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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

BACKPACKING EUROPE: Amiens, France

Wandering the streets of Amiens, France

14th April 2015

After a long, sweaty twelve hour journey from England to France, we had finally arrived at our first destination, Amiens. Although, I was excited to explore this unfamiliar city, my eagerness was overlapped by butterflies and anxiety. I was nervous about meeting new people and trying to speak the language.

As my eyes glazed over the foreign directions of this brand-new country, we stepped out of the train station and tried to figure out where to go next. A beautiful and dare I say, the ideal French girl rode towards us on her bicycle to meet my boyfriend (Jack) and I, and the expression on her face instantly made me feel more relaxed. Jack had previously met Claire when she was visiting family in our hometown (Coventry) last year. When Jack told them that we were coming to Amiens, they instantly wanted to meet up and welcome us to their city.

As we wandered along the cobbled streets of this French, picardy town, Claire introduced us to passing friends and other locals, including Aurelien, an aspiring photographer who was hosting us for the night at his apartment. As their French phrases faded into excellent English, I felt more relaxed and confident enough to make conversation, otherwise we would have all been communicating by random sign language and the only few French words that I had remembered from school nine years ago.

Gauthier, Una, Claire and me

Aurelien's studio apartment was a fresh mixture of French decor and Indonesian art, as his girlfriend, Una, was of Indonesian decent and had moved over to Amiens four years ago to study Fashion and Cinematography. As I glanced around the room, falling in love with their laid-back way of life, I was suddenly prompted to leave. We had been invited to a BBQ at Claire’s so we put down our backpacks and headed to the supermarket to stock up on beer and burgers.

I met various people that night, all driven by different hopes and dreams; Miriyam, a beautiful girl who crafted her own jewellery and was now competing for a spot in one of the best schools in France to further her passion; Gauthier who was an DJ and events organiser and Richard, a lead singer and guitarist in a band called 'Wolves And Moons'. They were all refreshingly ambitious, yet free and relaxed. They knew exactly what they wanted from life but were in no rush to get there. We shared similar views about everything and it just made think that although, we may live in different countries and and speak different languages, we are all the same at the core. Even our sense of humour was the same, 'Je m'en bat les couilles,' translates to 'I whip my balls and bounce it, which is the English equivalent to 'I don't give a shit.’ And I bloody loved that.

Words of Wisdom in Aurelien's apartment


After several beers and a couple of glasses of champagne, I was speaking better French than English and as we all danced to a mixture of French music and the Spice Girls, I felt as if I had known these people all of my life. My face was gleaming with happiness and appreciation, turning to Jack erratically and miming, ‘I can’t believe we are here.’ I was having the best time of my life and it was only the beginning.

As the clock hit 1:00am and people began to say goodbye (it was a Tuesday night after all and they all had work or class in the morning), I was still on a high. I hadn’t laughed so hard and so real for the first time since my depression had begun last year and I realised that this was it. This is what travelling is about and more importantly, this is what life is about. 

Stumbling back to Aurelien’s apartment, feeling slightly overwhelmed and ready for bed, Miriyam got out her guitar and Una began to sing. It was truly a pleasant and perfect way to end our first night.

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