I have been home for 2 weeks now and am finally over my jetlag and beginning to settle back into "real" life. I have been resisting strongly being sucked back into the minutiae of a world rife with whingers and nitpickers - so I have begun planning my next trip to distract myself.
Reflecting on the past 4 months: the good, the bad and the ugly.
I loved France but unfortunately the locals do nothing to promote their country to the tourist trade. The ex-pats I met were the heart and soul of my trip - wonderful people every last one of them - but the French nationals turned my exquisite experience into an ugly one. I can say with certainty that out of the hundreds of French I came into contact with in my 10 weeks, only two had risen above the level of surly: the young lass in the newsagent in Paris and the waitress in Guemene-Penfao.
And what a shame that is! Such a beautiful country with so much to offer, but made to feel so unwelcome by its inhabitants.
I had been told that in northern France the locals love Aussies. This may have been true in the past but not any longer. Claude, Collette and Yves were delightful but most French younger than 50 have no interest in history and the part that the Australians played in it. They did not acknowledge that we were anything other than non-French and being on the receiving end of such racism was confronting and certainly an eye-opener for this little white girl.
I will not be bringing my tourist dollars back to France and I will never again be risking my life on the French roads. I will instead spend my holidays in Italy, Switzerland, Germany and explore new frontiers of Croatia, Turkey and Eastern Europe.
And I will do it all on a SCOOTER!
As I said in my previous rant, you don't need a big bike, you just need the right attitude.
While I hunt for 3 Postie bikes for my next trip Around The Block with Belle and Nads, I will be putting that theory to the ultimate test.
One final note about the Gear. I tried to pack light but think I can pack lighter still. Although I used every single item I took with me (with the exception of the First Aid kit thankfully) I think I could trim it down further if I tried. It is amazing how few clothes a person needs and as I've never been a victim of fashion so I'm looking forward to trialling the minimalist look.
The best piece of equipment was most certainly the Exped Synmat airbed. I could never have believed how comfortable it was until I tried it and after 3 months, I can honestly say it was as good as a real mattress. Altho Nads pointed out it would have lasted one night with the African thorns, so I will be testing one of these stretchers with the Australian spinifex.
The best motorcycle jacket I've ever owned is definitely the Matador Cinco with the mesh panel zip-downs. They are so good I've bought one each for Belle and Nads ready for their arrival next June.