The Brooklyn of Lille

rachel-king-lille-fivesAfter having a very busy, stressful week, I needed to surround myself around friends and take a break from worrying about paperwork. So on Friday, I headed out of Montreuil back to Lille for the weekend. I even had a very special visitor, as Sharon visited me on her first stop during her French backpacking trip. When we first sat down for coffee, I spilled everything that happened in the past week and spoke a mile per minute as it was the most English I had spoken in five days. After heading back to Rachel and Pat's apartment in Fives (pronounced "feeves", which is pretty much the Brooklyn/Hackney of Lille, Sharon and I didn't have much to do as neither of the roommates were at home. But I had their keys since I was staying there for the weekend, so it was no problem getting in (except the 15 minutes I spent at the door trying to figure out the key). But without a TV or internet in the apartment nor a working toilet (it was fixed the following morning), it didn't help we were extremely tired. After about an hour of staring at the wall and listening to Disney tunes blaring on my iPhone, we walked up the street to the first bar or café we could find to use a bathroom. I don't think we were prepared for the place we walked into. Or perhaps they weren't prepared for us. The windows were open, the lights were on and there were people inside, so I made the assumption the bar was open. When I pushed the glass door open, the world stopped. The darts stopped flying, the old people stopped drinking and everyone in the room turned to look at us. It was as if I swung a saloon door open, and it was very obvious we were the new kids in town. I was also immediately surprised by the smell of cigarette smoke clouding the room, since its illegal to smoke indoors now in France. I asked (in French) if the place was open, and the big buff man said yes. Everything resumed as normal, so I walked over to the barman, ordered a coffee and sat down while Sharon went off to the restroom. After I finished my drink (quickly), I followed suit, and we bid them all adieu.

But after another hour of waiting back at the apartment, we were both exhausted, but hungry. There's not much open in Fives after 9 PM, as most people still out at that hour are probably in Centre Ville or near Rue Solferino. But we stumbled upon an open kebab place, where I ordered fries and Sharon got a vegetable sandwich. I would have gotten a kebab, but I was saving it for my 2 AM meal the following night (which I never ended up getting). While we were eating, a local French guy started talking to us, asking us about where we were from, why I was in France, etc. While I love the fact that I'm getting better at French with each conversation, after awhile, I was just too tired to talk in another language. And Sharon was tired from the fact that she had just arrived after a seven-hour flight from New York with only four hours of sleep, being that she had arrived in Paris about 12 hours prior at this point. We managed to squirm away politely after about a 30-minute conversation, and both went home to get a good night's sleep.