love everything that takes my breath away.

After the darkness had taken over we returned to car and started the travel back home. That night I fell asleep smiling.

 

 

You can read the part 2 from HERE

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Stay tuned for more stories of my adventures!