June 26 – Thursday
This was by far the most difficult day of our trip so far. I knew it would be and had been feeling much angst about it before hand. It was a situation of not knowing what we don’t know and having to pay expensive lessons to learn.
First we needed to get European sim cards in order to be able to make phone calls. Something isn’t right with our phones and we can only receive texts, not send them. But we can make calls. Which was good.
Next we decided to go to the Gard Du Nord to see how the trains worked. I suggested we buy our tickets now rather than wait. What an inspiration that was. Bradford got in line to buy tickets and we went wandering. We came back to find military men with guns blocking the way to buy tickets. Bradford was at the window buying our tickets. They had cleared out the room just 2 minutes after he got to the window. Each ticket was 60 Euro, I know that you can get them for as little as 15 Euro, the cost of waiting. But at least we got them.
Next we had to figure out how to get our luggage from the apartment to the train station in time. Kevin thankfully showed up at 4:05, which turns out gave us just enough time to get to the station. He was surprised to discover that we had washed all the linens. So thankful in fact that he didn’t care that Johnny had broken a bowl.
We ordered a private car using Uber. We decided to get the black car level hoping that it would be able to fit our luggage. It barely did. Because of all the construction, it was taking a very long time to get to the train station. I could tell that at the current pace we would miss our train which would cost an extra 48 Euro. So I prayed and prayed that something would change. Suddenly the driver turned the wrong way down a one way street, flipped the car around and drove backwards up the street! Using back roads he got us to the train station in time. The trip was 24 Euro but we tipped him anyway for his excellent driving.
Once we got to the train station with our luggage, we waited to find out which platform would be ours. We thankfully were standing at the right spot. We bought 2nd class tickets so we had to walk to the other end of the train. We were in car 7 but didn’t know that our seats were actually closer to car 6. So we walked all the way to the entrance of car 7 and then back through the aisles to get to our seats. Getting our luggage onto the racks was not easy for Bradford. He was exhausted by the time he sat down, what a trooper he is.
The train ride was wonderful. Very quiet, relaxing, and gorgeous scenery. I was struck with how much it looked like Illinois. I can see why my ancestors chose Illinois to settle, it probably reminded them of home.
Once we got off the train, we then had to figure out how to get to our apartment. We found a taxi stand and looked for the biggest taxi we could find. He didn’t seem too anxious to help us and told us to go to the black taxi which was much smaller. But we were wrong, he was actually telling us to go to the back of the taxi so we could put our luggage in there.
Driving through the streets of Lille was fun. Such a beautiful city and so different from Pairs. I can’t think of a city in the U.S. it reminds me of but definitely something back East. Boston maybe?
The cab ride was 15 Euro. We were greeted by Emeline who I have been emailing quite a bit. She was nice but made it clear that this was the end of her duties with us and to call someone else if we have any problems. She should us around the apartment which is much bigger than I thought it would be. I think we will be quite comfortable here if we can find the source of Alice’s allergies. We need to rewash all the sheets first and foremost.
The back of the apartment has a little courtyard that is neglected and dirty. Johnny has been tasked with cleaning it up so that it can be a nice place of for us to enjoy. Johann (our landlord) was pleased to know this and told us that there is even a barbeque out there that we can use. Maybe we’ll grill for the 4th?