Pancakes!

Today, Aoife and I decided to hang around. I went it the Belleville market to meet her, and we went dumpster diving for a while (getting free food that it is nothing wrong on, but they can’t sell as they may look bad or gone over expiration date). We found lots of food that were more than edible (the bananas for example just broke off the top, no problem to eat).
We then went on a walk to her place, and passed a cemetery, the Luxembourg park and second hand shops where you weight what you buy and pay per kilo. I bought this for 1,20 euro, which I think is reasonable!

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As we was getting hungry we bought ingredients and went to the place where she lived and made pancakes. I have really longed to eat it again, and I was feeling so good when there were no left. Absolutely perfect!

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She was going to the Catacombs with a friend later that night, so I joined in on the plan. Therefore I went home to gather all my stuff and prepare myself!

Sightseeing day!

In the morning, me and Laura decided to meet for breakfast in front of the Eiffel Tower. This was pretty stupid, as we did not specify which side was the front, or exactly where, and there were a ton of people there!
On my way there, I bought some bread, and also brought my jam from home. I took another city bike as my rental time was until the next night.

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I came there in time, but then I had to find a place to park the bike at, and in the end I came there twenty minutes too late. I could not find Laura though, and after an hour and a half I sat down with another women that looked like she was waiting. She was from the USA, and waiting for her kids and husband, as they were not allowed to take the skateboard with them and she had also been up there before. She got to wait a total of two-three hours on them, as the lines were huge!
But the bread with the jam tasted good at least.

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I was giving up on finding Laura, and was going away. I found a wifi, sent her a text, and then started walking. I then remembered that I should update the bike map so that I can see where to find city bikes (it shows how many are parked at every place, so you now if it is full or not). At that second I got an answer from Laura who also had been writing a message from somewhere with wifi, where she told me she would sit at the grassy area for about an hour. It was lucky I got that message instead of going straight away, so I went back and found her. Apparently she had gone the wrong way with the bike this morning, so she was 45 minutes late, but after that she could not find me either. We ate some more breakfast, before we started leaving for the city.
We came up with the idea to go to the cinema, but we did not find any good movies and/or times on the ones nearby. Then, we found one with a movie we wanted to see at a good time. We tried to get there in time with the city bikes, but we were too late, so we went to the Notre Dame instead. That was of course a have-to-see, because of the movie “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”.
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It was then time to leave for me as I was changing host today, so I went back to Christophe’s place to get my gear. This was also the first time I tried the train and metro here in Paris.

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I then biked to Lukas’s place, another swedish Couchsurfer that I met in the first picnic night. He has been living in Paris for a while, studying and working since february.
He and Benjamin, another friend of Lukas who was staying another night, was making dinner I was invited to (meatballs with macaroni and sauce).
After that, we looked at an episode of True Blood and then some episodes of Girls before going to sleep!

City bike (or shitty bike)

Well, actually they are not that bad, but more about them later!
I actually slept pretty much this morning and did not wake up until ten or so. I took a quick shower and then we went out to buy some breakfast. I think I will miss the bakeries when I leave France!

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I then spent some time writing for the blog, writing references and all the other kind of administration stuff. As the market closes pretty early, at least on sundays, I went out to buy some grilled chicken that we would have for lunch later!

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As the door on his fridge were not closing itself, we wanted to fix that, and so we did. We just added some height to the front by putting on the feet, and now at least that annoying problem is out of the world!
I also helped out with moving his router to the middle of the apartment (when I was writing in the kitchen earlier there were not enough signal strength to upload pictures to the blog). This took some time as the cables should be hidden and not just lying around, and also his DSL outlet were a little loose, so you could lose connection. That made everything take another hour before we figured it out but now the internet is working!
I also ate dinner at his place, before taking the bus into town. There were a “good bye”-party as end of the Paris 2014 RDV-week at what seemed like a better party place than the over crowded place the day before. It was really nice, and it also had an almost quite area in the cellar, where the music was quiet enough to be able to talk without shouting. I met some new friends this night, a New Zealander-girl and an American guy among others!
When going home, Christophe had tipped me about the city bikes as the metro would probably not go at that time. If you rent a bike, you pay 1,70 euro for 24 hours, and then you only pay more if you would use a bike for more than thirty minutes before leaving it back. There are automatic stations all over the city, so when going longer distances, you just leave it at a station, wait two minutes and then pick it out again. We had a problem with the first station as it was apparently down (payment did not work, and also not getting any bikes out, but the machine did not show that). After finding a working machine, there were no problem though, and I followed Laura, the New Zealander-girl home, before biking back to Christophe’s place. When it was close to thirty minutes I also took a break to buy some pizza along the way. Yummy!

