Saying goodbye to Prague was harder than I ever thought it would be. It’s strange how a foreign place can become your home in barely more than a week. But in just 10 days we’ve become best friends with the front desk attendent named Johan, found a favorite café for gelato and breakfast, and memorized the streets to and from the best places in the city.
The taxi ride to the airport and the flight to Paris was stressful and bittersweet, because as excited as we all were for seeing France for the first time, it seems hard for anything to compare to the first stop of our trip. It also didn’t help that we happened to be in the Charles de Gaulle Airport just as there was a lockdown due to some suspicious baggage left unattended. After waiting in a crowded wing of the airport as armed guards patrolled the area, we were taken by surprise by a loud explosion, which we believe was the bomb squad taking care of the situation. Not exactly what we had planned for our layover at the airport.
The train ride from Paris to Arles, despite being tiring, was actually very smooth and pleasant. Almost everyone fell asleep on our first train, so I behaved in a mature fashion by taking selfies with everyone sleeping.
Our second train was even better because it had personal compartments, and many of us likened it to taking the Hogwarts Express. Upon arriving, we immediately noticed that Arles is completely different from Prague. The smaller winding streets, and generally more calm and small-town feel are certainly a change from the bustling crowds of the Czech Old Town Square. Most of our night was spent settling into our beautiful hostel next to the ruins, and finding something to eat. A few of us battled through the French language menu at a pizzeria and were rewarded with delicious food and syrup drinks. Even the surprise of free tap water and ice, which Elizabeth was especially excited about.
Crowding into our hostel for the night, we were serenaded by the loud music from the ruins next door, which also serves as an amphitheater. Once again, we are coming into a city with no expectations, but looking forward to what Arles will bring.