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The long haul

September 25, 2010

Funnily enough, the title refers to both the time I spent in transit from Melbourne to Lyon, and what I’ll be in for while searching for a place to live. As I begin my fourth full day here, I’m trying to put off heading down to more agences to receive my dose of disappointment by writing a summary of what has happened so far.

On a cold Melbourne night I waited around the international lounge until 11pm, when my flight opened after a short delay. I was determined to break my can’t-sleep-on-planes hoodoo by ignoring the extensive entertainment channels offered by Qatar Airways and instead pulled on a blanket and shut my eyes. An hour into the flight however, dinner came. With a full(er) stomach, I settled back to try to sleep again.

As so often happens in these situations, I’m not sure exactly when I finally managed to drift off to sleep, but I awoke with 4 hours until the stopover in Doha. I amused myself with a couple of movies and later stepped into the early morning heat of Doha (30 degrees at 5am is simply not fair). I waited a couple of hours in the sticky airport before the connection to Paris opened and I was once again en route. The second leg was uneventful, I’d given up on sleep by this point and instead planned my visa-related questions for immigration.

The plane touched down a little after 2pm and off I trundled to immigration. Through a combination of lack of sleep and no recent exposure to French, I grappled to understand what the immigration officer replied to my questions before heading to the baggage carousel to wait for my 24kg bohemoth. Suitcase acquired, I headed for the train station, waving away the various ‘taxi drivers’ who approached me. 20 minutes later, I was in Paris.

The queue for tickets at Gare de Lyon was obscene, but I gritted my teeth and stood in the line for the next 40 minutes before getting a ticket to Lyon. A quick baguette later, I was on board and speeding south through the countryside. I dozed off on the train and awoke in alarm, thinking I’d missed my stop. Fortunately, it was still 5 minutes away. I disembarked and headed into the warm night for the metro, managing to break a handle on my case in my irritation/impatience of getting it through the ticket barrier.

After a nightmarish walk up an incredibly steep hill, I arrived exhausted at the hostel. In front of me sprawled a school group of 20 students, so I stood and waited while they were checked in. After an age they were done, so I approached reception, only to be told that it was closed between 8pm and 9pm. Fortunately, since the school group had taken so long it was 8.40, and so 20 minutes later I was checked in and struggling up to the third floor. After a shower I crashed into bed and slept soundly.

In the days following, I visited my school and met the teacher I’ll be working with, Caroline. I also went through the mountain of paperwork required by the government or the powers that be for me to work as an assistant. It rained and I got wet. I found a perfect 3 bedroom apartment with an English guy only to find it had been taken. I somehow managed to open a bank account by using the school’s address and only understanding half of the conversation with the bank teller. I got drunk on wine and 1664, hired a bike and rode around Lyon at midnight.

But I still don’t have anywhere to live. Balls.

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