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I also went by Arc de Triumph and took a turn in the roundabout as there were almost no cars there.

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About shitty bikes, well, they were really slow, and many had something more or less broken on them, like the pedals being a little bent, and they were pretty heavy. Of course understandable as they must be sturdy for this sort of thing, and I really do like this, even if I prefer my own bike!

Graveyards and picnics

There would be Couchsurfing events for four days, and today it was, among others, a treasure hunt, a picnic and a full moon party.
As it was time to switch host I took my gear with me and went to the graveyard where the treasure hunt would be. The graveyard was called Cimetière de Montamartre and is apparently a place for tourists to go to as many famous people are buried here. The things we were looking for were persons, languages, dates and different statues and decorations. It was nice, but as the weather made it unbearable for me, I went back to my bike half an hour earlier than the end. The heat is really taking it out of me!

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When the treasure hunt had ended, I went to my next hosts place to put all my stuff there before the evening. Christophe is a really nice guy with a sense of humour, and he had many tips that will help in Paris and also other countries (now I got more wifi wherever I go, for example. Really good for communicating as I do not buy SIM cards!) and also has knowledge about the city.
I borrowed him my bicycle pump as his was not doing well, so we could pump up the tires in the bike he had just changed the tube in.
Later in the evening I was going to the picnic and Christophe were going to some friends so he gave me a ride in on the scooter. It is fun to be able to experience all the different ways of transportation, and this one I think I would not try alone!
There was a really strong guy performing various tricks with a foot ball, inclusive holding the ball with one foot and set himself perpendicular to the lamp post with only his arms!

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I was really tired after last night so after some hours I just slept a bit on the grass until we were heading to the next place, the night club.
The walk there was good as I got to talk to even more people but I did not like the club at all. It was really crowded and high music everywhere so not my type of place to be at.
Christophe came to club but the line was long and it did not seem worth to get in at that crowded place so we went home. He gave me a really cool tour on the scooter, showing me both buildings and telling me about historical events that happened on different places, and also what was the oldest monument in Paris (or even France). We then went to see the Arc de Triumph, and it really is huge, and looks better by night!

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After that we went to the spot where you can see the Eiffel Tower really well, and I got to show my magical powers that I did not really know I had:

After that, it was time to get home and go to sleep! Thanks for the really nice trip, Christophe!

Towels and baguettes

I took my time in the morning, and ate a breakfast on the balcony in the lovely weather. As Emma could not really do errands, I went to get some towels that were sent to her old address. I was going to a picnic at the old railway later, so I went and picked them up just before.
The picnic place were really cool, and if I get the chance I will explore this railway more!

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At the picnic I meet a girl, Aoife, who gave me a baguette, so I felt really parisian biking home!

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On the way home, with 300 metres left, I heard someone yell, and there were people I met at the picnic who were at a café!

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After some hours rest at home, I went to the next picnic. The site said 300 attending, and I do not know how many we were in real life, but we were many!

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Around midnight we fought of going to a bar, so we did. On the way we went by the glass pyramids outside of the Louvre, and it looked really nice!

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We went to a bar and met this nice guy, William (the spelling differs in french). It was a really nice night, even though 0530 felt a little late! ^__^

Arriving in Paris

They also treated me breakfast when I wake up, so I got a really good start on the day. When I then left this nice persons, I first headed to the castle in Chantilly, instead of going directly to Paris (and as I had biked 125 kilometres the day before, I were not really in a hurry with only 40 kilometres left).
It was a really nice castle. To get in you had to pay 20 euros, but I think you still see how magnificant it is from the outside!

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It was another of those hot days, and it seems like I have arrived in a streak of warm weather. Mostly it is nice, even if it gets hard to not get dehydrated!
Also, there were starting to be more hilly, with sometimes really long slopes that could have a hundred metres in height difference. It is good training for later on the trip!

