Traveling The World In A Day Part II

I headed down the platform and remembered all the things my friend had told me. She asked that I not talk to anyone and maintain all my luggage. She told me to hurry down the platform and exit north or Nord as they call it. When I went down the stairs my friend was there with balloons and a cabbie sign. She attempted to give the balloons to some children but they just ran from the gesture. I didn't even have an opportunity to breathe before I was on yet on another train. We passed gardens, a castle, bustling streets. I had planned to just throw down my stuff and go celebrate being 32 in France. She had an orientation at school in the morning and I was delirious. So we wound up at a small cafe near the train stop. There I had my first beer in France and a little dessert cake. I looked out, it was 9 PM and perfectly still daylight. I pinched myself and took a few pictures while she presented me with a birthday card. We then walked a daunting twenty minutes with all my luggage to her friends house. There I wound up finally connecting to wi-fi, taking a shower and passing out for the night. I hadn't been sleep before midnight in ages and then I had to be forced to wake to go to my hotel. 

I was terribly jet lagged. I didn't know what day it was, the time or anything. We walked a good hour total sharing the luggage load to my hotel. It was well off the beaten path. It actuality there was no real path to it, several trams and miles later it was down a hill, around a corner and a complete block down even further. When we walked in there was a thick feeling of no ac in the lobby. Then I get in the room and find no view and no electricity it was all primitive. We figured out that electricity was controlled by the room key and wouldn't stay on no more than five minutes with the key after room entry. Later I found out that wasn't some green or European thing but quite familiar to avid travelers even in the states. Out of the window there was a suburb view on one side and a major highway on the other. I was minutes away from a McDonald's. I had traveled over 10,000 miles in one day for that - a pre-fab fast food restaurant as a view. Later that evening I realized my room had a hidden kitchen which was a big plus considering McDonalds was my only dinner option. My room was so remote I had live chickens as neighbors. I noticed that wi-fi didn't work in my room or anywhere but the first floor lobby area. This was the point where I realized communication was going to be a nightmare. In order to use my phone as intended I had to go downstairs to all common areas for wi-fi. There was an ethernet in my room but only at the desk. The time change was extreme. I couldn't speak with anyone in the states until after midnight and most friends worked or attended school until 9 or 10 at night. So most nights, I would get dressed and go downstairs between 3 and 5 am to text. Oddly, there was a roaming troupe of security guards and someone at front desk at those hours. One night I stayed down there so long I witnessed the baker bringing in bread for that days breakfast. Sitting in the lobby there was no ac but open doors and windows. At night the temperature varied from 40 to 50 degrees. So I sat in this brisk air on a leather chair in lounge clothes. I had no real pajamas assuming I would be in my room on wifi or using my phone. Of course within 48 hours I was sick.

The illness was no virus or bug. It was simply a combination of jetlag, climate change and loss of equilibrium. I spent most alone time not sleeping but barking up a lung and using every tissue in sight. I then gave the bug to my friend and we both lived off citrus, cough drops and donated tissue from local friends. My little kitchen was loaded with market faire - oranges, grapefruit, yogurt etc. It took me a total of six days to get back to normal. I pretty much flushed the sickness with Evian and slept the rest of it away. In that time, I did experience a few outings, met some people and stayed in a traditional French flat. I did all of that quite sick and mentally off because of the time change. If it weren't for advice about sleeping after travel I'd still be on permanent vampire time. I'd just sleep all day and rise at night completely wired. Instead I had to adapt by staying up and busy to sleep at midnight or later and wake when ready. This was also confusing because Europe has a tendency to stay light out past twilight hours. It was always daylight until 10pm so even appropriate sleep for locals seemed impossible. Most people dined at 8 or 9pm and socialized until 2 or 4am on a weekday. 

The best advice I could give is never to travel like I did. Never. Ever.

I would have chosen a more elaborate hotel my first few days. You need something luxurious if only for one day. Allow yourself a traditional setting where you can communicate, get comfortable and sleep well. I should have had in-room wifi since I didn't have a carrier sim for my phone. I should have had access to things around me like restaurants, a pharmacy etc. I should have arrived days ahead of meeting anyone and given myself a proper sleep schedule. Of course there was no way to predict my travel trauma but there was ways I could have prevented it. I didn't properly research my first hotel stays. I didn't realize how long I'd have to lug all my bags to those said hotels. I pretty much thought I was invincible to jetlag and all of the above. Three countries and multiple time zone changes later I now know the consequences. I would also say get a seasonal forecast before buying clothes and or packing. I thought Summer was everywhere at the same time but it just hadn't come where I was going. I was so unprepared for the weather and overstocked on things I wouldn't use for over a month. Six vampire days later I was good to go. Sadly, my first days in France were recovery from my first days in France. My dream turned nightmare and I wouldn't wish it on my worse enemy.

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