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The little adventures of Jo! Travel with me on my overdue gap year around the world :)

Meeting a Myth

FRANCE | Monday, 10 June 2013 | Views [297]

I'm finally in Avignon, a town in the beautiful region of Provence in France. It's been a dream of mine to visit the lavender fields one day that are synonymous with Provence, but unfortunately, that day has yet to come. I found out a little too late that it is tricky for a backpacker to see them because a visit to these famed fields requires a car which also translates to being expensive. Not to be let down, I thought of the ingenious idea of cycling to them but alas, I was informed I was too early for them as well. It's a bit of a disappointment but Provence didn't let me go without seeing and smelling fresh lavender. I found some walking along Avignon's walls! Needless to say, I pinched a few sprigs for my backpack.

Apart from being well-placed to explore the rest of Provence, Avignon is famous for its Palais des Papes, an immense building which housed the Popes for several years when they moved away from the Vatican in the 1300s, and Pont Saint-Benezet, the original bridge to nowhere (that used to go somewhere). With a city centre that has a diameter of no bigger than 1km, it's easy to explore.The city caters surprisingly well to tourists not only with their maps with suggested self-guided walks but also a free pass that enables you to score discounts when you visit its attractions.

On my way here, I questioned why I had chosen to book five nights here in a small town and even contemplated leaving early. Thankfully, I discovered that the city's slower pace (the city was almost a ghost town on Sunday as most things were shut) was exactly what I needed after so many late nights in Barcelona.

The title of this post refers to a person I met on the train to Perpignan. While he's a person I only had to meet once and not meet again, he is by far the strangest but most intriguing person I've met throughout my trip. I had wanted to include him in my last post but he didn't really quite fit in. I've now realized it's the same with him and the world, but he is incredibly special and deserves a mention.

I recognized Greg from Serbia on the train as a fellow traveller - he didn't look Spanish o French, was very sunburned and carried only a small backpack, a tent and a sleeping bag. He approached me to check that he was on the right train as he was planning to get off several stops before Perpignan. It turns out that Greg doesn't really follow plans anyway. His original travel plan was to go to Morocco to get to Senegal but that plan flew out the window and he developed a walking habit. That's right. Greg walks. He walks everywhere and without any set destination or goal. He walked all over Morocco, then travelled to Spain to walk all over the south coast. Tired of arid scenery, he decided to make tracks to France because he heard that the mountains and lakes were nice.

When the train pulled up to his stop, Greg didn't get off. He followed me to Perpignan. I had enticed him with talk of the hostel I was staying at in Perpignan. It wasn't the thought of a bed that interested him as he claimed that he'd never been more comfortable than sleeping in his tent. It was the thought of a proper shower that made him change his mind. As I looked at his only map for walking - shockingly, a printout of France from Google, watched him nervously wonder if he had 30 euros on his credit card for the hostel, and saw him venture into the girls' dorm for toiletries for his shower, I gained a true appreciation of how much of a hardcore traveller he is.

Greg is the traveller you often hear about but never meet - a myth. Many travellers aspire to be like him, possibly even boast about being like him but never really reach that level. It takes a lot of guts. Greg is the ultimate traveller - a true wanderer.

Tags: cities, european adventure, flowers, friendly strangers, sightseeing, trains

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