05 May Bonjour France, Bonjour Metz
The first stages in France I had to plan a bit strategically, because there was a nuclear power plant on the way, and around it, on the map, many restricted areas were marked. Since I don’t know what kind of restricted areas these are, they could be military installations for example, even I don’t want to camp wild there. So I decided to end the first stage, a few kilometers before the nuclear power plant. So we already looked for a suitable place after 12 km, to spend the night. We found a very nice spot, hidden behind a fallen tree, in a large meadow. However, we got there very early and spent a few hours waiting and watching in our chairs. The night was okay, the morning again very cold. We packed up and started walking, always keeping the cooling towers of the nuclear power plant in sight.
After about 7 km we had circled the nuclear power plant, reached the next small town and found a kebab store for breakfast. After that, a real French eclair from the bakery melted on the tongue and marched on. When we had walked enough kilometers, left the restricted zones behind us, Johanna got a little grumpy until she finally said that she didn’t want to camp wildly if possible and poof, at that moment we ran past an advertising poster for a hotel that was supposedly just a minute’s drive away. This motivated Johanna’s forces and her mood. At what speed the car should drive to be at the hotel in one minute was not noted. We walked a total of 23 km that day and arrived at a hotel whose rooms were, cool wise, each accessible from the outside and thus we had no stairs to master.
The start the next morning was accordingly pleasant. Metz was still 30 km away, I picked out three spots on the map that could be potential places to sleep. It was very warm, the landscape incredibly beautiful, characterized by agriculture. We had reached the first potential sleeping place too quickly, we passed the second one arguing, so it absolutely had to be the third one, because it was too far to Metz, but the landscape became urban and offered no more green hiding places. My chosen spot would have been great if there hadn’t been “monitored private property” signs everywhere. O oooh, there were heated discussions again, but eventually we got our heads together again and found a great place to sleep in the area.
Knowing well that I would be putting the tent up again in the evening, I packed it up quite wet, as it had been standing in the tall grass all night. At a nearby rest area we had a leisurely breakfast and then walked towards Metz. It was very warm and Johanna was pretty beat up. At the entrance to Metz we headed for a McDonald and treated ourselves to wraps, cold drinks and I treated myself to an ice cream. That’s when Johanna opened up to me that she definitely doesn’t want to sleep in the tent. I was blindsided. Again there were arguments and again they made up. I rented an apartment “Les Cocktailes” via Booking.com. Once there we were pleased with the location, it was right in the center of the city, right in the middle of life. Only the address given worried me a lot. The associated door was small, dull, between two bars without any marking of “Les Cocktailes”. At booking.com it was written that I have to pay here. Okay, but where? I called the number that went with it. A young man with very broken English (better broken than none) and a strong other accent (not French) sent me a link to provide my credit card information. There was also no amount to be debited on this website, it seemed like a blank check and still I had no indication of the room.
I became skeptical and called the number again and he assured me that all was well. Johanna, already quite desperate, told me to pay. On the journey, I want to learn to be more open to my fellow human beings and trust them more. So I gave my details and lo and behold, on the next page the agreed amount appeared. Again I called the number, then it took a while for the landlord to see the booking with him and we got the access codes, the one for the drab gray front door and one for the key safe and the info, we have the room “Pina Colada”. Finally we could get away from the raging life of the masses, because like in a movie, all the time a loud demonstration passed us by, while I was on the phone with the landlord.
With our fully packed wagons we were also always the eye-catcher and felt quite out of place waiting. So “tristes Türlein öffne dich” (open the sad little door) and we were inside. Inside in the hallway, which was as wide as the trolleys and not much longer, we closed the front door to unpack the trolleys and carry the bags one by one to our apartment. Our “Pina Colada” was of course on the top floor, 4th floor and the staircase can be compared to that of a medieval church, narrow, coiled, wooden, creaky, with the charm of the past. Just as we were about to begin, the dreary door opened again, the owners of the bar located on the ground floor entered and made us understand that the corridor on which we and our trolleys were standing was a trap door, and they absolutely had to get in there. So carts out again, wait and then with new momentum in, unbuckle bags and five times (including carts) up and down the stairs. Quite exhausted, but happy, I looked at our apartment. Stepping through the front door is like stepping into another world, bright, spacious, modern. Hammer, the trust had paid off! So we resided over two floors of our own and could even dry the tent hung over the ironing board.
I liked Metz very much, thousands of alleys with countless stores, restaurants, cafes, bars, which were also all used. French city life as clichéd as you can imagine.