As you know from the previous post, I was in Pouilley-les-Vignes, a village not far from Besançon, in Eastern France, but my final destination for this country, according to The Plan, was in fact Avignon.The idea was to abandon most of my luggage here, at my friend, leave the trailer and all the heavy things, and go to Avignon, as light as possible. Ergo: I needed to buy a backpack!

 

The day before, Adi took me to this nice „used items” shop called emmaus.
People donate stuff to this place, they sell them, and use the money for charity. You can find all sort of useful, cheap things there. So I bought a backpack that helped me continue my trip.
I could have spend some time here to work on my bike (because it needs a lot of work), and continue the trip as planned, or… try something new.
Fixing the bike would have been an idea, then I could have cycled 3-4 days more until Avignon, but instead I choose to try hitchhiking! I told you since Day 2 that after talking to Maddo, the idea came to my mind that I HAVE TO TRY HITCHHIKING at some point.. Well, the moment was now! And this way I save 3 days that I can use to visit Avignon, instead 🙂
Adi was also going away to visit some relatives so he dropped me off in Besançon before the entrance to the highway (toll gates – there is a highway fee you have to pay in France). There, on the sidewalk, there was already another hitchhiker. He had been waiting for a while and was trying to get to Grenoble.. that meant that until Lyon (at least), we were going the same way 🙂
I was switching between my signs: one for Avignon, and one for Lyon… He had one with Grenoble but since nobody stopped so far, he decided to write one for someplace closer: the first big city along the way, Dole.Not long after this change a nice Lexus stopped for us. Direction? Lyon! Perfect, my sign did his job!  I couldn’t believe my luck! The driver (Pascal) had enough space for us both! Since my french isn’t that good, I sat on the backseat and Martin, my hitchhiking colleague was in front, maintaining the dialogue.

The trip was extremely pleasant and we got there after about 2 hours and a half (give or take). Since Pascal was going to the airport, not further away on the highway, he dropped us off right after the toll gates, said our farewells and then continued his trip.

13:58 – I took the time here to take a picture with my hitchhiking colleague. Meet Martin:

 

The problem with this place was that it had no shade whatsoever and it was on the highway… so no pedestrian access ways in or out of this „parking place”. If no car stops for us, we couldn’t move for a better place 🙁 Another minus was the fact that there were about 6 lanes going out of the toll gates so only the first one or the first two could see us and have the possibility to stop. That was substantially reducing our chances…
Some cars stopped for a break, others to change drivers… but one stopped for us! I went to the car to ask where is he going and the first answer was something like: ”no French, English, please”. First surprise. Than he told me the direction: Avignon! Wow!! Can you believe my luck? I don’t think 15 minutes passed since Pascal dropped us off, and I managed to find my next ride! Great!! I said goodbye to Martin, wished him best of luck in finding a ride, and then got in the car. Again, a nice comfortable car! And an english-speaking driver! Yep, lucky lucky day for me!
My current driver was also a tourist, like me. He was coming from Norway (not far from Denmark, right?) and was heading to visit a friend near Avignon. He wasn’t really sure of the road, and the GPS was doing some weird things so we took some strange detours at some point… we tried with my GPS (phone) and eventually we got it right and passed the section of the highway that showed as „blocked” thus confusing the on board navigation system.
16:24 – small break. Good time for a snack!

 

 

17:20 –  We arrived at „the fork in the road”. Actually it was the place that Silviu and I agreed to meet, the place where my driver had to exit the highway in order to get to his destination. In the parking lot we exchanged contact info and I took some pictures.
Let me introduce you to Martin (see, another coincidence: I met two Martins in one day!):

 

 

Martin, thank you again for a wonderful trip!!

 

So this was my first hitchhiking experience, and it was great! I mean, I found rides really fast, got picked up by extremely nice people, with comfortable cars and with air conditioning – which really made a difference in that hot summer day – made new friends, and got to my destination faster than I could have ever imagined!

 

THANK YOU!!!

 

After a little more waiting Silviu was here…

He picked me up and then I got to see for the first time the city of Avignon .. starting with the outside walls:

 

followed by the very festival-busy streets…

 

 

and the grass facade* of Les Halles,

 

 

… thousands of posters all over.

 

 

…and many many tourists, artists and fun!

 

 

* Never before coming to France have I seen plants growing like that on walls. This kind of decor is awesome! I first saw it in Besançon, and now here at „Les Halles” Nice!

And this was not a visit in the city… it was just the way „home” 🙂

 

 

By night we were already in Aix-en-Provence, at a small and very friendly party. Just before midnight, four of us went out in search of some caches, and to enjoy a pleasant walk, of course. We visited and found three caches that were nearby.

 

 

The next day It started to rain just when I was finding my first cache in Avignon (GC351PG) so I stayed mostly indoor.

 

 

 

Silviu and Cyrielle were hosting a couchsurfer when I arrived there. This is all of us, just before having dinner, a special dinner cooked by Gun, our Korean friend!

 

 

So, I am finally in Avignon! This is in fact my destination for this summer. This guy, to the right (corner) of the picture is the reason why I am here, the reason I started on this itinerary … It’s because of him I got the idea to come to France. It’s him I have to thank for all of this! And I have to thank both of them for having me here, in their home… And I thank Gun for his gifts and the dinner he prepared…
and…
But wait.. what am I doing? This is just the beginning of the story! Many many things have happened starting from here. About them you will read in the next posts…