From Metz to Mansaf

From Lyon to Metz, we whizzed past l’opération escargot going down in the lane opposite the direction we were traveling; French truck drivers were stopping traffic, driving only a few kilometers per hour, doing their part to protest the government’s increase of the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62 (ohhh la, la).  Luckily, the road to Metz was clear, and in a little over 4.5 hours we were dropped off at the train station.

Again, Rick and I weren’t exactly sure where we would be able to stay that night; another guy named Julien had responded to our CS request, but could only meet up with us after 22:00, so we decided to camp out in the first place with free WiFi we could find: McDonalds.  After a couple hours of checking out CS possibilities and (as a backup plan, hostels in the area), Julien confirmed that we could surf at his place and our two remaining days in France were set.  We chilled with Julien at his extremely nice flat that night, exchanging travel stories and learning about his software job in Luxembourg.

After a wonderful night’s sleep on a very orange couch, Rick and I enjoyed the following day by frolicking (quite literally at times) around the quaint, picturesque streets of Metz.  We honestly hadn’t originally planned on going there, and weren’t expecting it to be as beautiful as it turned out to be!  For my photos, you may delight your eyes here.

We each had quiche lorraine for lunch and continued walking around the city until it was time to have yet another adventure in a French supermarket, searching for chicken andouille, okra, and other fun ingredients for dinner…this time, we had promised to make our CS host gumbo, another southern dish.  Julien really enjoyed what Rick cooked up (I’m simply the sous chef)!

Another good night’s sleep later and Rick and I were off again, but not before being good little CouchSurfers, making sure to leave Julien’s flat spotless in our wake.  We were lucky to find a 16 Euro covoiturage ride from Metz directly to Frankfurt, and left the French-speaking realm the moment we got into our German driver’s car.  It was sort of sad and comforting at the same time to not be speaking French anymore…at least now I’m confident in my conversational French abilities, both in person and on the telephone.  The whole two weeks definitely solidified the idea of Germany as “home”, since France is a very nice place, but not a place I’m completely comfortable in quite yet.

We spent the homestretch from Frankfurt to Gießen in the company of our final rideshare driver, Mahmoud, a Palestinian guy who has been living in Germany for more than ten years.  Rick and I thought we were going to be heading directly home, but after a few minutes of talking about our lives, Islam, and our travels, Mahmoud had invited us to dinner at his Jordanian friend’s apartment and we were off on another culinary adventure…

Apparently mansaf was on the menu for dinner that night, which is as delicious as it is easy to make!  I had had similar yogurt/rice-based dishes before, but never as wonderfully spiced as this.  Mahmoud and his friend (whose name I can’t seem to remember, apologies) showed us every courtesy and engaged us in hours of conversation.  Topics ranged from life in Germany from a foreigner’s standpoint (obviously resulting in very different experiences when you consider our various backgrounds), our perspectives on the “stoic German” stereotype and difficulty in integrating into German society, male-female familial/sexual relations in modern Islamic society, and how silly it is that English tea is called English tea when it is obviously not grown in England.

It was, I suppose, a fittingly interesting and spontaneous ending to an equally interesting and spontaneous trip.  Mahmoud drove us back to Rick’s apartment, we said our good-byes, and planned to invite the two of them for some American cooking in a few weeks.

I’m not really sure how to end this train of Frenchyblogpostings, but I hope they’ve been entertaining to read!  I guess I’ll just have to think of some other new trip to plan since I certainly don’t want my ratings to go down 😉

Thanks to all of our CouchSurfing hosts: Gabriel, Fred/Flore/Pomme, Eléonore/Julien, Erika & roommates, Clément, Cayce, and Julien, as well as to all of the drivers who safely transported us 2.700 kilometers (1,677 miles) and shared their life stories, jokes, food, travel tips, and good vibes with us.  The road trip wouldn’t have been as rich of an experience without you!

À la prochaine!