After traveling through England and Ireland, I am now in Annecy, France! Initially an intimidating place, I’m slowly coming to love France.
Here’s my latest vlog entry – not full of stunning landscape shots yet… but I wanted to get something up and I want to start posting more often.
Arriving in Annecy
Because I decided to spend a month in each place when I began this excursion (and there are huge AirBnB discounts for booking whole months), I somehow ended up doing a lot of traveling between destinations on Sundays. This was fine until I hit mainland Europe!
I arrived in Geneva around midday, and the usual single bus trip to Annecy, France (about an hour west, over the border) wasn’t happening. So I had to take two buses, two trains and a taxi to get to my AirBnB. Couple that with having never used French in a real world situation, it was a challenging journey!
I found that, despite the usual stories about the French being rude and arrogant, everyone I met was very friendly and helpful. I was told that if you make the effort to speak French – even if the listener speaks English – you’ll be appreciated much more than if you start talking English right away. This makes sense! Imagine, as a Kiwi, a tourist coming up to you and asking questions in German. It’s only courtesy to try and communicate with the locals in their own language, and if they know yours, they’ll try and help you.
The place I’m staying at is nice, I essentially have it to myself, and it’s a short bus trip to the main centre of Annecy. I’m actually staying in the suburb known as Annecy-le-Vieux or Old Annecy. There’s a beautiful little village there, which I checked out on my first night while looking for milk. Nope, no shops open on a Sunday! I ended up finding an open pub and being charged €20 for a glass of wine and a tray of charcuterie.
Carrefour (which means Crossroads) is the main supermarket brand around here and that’s where my French was first put to the test. I didn’t do too badly! I have to work on my pronunciation (“MOOLti-vit-AHMEENS” is how you pronounce multivitamins) and of course, being able to say something is not that hard, understanding the rapid, heavily-accented response is! But I’ve been to the local Carrefour a couple of times, and in general, it’s like most supermarkets (except you don’t usually see horse meat in the butchery section!).
In general, the French are very considerate drivers – they stop politely for you at pedestrian crossings. Because they drive on the right you have to pay particular attention when crossing the road. It’s not just the unnatural act of looking the wrong way to check for oncoming traffic, it’s telling your brain that traffic coming from that way is a hazard!
One of the main reasons I came to Annecy was to meet Furiial. They’re a pair of young beat boxers aiming to make it big. They had to confidence and determination to reach out to me to promote them to our audience of 7 million on Facebook, and I was impressed by their skill and professionalism. If you haven’t seen them already, check them out on YouTube Channel, Instagram and Facebook.
I’m going to make a music video for these guys, and an interview, and use the skills I have to help them make more of a name for themselves online. It seems I’m always mentoring people with passion and talent… I guess that’s my raison d’etre!