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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

BACKPACKING EUROPE: Rouen & Vernon, France

The Old Mill of Vernon, Vernon
15th April 2015

As I opened my eyes, the smell of second-hand smoke and last night's alcohol filled my nostrils. For a split second I forgot where I was until I my head began to ache and I immediately started to regret how much alcohol I consumed last night. Note to self; when it's thirty degrees outside and it's only your second day backpacking, don't get too drunk the night before. Desperate for water, as I shoved paracetamol down my throat, I realised that my water bottle was empty. Looking back and forth at the kitchen tap, not knowing if the water in France was drinkable (which it is) was probably something that I should have looked up before I left England. Second note to self; find out if the water is safe to drink in another country before you consume eight strong beers and four glasses of champagne OR make sure that your water bottle is always filled up before you go to sleep.

It was 7:00am and we were leaving Amiens today to continue our French adventure. As Jack and I half-heartedly packed our bags, cramming in used belongings into whatever space we could find, our heads were telling us to 'seize the day...' Carpe Diem and all that but our faces were saying otherwise. I was hungover and gross, and all I wanted was my own bed and a Dominoes pizza.

How I felt when I woke up hungover in Amiens





We arrived at our next destination, Rouen, at around 11:00am and thankfully by this point, my hangover had started to evaporate and I began feeling grateful again for my first night in France, as well the people that I had met so far. Jack however, was struggling with a terrible hangover, looking sorry for himself, as he dragged his body around the Old Town. As I took in the sights, trying to appreciate the short space of time that we had in Rouen, Jack continued to mope and avoid daylight. Regretting last night's 'whiskey breaks', he decided that the only breaks he would take from now on were the ones to rest his body from the massive weight that he was carrying around on his back.

The city of Rouen was beautiful, plenty of architecture and churches to admire but after walking around in the sweltering heat for what seemed like hours, we darted to the nearest spot of shade and collapsed on to the cool, concrete floor. The weight of our lives for seven weeks was strapped to our backs, getting heavier by the second. As we gulped down water and tried to figure out what to do next, we simultaneously came to the same conclusion... 'Ah fuck it. Let's find a cafe, book a cheap hotel near by to sort our lives out and try to remember why this whole travelling thing is actually worth it.' It had only been one day and we were already craving a night alone in a hotel.

Hungover in Rouen, France

































As we arrived at our hotel in Vernon, which stood opposite an unimpressive and miserable industrial estate, I realised that our 'home for the night' matched my mood perfectly and it was probably karma for escaping to the comfort of a hotel, two days into our trip. Selfishly barging my way past Jack and muttering some kind of French to the receptionist, all I wanted to do was throw my backpack across the room, rip my clothes off and scrub away the sweat and misery from today's journey.

I immediately felt better after my shower and decided that the location of the hotel wasn't so bad after all until once again, karma slapped us in the face when we realised how difficult it was to find a place to eat, or even a bloody shop! Everything was either closed or miles apart and all I wanted was a cold, fizzy drink. I was tempted to throw myself into the River Siene and deal with the bad shits later on.

After walking for about fifty minutes in a strop, craving any kind of food and drink, we finally stumbled across McDonald's, hooray! 'Yep, that will do nicely,' I thought. I specifically ordered a large meal just for the size of the drink and as I gulped down the cold, disappointing taste of watered down coke, I realised how much of an anticlimax it was. 'Ah fuck it,' I thought, 'You're a traveller now, get used to it.'


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