The last place Alec and I visited on our own was Rennes, France. It's on the northern coast, and the goal was to visit Mont Saint-Michel. It's a French class staple, and was the only thing really out of the way in France that I wanted to visit. Rennes had an airport, and was not too terribly far away. We got off of our plane and noticed that this airport only had one terminal. After waiting for ages to get my bag, I kind of had to laugh. It's so quick to get bags off of a huge airport, but took forever in an airport with one terminal.
We went outside to try and figure out how to get a taxi. But since this place was so tiny there were no pay phones and minimal employees. We followed everyone else out to the front. There were tons of cabs coming, so we figured we'd just grab one. After about an hour of that we realized that those people had all called ahead for a cab. There was a sign with numbers for different cab companies. Only, we didn't have a phone, or a pay phone. I was still feeling very unwell. Alec said he'd go and find an employee and try to see if they could call for us. An alarm started going off about 5 minutes later, and then a minute or two after that Alec came walking back out. He said they seemed like they were on board to help, but they had told him that he needed to go outside because of the fire alarm. So we were waiting around for the alarm to stop going off so we could go back inside and get the cab company to send a car for us. Then, a bunch of employees came out and started urgently ushering the remaining group of people away from the building toward the farthest parking lot. All of the employees were evacuated from the building next. And all of a sudden a bunch of men in full-on fire suits were assessing the building. We were all asking around trying to figure out what was going on, but the employees were all pretty serious. It seemed as though the airport was on fire! Just great. If only we'd called the cab before that all went down. Because now they were turning down any cab that came near.
About half an hour later, they let us go back to the building. Alec went back in to talk to them about the phone call and I watched our stuff outside. He came back and said he'd asked what had happened, and they told him it was JUST A DRILL. That is one hell of a drill if you ask me! From the time we landed until we got in the cab, we were waiting for several hours. We were tired, hungry, thirsty, and ready to be at our place in Rennes. Relieved, we got in the cab and told the driver where to go. And there went almost 100 euro... most expensive cab ride EVER. It was ridiculous. We finally got to the house and knocked on the door, looking for our host. No answer. We knocked a few more times, with no response. Without a doubt we were both cranky beyond belief. And this was not helping.
We decided that we'd go find a place to eat, at least, and then come back and try again later. As we were about to leave the building, our host arrived home apologizing. He had only been down the street at the market picking up some groceries for his dinner that night, as he was having guests over. It had just been really bad timing! He let us in, and was the nicest guy ever. He spoke essential English, and most of our conversation was mixed French and English. The room he was renting was basically the attic. A lot more spacious than some of the other places we'd been staying in. Okay, all of them, actually. And a clean bathroom! It was exactly what I imagined a French apartment to look like. We sat down and just had a breather for a little bit. But not for long because our hunger took over.
We thanked our host and headed out to look for a restaurant. Nowhere that we passed seemed to be open. We found a place that had some people sitting out on the patio with drinks and a big chalkboard menu out front. It looked promising. After trying to order water for over 10 minutes, we gave up and ordered a soda and juice. It still didn't seem like and meals were being served. We paid after our drinks and moved on. Nothing at all was open. We eventually caved and just bought sandwiches at a random little stand. Only there was nowhere to sit so we brought them back home, turned on the Netflix on my computer, and resorted to our American selves. The sandwiches were not decadent. They were basic, and the bread was so tough that I thought my jaw might break. We both agreed that Mont Saint-Michel was no longer an option. Our budget had been drained by the awful taxi and we were kind of done from the day's frustrations.
After spending the night lounging in our Rennes apartment, we got on a train to meet back up with Xin Yun in Paris. We'd reserved a hostel already, and we agreed to meet there. Alec and I were pretty excited to be in Paris finally.
The walk trying to find the hostel was pretty long. It involved a lot of the metro, a lot of confusing conversations in French trying to get directions, and a lot of turning around. We finally got to the first hostel with AN ELEVATOR! Yippee! It was teeny tiny, as in it could fit one person and one suitcase, but it was a godsend. Xin Yun and I shared a bedroom the first night while Alec had his own, then the next we all joined together in a three-bed room. The room's view was exactly what I'd imagined it would be too. So far so good!
We headed out almost immediately. We just started walking, with no particular destination in mind. Turns out, we were walking right toward the Eiffel Tower. So we grabbed some macaroons on the way and took advantage of our proximity for a photo op.
At this point, France had lived up to all of my expectations except food. The food was awful so far, the few times we'd actually been able to eat. It was pretty much impossible to find anything to eat. Which means Alix was NOT a happy camper.