Edit: I never did post this. Not sure why. Perhaps too bitter? Fuck it. It’s going up.
We’re back home. yay.
Perhaps not the most interesting way to phrase it but there it is. Three weeks in Europe, bouncing around and seeing the sites, really makes you want to stay. Like seriously stay. I considered it for longer than I probably should have.
One negative aspect of living freely while traveling is seeing so many “possibilities”, and probably not valid possibilities at that. You look around at some location, the locals going about their daily business and think to yourself, “You know, I could do this. I could do this right here. I don’t have to go back.”
Of course, that’s bullshit. There’s so many things you’re not thinking about when romanticizing the possibility of sticking around in a foreign country: where are you going to sleep? How are you going to find work? What about health insurance while you’re in a country that’s not going to be happy if you fuck yourself up and need hospitalization? None of these things pop into mind when you’re gazing lovingly at that pretty bridge or amazing vista in the distance. No, you just want to experience those things day in, day out while you live there.
Sure, the idea is great but the reality really sucks; trust me, I lived it. For almost a year I lived in London and during the time I was trying to survive, I didn’t see a goddamned thing that could be called a tourist attraction. And that’s what happens most of the time; you’re so busy working and commuting that you don’t make time to do the sightseeing you thought you’d do.
We’ve been here for a few days and I had the opportunity to experience a few things and wanted to jot them down here. This is an itemized list of the activities that have occurred since our arrival on Thursday. By no means is this a complete list but it is still lengthy and may only be interesting to you if you read it in John Cleese’s voice. Just try it, you’ll see what I mean.
- Long ass plane ride to France; no sleep for the duration
- Arrive dumb, hot and tired
- Didn’t get the SIM card I wanted but did manage to get one that most tourists would use. Fitting, I guess.
- Had trouble getting tickets for RER train from CDG Airport to Paris proper. Eventually rectified.
- Thirty minute ride into the city quite enjoyable.
- Arrival at Gare du Nord for transfer to metro for rest of journey to hotel.
- Misread ticket entrance gate and needed to buy a carnet of tickets (book of 10) to get on the metro.
- Left baggage with travel partners and ventured to find a ticket dispenser with Sly.
- Eventually found machine and realized they don’t take bills. Goddamnit.
- Visited ticket counter with a human being and purchased tickets
- Returned back to the entrance gate and AGAIN misread response from gate. One wasted ticket and embarrassed Zaal. Used another ticket to finally make it through.
- 5 stations later we’re in our neighborhood.
- Walk 1/2 click to our hotel. 2 stars and looks like it.
- One room is ready, the other is not. Drop all bags in room. Dave an I head out to find a grocery or convenience store.
- 15 minutes in one direction we find a grocery store, buy some water and fruit. Back to hotel.
- It’s now hot in the room and we realize there is no AC. Two fucking stars indeed. Open windows and realize we’re in party central. During the World cup. With the matches mostly being played in late evening/early morning. Sleep is difficult in the heat and keeping the windows open is too noisy. My life just, you know, sucks.
- Wake up at 3 AM to Parisians celebrating football. Loudly.
- Up at 0830 for the included “continental” breakfast. Baguette, croissants, café au lait, yogurt. Not horrible.
- Out of the hotel by 9, we’re in the metro and headed to Concorde station for the first day of our walkabout. First encounter with a young street urchin asking if I spoke English.
- Wandered up the Champs Elyse checking out things that I probably couldn’t afford, like, ever.
- Arc de Triomphe. Cool. Gendarmes show up and send the urchins fleeing to the four winds. Been a while since I’ve seen people scatter so quickly in fear.
- Walk to the Eiffel Tour while attempting to find a public toilet. Eventually decided it might just be easier to get a picnic lunch and then use their facilities instead.
- Get to the Eiffel Tour and get a few more urchins and French Africans touting their “5 for a Euro” tower replicas. Can only imagine them being filled with lead and mercury for such amazing prices.
- Picnic lunch under the tower. Wonderful way to spend some time
- Wander through the park on the way to the Rodin Museum.
- Saw “The Thinker”. Art appreciation +5.
- Train back to our hotel. Sardine conditions with people pressed up against me from all directions. Wish I’d dieted more before I left.
- Discovered Flunch. Never knew that IKEA would lose it’s status in my mind as the top of the department store cafeteria category. When the people at IKEA finally get off their asses and start serving wine in glass decanters, I’ll consider changing that decision.
- Some nameless Parisian man: “Football! Football! Football! Football! Football!”. All. Fucking. Night.
- Middle of the night text conversation with my bro, Homer Sapient
- Another great breakfast. Loving Cafe au Lait. Need to be making this shit at home.
- Out the door and headed to the Sacre Coeur.
- Stopped at some coffee shop for an extra jolt via a very large cappuccino.
- Make it to the church on time. Wander up the 200+ steps. Had to shoo away several “friendship bracelet” hawkers. Reinforcement through volume is my chosen tactic. Embarrasses Sly but I have yet to need to do anything else to get them to make like a tree and fuck off.
- Took many pictures.
- Entered the church. Managed to stow my prejudices long enough to admire the stained glass and the main dome. Really beautiful. Even purchased a postcard from the gift shop. Hope funds won’t be used to relocate a priest accused of child abuse. Damnit, there’s that prejudice again.
- Back outside and the short walk to the hotel.
- It’s not time for lunch; it’s time for flunch!
- Nap. Sweet, sweet nap.
- Movie with my baby. “One Million Ways to Die in the West” is known in France as “Albert à l’Ouest”, which loosely translated means “Albert from the West”. I think.
- Another wander around and then back for some note taking
Tomorrow is the Louvre. Going to visit with Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Monday and Tuesday will be Disney Paris. Wednesday we leave for London.