After two weeks of travels around Northern France, I finally arrived in Toulon this past Monday via TGV train. I was supposed to leave Lille at 8h42 and arrive in Paris at 9h42, with over an hour of time to spare as I traveled across the city via the RER metro from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon… But alas, the city bus I took from My friend Ethan’s house to the train station got stuck in the morning commute, and long story short, I missed my train. Luckily, there was another train leaving for Paris at 9h13, so with a bit of a fast paced attitude I was able to quickly switch my train ticket and make the first connection. The only problem with this is that I was going to arrive in Paris at 10h15, leaving only 30 minutes for me to travel across the city. The man at the station in Lille seemed to think this was entirely possible, so he didn’t think it was necessary to switch my second ticket. I somehow had all the luck in the world. I caught the RER train just before it left (thank god I researched the route before hand) and made it to the other side of Paris in 7 minutes (I told you the RER is useful!) as I mentioned previously, Koni and Marou were meeting me with my 50 pound suitcase. Thank goodness for texting, because I literally arrived two minutes before my train left, so they met me in front of my train car and had basically already put my suitcase on board. (I told you the French were wonderful!) I gave them each a quick bisous and I was off to the south.
I basically traveled the distance of the top of France to the bottom in about 5 hours, going approximately 200 mph, which is amazing. (France and Japan are always competing for the fastest train speeds). When I arrived in Toulon I set out towards the hostel on foot, which was hidden in many of Toulon’s side streets, but I found it okay. There were already two other Canadian assistants staying in the hostel when I arrived, and they were well in their way to finding an apartment. I actually tagged along to see one of them, which was great practice so I knew what to expect. My host mom Catherine arranged one viewing for me, and I had one other viewing scheduled besides that. Thanks to Google maps and awesome hostel staff, both were easy to find.
Though I was originally planning to stay 4 nights at the hostel (or until I found a place to live), it turns out that my mother’s colleague’s friend’s (whom I met this summer) best friend lives in Toulon (try linking that connection). So, after one night, they picked me, a complete stranger, up from the hostel and drove me to their 20-year-old son Jean-Baptiste’s apartment, where he has a spare bedroom. So basically, that’s where I have been staying this past week. I am extremely grateful because this family has done so much to help a complete stranger. Long story short, I found a studio. It’s right on the beach, in a good neighborhood, and close to all of the nightlife, but still quiet. It’s not modern, but it is cheap and is clean. However, it needed a good scrub. So, I have spent this week between my new studio and at JB’s apartment- cleaning and scrubbing the studio, installing Internet, bringing back dishes and sheets to wash in the machines, etc. The Ozenda family has taken me shopping for a microwave, toaster, and have let me borrow a tv and a rug to lighten up the room. It has been such a blessing for these people to help me make my transition to the south of France. Furthermore, the family who takes care of the studio (Monsieur and Madame DeLa Brosse) have invited me to eat lunch twice this week, for which I am eternally grateful (they have also helped me wash some if the sheets and work extensively with the landlord).
This week I also opened a bank account, ordered a new SIM card for my cell phone, bought a bike, went to a rugby match, and spent two afternoons swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, all whilst navigating around my new home. On Sunday I spent the weekend in the village where the Ozenda family lives, about 40 minutes from the city. It was awesome having a bit of time in the countryside.
Tomorrow I am returning to Toulon to organize the apartment again and then meet with the colleagues at the high school where I will be teaching. I also plan to get a bus pass and join a gym. On Tuesday, I am heading to Nice for a four-day stay at the home of my host family’s best friend. I will be completely moved into my apartment next Saturday (I hope)! Orientation is October 2nd and then I finally start work (before having two weeks of vacation at the end of October).
Stay tuned for more details on my adventures.