During the lockdown in France between March and May, I began a series of five articles about some of the most intense moments of my different trips, during which I had an amazing feeling of freedom. My goal with these articles was to share the great memories of these periods and briefly forget about the alarming reality of this pandemic while I was stuck at home. I published four articles so far; the lockdown has now been over since almost four months but the pandemic isn’t gone and I still would like to release the final article anyway. So here it is, with the story of the first days of my second long-term trip around the world, exactly three years ago in September 2017.
📷 For more pictures have a look at my gallery of photos of Gaspésie.
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30th of August 2017. Alone in my room at my parents’ house in Saint-Nazaire, France, I wrote a text trying to put words on the many different emotions that I was feeling. Here are some extracts:
Tomorrow at 1pm I’ll be at the airport of Nantes in France, boarding the plane that will take me to Quebec City, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I’ll say goodbye to my parents one more time for nine or ten months, after having left already for a year in Australia in 2016. It’s probably going to be hard and I guess there will be some tears… at least in my mother’s eyes. […]
I’m not going to see the nice little garden of my parents before a very long time, but instead I’ll stare at mountains, lakes, oceans, see amazing sunrises and sunsets, gaze at stars in the night sky. I will probably eat a lot of pasta and easy ready-made dishes in the next weeks, but I’ll also go to great restaurants and discover new flavours that I can’t even imagine now. I’ll trade my comfortable mattress for bunk beds and hostel rooms but I’ll meet so many new people everywhere I’ll go. […]
And that’s the main thing that makes me want to leave another time: I can’t wait to meet people again. Discovering places together, share travel experiences and going to party with people you just met, without knowing what’s going to happen and with the feeling that anything is possible, that’s almost like a drug for me. […] One of my friends told me once “great people make great memories”. He was right.
I’m ready for excitement. I’m ready for discovery. I’m ready to party. I’m ready to be happy. I’m simply ready for the magic to happen again, like it happened to me so often in the last 14 months.
My backpack is full now: it’s time to rest before a long journey tomorrow.
See you in Canada!
I recently published the entire text in an article called “Tomorrow Yesterday” (click on the image above to read it). At the end of this article, I compared my expectations to what actually happened to me in the following months. But what about what happened during the very first days of this trip?
I landed in Québec City in the evening of the 31st of August. It was my second visit to this city that I really loved a lot when I went there for the first time in the summer of 2015. I had two nights booked in a hostel close to the Old Town, and I wanted to make the most of it before beginning a road trip around the region of Gaspésie.
In the text that I quoted above, I wrote the following sentence talking about how much I liked to meet people while travelling: “I’m very excited to think that I might bump into a new true friend maybe just tomorrow night.” Well, it actually took me 48 hours. The hostel I booked was very quiet when I arrived and I didn’t speak to anyone that first night. I spent the next day walking around Quebec City by myself, pleased to realise that the memories from my previous trip two years before weren’t too blurred and that I still enjoyed the city a lot. When I went back to the hostel, I bumped into a group of three French people.
We met in the common room where they were planning their trip, and we quickly realised that we got along very well. They were a little younger than me; they came to Canada to study in Montreal for a semester, and they were enjoying the last few days before the start of the school year to explore the country. We spent the evening talking about our future plans and decided to go to the Montmorency Fall directly next to Québec City the next morning.
To be honest, I can’t really call these people “friends”; I never saw them again after these few hours at the Montmorency Fall and it took me a moment of thinking to remember their first names (Hugues, Mathilde and Valentin). But it doesn’t matter: we had a great time together, and it’s exactly what I like about the freedom of solo travelling, even if it only lasts for a day or two. I never met as many people as when I was backpacking the world on my own; most of them for a very short period, but some others truly became very close friends.
In the afternoon, I rented a car and left Québec City to begin my visit of Gaspésie, following the Route 132 along the St. Lawrence River. I already wrote it many times, including in the last article that I published two weeks ago, but road tripping has always been my favourite way of travelling, and I was very excited to begin this new adventure. The weather was perfect, I was listening to a compilation of the British rock band Kasabian starting with the track III Ray (The King) which is one of the most energetic songs I know, I was driving in a beautiful country… I had everything to be happy, and I was very happy indeed!
I’m not going to describe this road trip in details because I already did it before, but during the ten days it lasted, I found everything that I was looking for: gorgeous landscapes, amazing sunsets, beautiful roads, and more important, an unforgettable feeling of freedom, especially as I was exploring the huge Gaspésie National Park and its unspoiled nature. My second long-term trip around the world couldn’t have started better!
Don’t miss my other articles about these “moments of freedom”, including this one dedicated to the few days I spent in the East of Iceland.
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