I leave for Switzerland and France next Thursday (9 July), and the moment has come where I have to gather all of my books together and assess how I will pack everything while still keeping my luggage under the weight maximum (23 kg or 50 pounds per bag). Since there is no weight limit for carry-on luggage, I am going to load my backpack with books. Thus I will bust my back as I check in at the airport however once I land in Zürich I will repack everything.
There is quite a lot of study material I have to bring with me: all my Romansch workbooks and dictionaries, as well as my Breton materials. Since I am not making any return trips during this vacation, I don’t have the luxury of leaving things behind as I go from place to place. Thus I will have to cart everything with me as I go from Switzerland to France and then as I hop from Breton village to village after my Breton language course ends.
I am having second thoughts about what to do and where to spend my second-last night in France. My original plan, which still could remain so, is to visit the Breton villages of Pouldreuzic, Plozévet and Penhors. This is the area of Brittany which was the home of Breton author Pêr-Jakez Helias. I am rethinking this because I don’t believe I will have enough time to see these three villages in merely one day. I will have to travel from Roscoff in the north, and traverse the entire Breton peninsula to these villages in the south. I might change my plans and go to Paris for two nights instead of one. Now I don’t think I can “do Paris” in two days however I will have a chance to see all the tourist traps in a more relaxed state. If I don’t get to Pouldreuzic, Plozévet and Penhors this trip, I shouldn’t be disappointed, as I reason I didn’t get to see all of Switzerland during my first trip in 2005 either. Each year of my Romansch course I have taken side trips to visit various Swiss cities, so it shouldn’t be any different during my visit to Brittany.
My only concern that could cause me stress is finding my way from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to the train station, where I will catch a train to Guingamp. Paris has several train stations and I have no idea which one has the trains that depart for Brittany. Guingamp is the nearest town with a train station to the village where my Breton course takes place, Plésidy.
I hate the unfamiliarity of being in a strange place and not knowing where to go. It makes no difference that I can speak French. I’ve got stories to tell about getting totally stressed out in New York City nine years ago as I dealt with bus drivers (who spoke English) as I made my way from LaGuardia to JFK airports. So Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport is going to make me loopy for a bit, until I get my bearings and find out what train station I have to head out to.
Familiarity builds confidence and I have no problem at all navigating the Swiss rail and bus systems. I quite enjoy it, booking tickets in three languages (Romansch, High German or French). Don’t ask me to speak or to understand a word of Swiss German; I still can’t make head nor tail of it. Yet once I can figure out this minor travel connection issue, I will be able to navigate Charles de Gaulle airport in the dark.