Week 5 in Review

WEEK 5 on the map :::

Monday May 13th (Day 29)

good camping off the freeway, calais, france

spot the backpackers in Calais

Calais. We don’t want to stay here and busk – besides the rain, it seems like there’s an excessive of homeless immigrant men hanging out in Calais’ parks. The word is these men try to jump in the back of trucks headed for the ferry to England. Maybe it’s true?! We want to go to Boulogne-sur-Mer. Hitchhiking. But it takes us all day to find an onramp where cars might actually stop. In the meantime, we meet the McDonald’s cat named nugget, dodge the rain, discover 1.50€ wine, enjoy various breads and cheeses, and get some good exercise. We do finally get a hitchhike ride around 7 pm. Boulogne is very nice, a fortified city within a city, but we ain’t busking it on a slow Monday. Goodnight!

school yard graffiti in france

French school yard graffi

Tuesday May 14th (Day 30)

Boulogne. Rain, rain, go away, weren’t you supposed to stay in London anyway? We spend most of the day researching how to escape the rain (not a chance in hell, even Germany is covered in clouds), then give up and head downtown to play. There are about 6 people in the fortified city, however, we’re the coolest event in town and we make 14€, free beer, a toke or two and a place to sleep in a half-built house. A good omen from France?

Wednesday May 15th (Day 31)

In the early morning, our friend Mike (who arranged our nighttime accommodation) shows up with a French baguette to kick us out. Early morning hitchhiking doesn’t work, and seems to depress our future rides who look so angry in their work clothes. Instead, we take a bus out to the south of town and end up on the back roads. The bus was fantastically cheap at €1.30/person. But the back roads are tediously long. Three hitchhike rides and 10 miles of hiking later, we finally make it to our next destination, Berck-sur-mer. In what might be the biggest mistake of our French tour, we turn down a ride to Lyon sto stop in Berck-sur-mer. We make 10€ in Berk, but all the people disappear in the evening and we’re left with homeless friends as we eat our dinner in the park. On a side note – a very drunk man passes out on the steps of a doner cafe, and a few French woman try to hail down the cops to help him. They seem concerned, not angry. It makes me like France.

Berk-sur-McDo's

Berk-sur-McDo’s

Thursday May 16th (Day 32)

Berck is not so great day two. The beach is nice, there is sun, but, wow, this town is small. Without much success, we head out of town in the evening. At least the veches like our singing! When we reach the peage at dusk, we energetically decide to sneak around it and hike the freeway so we can get farther away from Berck. Three miles later, we walk off the freeway and camp behind a few bushes.

Friday May 17th (Day 33)

Walking the A-10 freeway is not so bad, but we can’t find any exits! The cops can find us, however. They give us a stern warning not to walk the freeway or, “we’ll take you to our office.” What? no free ride? French cops seem more intimidating than English cops, until one of them returns and starts looking for his lost keys. We end up in the countryside walking all day until we reach the train station in Rue. Time to let the train accelerate our journey. We end up in Abbeville, but no people out at night. Instead of busking the town, we strike up a conversation with a hippie-attired French girl who offers us a place to stay for the night. More craziness: Claire takes us to her home out in the town of Eu (pronounced ‘uh’) and on the bus a school kid hands us a pinch of hash. Well – okay!

architecture in Dieppe

your standard castle/church/old building/tourist attraction in Europe

Saturday May 18th (Day 34)

We head to Dieppe. We busk Dieppe. We have a crowd and sell CDs. We make 60€! We are so happy! At 9 pm it starts to rain.

Sunday May 19th (Day 35)

Dieppe. We wake up behind a Lidl grocery store with our tend sagging in on us from all the rain. It’s hard to get up when it’s raining, we’re waiting for a break in the weather, but nothing! Soaked, we run to McDonalds to dry out. We check the map. The dark cloud of Europe still reigns! Not wanting to wait it out in Rouen, we head to the train station and buy tickets halfway to Rouen. We intend to hitchhike but really don’t want to get off the train in the rain, so we lazily “miss our destination” right before the conductor comes by to check tickets. Rather than punish us, however, the train conductor not only lets us ride all the way to Rouen, a bigger city and better option, but also convinces the station master to give us free tickets on the returning train so we can get to the proper destination. Yay! Some good luck. We even manage to make 30€ busking Rouen! Even more good luck! But to pay for our misguided ‘train-hopping’, we spend 3 hours finding a place to sleep in super-built-up Rouen, and end up camping next to the Gare in such an obvious place we dare not set up our tent.

This weeks lessons? It rains more in Normandy than it does in the UK. Hey England – be thankful for your weather!

the rouen sncf gare

Gare in Rouen

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