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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

BACKPACKING EUROPE: Amiens, France

Wandering the streets of Amiens

After a long, sweaty 12 hour journey from Coventry to France, we finally arrived at our first destination, Amiens. This was the first time I had stepped foot in France so I was feeling very nervous and anxious about meeting the people and attempting to speak the language. As my eyes glazed over the foreign directions of this new country, we stepped out of the train station and tried to figure out where to go next.

Claire, a beautiful French girl living in Amiens, 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 and her boyfriend Richard, when they were visiting family in Coventry last year. When he told them we were coming to Amiens (a few weeks before we were leaving for our backpacking trip across Europe), they instantly wanted to meet up and welcome us to their city.

Claire's brother, Una, Claire and me

As we walked through the cobbled streets of this French, picardy town, Claire introduced us to more and more people along the way, including Aurelien, an aspiring photographer who was hosting us for the night at his apartment for free! Luckily they all spoke very good English, otherwise we would be communicating by random sign language and the few French words I remembered from school 9 years ago!

Aurelien's apartment was a mixture of French decor and Indonesian art, as his girlfriend Una (above) was of Indonesian decent and had moved over to Amiens four years ago to study Fashion but had previously studied Cinematography. They had invited us to a BBQ at Claire's so we dropped off our bagpacks and headed to the supermarket to stock up on beer and burgers.

I met various people that night, all with different hopes and dreams but similar ways of life; Miriyam, a beautiful girl who made her own jewellery and was now competing for a spot in one of the best schools to further her passion; Claire's brother (I feel so rude that I cannot remember his name, especially because he had me in stitches all night!) who was an events organiser and Richard, the lead singer and guitarist in a band called Wolves and Moons.

They were determined, relaxed people who knew what they wanted from life but were not in a rush to get there. We shared similar views about life and it just made me think that although, we may live in a different place and and speak different languages, we are all the same at the core. Our sense of humor was the same, even if we said words or phrases in different ways like, 'Je m'en bat les couilles,' translates to 'I whip my balls and bounce it' and is the equivalent to 'I don't give a shit' in English! I 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 like I had known these people all of my life. I kept turning to Jack with a big grin on my face and saying, "We're in France!" I was having so much fun that I struggled to take any of it in.

As it got to 1:00am and people started to say goodbye, (it was a Tuesday night after all and they all had work or class in the morning), I began to feel grateful for my first night in France and slightly overwhelmed. I 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, this is what life is about.

When we got back to the apartment, Una and Miriyam got out their guitar and began to sing, it was truly beautiful and it was the perfect way to end our first night.

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