Well, I blogged too early yesterday, maybe. There were more frustrations with transportation on my way out of Belgium. I had to get the bus to the train station and thought the bus stop would be at the same place where I had been dropped off the day before, just on the other side of the road. As I was walking, I saw one of the buses I needed (I could one of two lines) and I almost flagged it down (they tend to stop for people and wait for people… at least they did that a lot in Amsterdam). I so wish I had at least tried. Instead, I walked to where I thought the stop was and a bus was pulling up, on the wrong side of the road. So I thought I would ask him. It was the same driver as the day before and he told me I just missed the bus and that the stop was on a different street… the one I had come from. So I went back and found the stop and knew that the buses came every 10 mins. I had just under an hour before my train (55 mins). I waited for almost 30 mins before another bus came. I was nearly in tears and finally asked a lady waiting when the freaking bus was going to come. She said there was a lift bridge that was up and she was sure when the bridge went back down the bus would be there. I told her I was worried about missing my train (she said it takes 20 mins to get to the train station). I told her how long I had been waiting without a bus and she said I should call a cab. I said I had no phone. She offered to call for me. But I knew with how long it would take a cab to get there, I should just wait for the bus. So she told me to tell the driver I was in a hurry so he didn’t wait at stops or dilly dally.
I made it. I didn’t get to buy dinner for the train, but I made it. I did buy a bag of chips and a water from a vending maching on the platform. I rode in first class, which was almost empty, for the first hour. It was glorious. Then I changed for the 3 hour portion and forgot that that train did not have a first class cabin. So I was stuck on a very full second class cabin with nowhere to put my bag. I found a seat at the back next to what appeared to be a wall. So I sat down and put my bag in the aisle. Worked fine and people started getting off at the stops, so it was quickly thinning out, but before I had a chance to move, a conductor came and asked me to move my bag. But he was standing over it trying to open the door that I thought was a wall. I couldn’t get up with him standing over the bag and next to me. So he lifted up my arm rest and motioned with one hand to move the bag. I finally said, well if you’d move I would. He then stepped back and I was able to move across the aisle with just me and my bag!
Thankfully my hotel was very close to the station and I made it with no problems. Set my stuff down and got some Subway for dinner. I was surprised that everything was closed at 8pm. Including in the train station. So I didn’t have much to choose from! But really, it hit the spot!
This morning I was excited to pick up the rental car and head to Giverny to see Claude Monet’s house and gardens. I’ve heard great things about it and was excited to see the scene for Water Lillies. I rented a GPS, despite the fact that it was originally going to cost $100. Just for the GPS for three days. But I had no choice, as my phone didn’t work without WiFi. But the lady then said that the car had a navigation system, so she was only charging me some of the fee. I didn’t really understand. So I went to the car and realized that everything was in French. Which, duh. But I hadn’t thought of it. (Just like I didn’t think of the fact that I couldn’t get the BF a birthday card here because they are all in foreign languages. Or that I can’t go see Gone Girl because it will be in a different language. I don’t know why it takes me awhile to realize this.) Anyway, I thought I could still work it. So I started to pull out of the parking ramp and as I made my way up two levels I decided no, no I could not drive around a foreign country with the only directions being told to me in French. Which I don’t understand. I don’t know what “Turn Right” sounds like in French. So I went back to the parking space and attempted to repack the car. But then I couldn’t get it in reverse. Honestly. It said it was to the left and above first gear. I was shoving that thing as far to the right and up as possible and it remained in first gear. So I went back up a level and was going to pull in to the space instead of backing in. But the spaces are so tiny I couldn’t do it without reversing. I kept trying and trying, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t get the damn thing in reverse. I saw a man washing a car at the end of the aisle so I called to him for help. He said no. Awesome. It was all I could do not to burst into tears. I went back up to the office and canceled the car. I felt so bad, but the lady was very nice again, even though I don’t think she quite understood what I meant by “someone needs to go park the car” (as it was sticking out partially into the aisle). She didn’t charge me any kind of fee, either. She was very nice. But I still felt like a huge idiot and a failure. I went back to my room to figure out how I was going to salvage the weekend without a car.
Then I decided to make lemonade and set out to see Rouen. I saw awesome Gothic Cathedrals, a fancy hotel, a beautiful town clock, and the place where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. I sat in the square and read for awhile, and just basically strolled leisurely through the city checking things out. And then I saw a clothing store I had seen in other cities. So I went in. I scored a new fleece (seeing as though I lost mine somewhere…I think I left it in the luggage room in Prague) and a pair of gray cords. I needed another type of pant (not jeans) so I can wear my jean jacket and denim shirt. They’re perfect!
Then I spent some time relaxing before setting out for some dinner. I didn’t find anywhere to have a French dinner, I think it was a combination of not many places had English menus, most places had set menus, and they were all pretty expensive. So I found a place where I bought a salad, a chewy baguette, and an Evian. That’s pretty French, right??? Plan B turned out to be a pretty nice day!