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After arriving in Paris I went to Emmas place as my parents had sent my headphones to her address. She offered me to stay some nights and that was really good as I had an emergency host otherwise, and I think it is better to let another person in an emergency use that then.
I started with washing some of my clothes, and hand washed my knee protecters. After rinsing them I put them in water with some detergent, and it seems like they really needed it!

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Their apartment is lovely, and I got some mid snack on their cute balcony. I really appreciated everything I got, and it was nice to be able to relax a bit in this heat before continuing.

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When I searched for an emergency host the one who answered told me could meet at a picnic which was a Couchsurfing event. I have actually not gone to a Couchsurfing event before, so I wanted to go there even if I found another host, and apparently it was three hundred metres from Emmas apartment!
I had some problems finding the other guys, but after going back to the apartment (wifi) and getting more contact and also a number I went back. I was going to try to call them, but then a guy asked me if I was looking for them. Apparently I do not look as lost as the people showing up usually do, and it looked like I knew where I was going. I did not really feel that way, but I guess it is good to feel confident. 😉
It was a nice picnic by the canal, and I made some new friends. I also got to know that this was part of a bigger event, apparently they are having four days of events once a year, and I came right at the beginning!

Luck in France

After doing the usual stuff as waking up, packing, eating breakfast and so on, it was time to go again. Not all was there at the moment, but here is a picture of most of the kids! They were really fun!

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I then went biking. It was a really hot day, above 30 degrees, so I drank all the time and had a lot of sunscreen! I also passed some really strange roads, that look like a web from above. Some roads had asphalt, some were plain forest roads and some were not even there anymore, and all of them had this sort of signs in the crossings.

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When arriving in the small city I had pinpointed on my map, Rully, it was apparently too small to have a hostel, camping or active Couchsurfers/Warmshowers. In the end, I went to Senlis instead, as they at least had McDonalds with Wifi and some hotels.

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As the hotel I found fast was at least 52 euro, I was thinking of just taking a “shower” at McDonalds, refill the water and then go outside of the city and pitch my tent. I found two Warmshowers in the right direction of Paris though, which both had a telephone number, so I tried messaging them, and one answered really quick! He told me I could pitch my tent on his lawn, and of course there were water and the essential stuff. It was another 12 kilometres, but definitely worth it when I met the family!
45 minutes later I was there and met Nathalie, who was at home. I unpacked my things and got to take the shower as it was still really hot even though it was nine o’clock in the evening. A little bit later Emmanuel came home, and I also got to meet their two children, Mathieu and Benjamin. They all spoke really good english, and I think a part of it is because of their really cool trip. They had been biking for six months total in Australia, New Zealand and USA. I hope my trip will be as nice as theirs seemed to be!
They also treated me dinner, and during the dinner they tipped me about the castle in Chantilly, and a gave me an address to a really good bike ship in Paris that I will have to visit. They were really helpful with everything, and even offered to wash some clothes. It seems the luck in France has come now!

No luck in France

Another pretty easy biking day!
I ate breakfast and then leaved the drop zone, with my aim at Saint Quentin. I had sent out some requests at Couchsurfing and Warmshowers the day before, and hoped someone would answer.
I did not push myself this day either, but I tried to eat as my weight may have gone down a bit. Even if not much, that would be bad, so I started counting calories and protein again.
During the day, I drank some cola, but did not finish the bottle. I tried to think of a place where it could fit without being packed down, and found a perfect way of fitting 0,5 litre bottles!

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When arriving in Saint Quentin, I went to a McDonalds for wifi. I had no answer yet, and started sending out more requests. I also bought a cheeseburger, which was 2,40 euro. 1,40 more than in Belgium! According to internet, France is the second most expensive country in the world when it comes to McDonalds.
In the end, I had sent out 47 requests. I got 4 answers, which was all declines by people who were out of town. One of them tipped me about a safe place where I could pitch my tent at his old work. As I had no better option right then, I started going there, but after just a hundred metres I saw a camp of caravans. I went into there, and no one spoke english, but through body language I managed to make me understood. It was OK for me to pitch my tent there, and there were also possibilities to get fresh water, so it was a good place. They even treated me some fresh buns they had done!
The kids could a few words in english, and we had conversations with the few words we could speak and also with body language. Apparently it was a gipsy camp, and I got their names and age, and also tried to learn some basic french on the way. They were all really nice, and I had a great evening!

