Salut! I’m Nicolas, a French teacher and a new recruit at Bristol Language School. As I’m very keen on discovering new cultures, I love to travel. But I had never left Europe – until I went to the U.S. a few weeks ago! Here is my report about this experience…
It was to be my first transatlantic flight, but I thought I would never arrive at the airport on time as the road to Gatwick was blocked by some trees that had blown down during the stormy night…not a good start! Fortunately, it was only the way to the North terminal that was blocked, and I was headed for the South terminal – phew! Had I forgotten anything? I had my ticket, my ESTA visa, my luggage, a packed lunch, my sunglasses, a few dollars… And we were off!
The flight was from 2pm (here) to 5pm (there), so basically we followed the sun and it seemed like the day would never end! When you arrive in Los Angeles, you are greeted by a massive American flag and a picture of Barack Obama (I didn’t dare take a photo in the airport – I didn’t want them to think I was a spy!), then you have to fill in a form for customs, and then you have to pass through SECURITY. I don’t know if anything like this exists in other countries, but there, the scanning gate is like a cross between Orwell’s Big Brother and a Star Trek teleport machine. And finally, you need to have all your fingerprints scanned, which doesn’t make you feel very at ease.
In total, it takes me almost 3 hours to reach my hostel, which is in Venice. This is no country for pedestrians!!! I am not surprised, but I thought it would be easy enough to find a bus stop, but there are no shops, no pedestrians (it’s 7pm), and no one knows where my hostel is… or even recognises the name of the street it’s on! Don’t panic! After a bit of trial and error, a man helps me find it, and I land in a comfy, although not very clean, place.
At last, I can have a proper local burger and fries! I have one with some other hostel guests. Some of them are from South America, others are from the East coast. I struggle to get used to their accent… I need to train my ear!
Written by Nicolas Salmon