You know, for a while the whole not having a car thing didn't bother me. The weather in Vichy was cool most of the time, though it did rain a lot. I never had to worry about it being hot outside. I will admit, however, that the town is vastly bigger than the OU study abroad office made it sound.
"Oh yes, Vichy is a quaint little town and everything is within a short walking distance. You'll love it!"
No. Everything is not within a SHORT walking distance. The necessities are relatively close, except for the Monoprix (the French version of Target you could say) and Sephora which housed many of my, and the other girls, necessities.
After a few days we all got used to walking everywhere: the grocery store, restaurants, class, the train station, and the bars. We overcame our innate laziness and adapted to the European style of walking to freaking Jerusalem and back everyday. I'm not going to lie, I started loving it. My clothes fit looser, and the fresh air did me good. I finally came to understand why America is so fat. Unless you live in New York or another massive city with public transportation, you probably don't walk anywhere. So yes, walking can actually be fun if you don't live in Oklahoma were it's 8 billion degrees outside.
This one particular evening though, we decided to be adventurous. It was Friday night and we wanted to go to the horse races. I mean it's France, right? We wanted to do something classy and what not. We dressed up all cute and met in the dorms so we could walk over to the arena together.
I was being lazy that day and decided to not wear a dress. But being me, I had to wear heels to compensate for the lack of "fanciness" in my outfit choice. There were eight of us that decided to go to the horse races, and none of us knew where the arena even was.
|Travis, me, Diana, Madeline, Katherine, Paige and Jon|
We headed in the general direction because someone told us it was just a "little ways" past the river. The river itself took about 30 minutes to get to, and because it was just my luck, it decided to be disgustingly hot that night. I was dying and sweating like man, and complaining to everyone who would listen. I started walking slower, and slower, and my feet felt like they had been bandaged and shoved under a boulder by crazy Chinese women. Needless to say, the rest of the group was far ahead of me, and my best friend Derrick had gone back to the dorms to try to find our friend Jennifer.
Jon, the self proclaimed "southern gentleman" of the group, decided to walk with me. We talked about pretty much everything, even my dad dying which I normally don't talk about. I can be reserved but Jon, and all the others, eventually got me to open up. I think they figured out that if they harassed me long enough I would start being myself around them. Derrick probably told them - we became best friends freshman year at OU in English class.
Anyway, after miles and miles worth of conversation, Jon decided to give me his Sperry's and go barefoot. Twenty minutes later though, the road had gotten the best of his feet and I surrendered his shoes so he wouldn't die. It was a kind gesture from him, nevertheless.
After what seemed like three hours (I will never know how long that walk actually was), we made it to the damn horse races. We decided to sit in the grass, as close to the horses as possible, and I immediately ditched the high heels.
|Jon, me, and Travis being an idiot|
There was a fashion show beforehand, and everyone in the arena was dressed like they were at the Kentucky Derby. That's when we realized that we were living in the "bad part" of Vichy, and this arena was in the good part. So we'd survived a week in the French ghetto? What badasses.
About a half an hour later, Derrick and Jennifer finally found us. I was relieved to see I wasn't the only one who was an idiot and wore heels. Despite the fact that Jennifer's, and my, feet were sliced open and oozing like Thanksgiving turkies, we had a good time.
|Jennifer, Derrick, and me|
Then the race was over.
I tried my hardest to put the heels back on, but it was just not happening.
"What are you doing? Are you really walking barefoot all the way back?"
Derrick was, of course, concerned about my vile sliced up feet getting diseases from all the "nasties" that walk around France. Being the protective brother type, Derrick gave me his shoes, and he tried to stuff his feet in my size 5 1/2 Gianni Bini's. It didn't work out, so he just walked around in his socks.
If I thought the journey there was bad, the way back was almost as horrid. At least I had on shoes though, so I can't complain too much. Poor Jennifer had to keep her shoes on most of the way, because although Jon tried to be a badass and give her his, he just couldn't take walking on the gravel. He did let Jennifer lean on him for a while so she wouldn't collapse from sheer pain. Derrick was a trooper and let me keep his shoes the entire way back. I probably would have died if he hadn't. Have you ever had to walk in heels with open wounds? It's excruciating.
|Derrick near the end of our walk back|
So friends, when the Europeans tell you something is just around the corner... DO NOT under any circumstances believe them. Call a taxi.