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Also, the count if kilocalories landed on 3750+4 buns, so around 4000. That should be enough for one day!

Belgium is a small country

…and it did not take many biking days to go through it.
After another good breakfast, I said good bye to Didier and went on my way. I got some bread with me, I really liked their home-made bread!
The weather was really nice, and even though I went pretty slow (about 15 km/h) it was a nice biking day. I did not really hurry and took some breaks here and there.

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It was a bit hilly, but as I took it slow, there were no problems. Also, you always got the downhill after going up!

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As I took long time on me, I used my solar panel to charge my things on the brakes. It really works well in this hard sunny weather, and I think there will be no problem with electricity during trips between more remote locations!

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It did not happen very much during this day, which I did not mind. One strange thing happened though, as the navigator told me to turn left. It seemed like a thing I could not do!

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There were another quiet border pass, and without the GPS, I would not know when I had passed the border. Soon after the border, I arrived at the place where I planned to sleep for tonight, a drop zone (skydiving centre) in France. The people were really friendly (which I was sure they would be) and it was much cheeper than a hostel (2 euro for a night, inclusive internet, shower, bathroom and so on, and it was good standard at everything). Also, I got to live near the sound of skydivers swooping and airplanes taking off and landing, which is a pretty nice sound!

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A really good resting day!

I had a really nice breakfast with my hosts, and also Max and Sophie joined. As I understand it they were both friends of Anne and Didier, and Sophie rented the apartment on the fourth floor while Max was just staying for some days.

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I then went out to visit the flea market, which I had read would be huge, and they were not kidding. It took me some hours to go through it, and I almost felt like I had not gone through it all!
I found some things I liked: Some old post cards, a small mechanical packet watch and also I found a cheap nail clipper (1 euro), probably some sort of imported china stuff, but I forgot mine at home!

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After that I headed to a big street market near the south station. I mostly went around and looked, but also found an old VW T2 that sold waffles. Too bad the chocolate were out, but the waffle still tasted good!

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Then, of course, I went to the Grand Placa for some more sightseeing. It rained, but I got a plenty nice picture, even if the panorama makes the towers look bent:

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I also went to le Bourse as the postcards I found was old pictures of the building. The lady thought the postcards was from around 1920, and with the cars on the picture, it could be true!

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After that, I went home and started with changing room as Max had gone. It was a rather nice room with a self illuminating star sky in the bed section but also a small home theatre.

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I watched a movie, Vanishing point from 1970-something. I also organised my stuff and looked a little bit on tomorrows trip, even though I was not sure where or how far I wanted to go.
During the movie, the two Korean guys who was also going to live here arrived. They were out on a 60-day Europe-trip, and was right now going the opposite direction of me, so they came from Paris.
We ate dinner together in the evening, all of us, before I went out again, and it was a good time for a gathered photo!

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Joi, who I met yesterday, tipped me of a “squat place” I think it is called, where people had started living in an abandoned building and got legally approved to do so. They made food every evening where people could pay whatever they wanted to. Joi wasn’t there but I started talking with some other people, and then followed to girls for a walk, Els and Nathalie if I got their names right. They were studying in Brussels and usually came to this place to eat as the food were really good, they said. Too bad I had already eaten me more than full because it looked delicious!

We went around a bit and they showed me the fountain I had not found earlier, another really touristic must-see place!

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When going home, I saw the independence statue a couple of hundred metres away. I did not know what it was, but asked two ladies on the street. One of them lives in Barcelona and we may meet there for some tea. It is always fun how you can meet people in so many ways!
I think at least I have seen most of the usual Brussels places after this days trips.

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When I came home, Didier and the Korean boys had went out to watch the game. Anne was home so we talked some more and also said good bye as she was going to leave early for the morning.
I then saw another movie, Broken, and ate some goodies. I say it again, I really felt spoiled, Anne and Didier were so kind all the time!

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I then went to sleep in the enormous bed. I can’t remember when I had so much space to sleep at last time!