[Update : Pictures from day 3 have been added. Day 4 soon to come.]
So I’m falling behind already… There’s just too much to do in a day, and my body is still trying to adjust to going from 8 hours of sleep a night back down to 3 or 4. It’ll take a little time. Anyway, the pictures for the next few days should be up by the end of the day… but since I’ve got the journals just sitting here, I figured I’d quick add one for the next two days. We meet up with Jacqui and Maryrose, then tour parts of Paris again (the Louvre and head up the Eiffel Tower). The next day we meet up with Sara and Trish, then start train adventure towards Italy. Let me know if you notice parts that make no sense or where words are obviously wrong/mispelled/missing, so I can fix it up a bit. So yeah. Here is is:
Day 3 and 4
We are currently in the airport, waiting for Maryrose, who will arrive around 1pm. it’s about 11:00 am right now. Getting to this point was an adventure.
Woke at 7:30, and we were out the door around 8, if not slightly before. We walked to the North station (saw the McDonalds that eluded us last night), walked right in again (tickets are for suckers), and after a little while, found where our train was. Only it didn’t appear to have anyone on it… After a little while we heard the overhead announcer lady mention that the train to the airport was loading at an upstairs gate (32, I think). So we rushed out and ran up, and made it to that train instead. Apparently the train people are on strike or something, and it’s got some of us a bit nervous (as we’re pretty much stuck here without a train). Also, we’re supposed to take the eurail to Italy, an d if that doesn’t happen we’re in trouble. (I’ve heard rumors of hitchhiking, which sounds sketchy) Anyway, we finally made it to the airport, and it turns out that they hadn’t set a meeting point, she wasn’t sure which terminal, let alone gate, she was arriving at, and wasn’t exactly sure she’ remember what she looked like… Not kewl. So we took the first stop at the airport, and started walking. (remember, we’ve got all our shit strapped to our backs) After about 20 minutes in one terminal, we hop in a shuttle bus, and go to the second terminal.. we check that for 20 minutes, end up in the train station, still no sign of her. We grab another shuttle bus to the 3rd terminal (technically, terminal 2, we went 1-3-2), then looked around, took a shuttle bus to a different section of that same terminal (this terminal was huge, with different sections laid out all over the place, much of it not interconnected. We arrive at section A of terminal 2, I believe, and while walking Mindy shows the signs of seeing someone she knows, and there was much rejoicing. The 4 of us then headed to McDonalds in the airport. I am a big fan of the new POS systems, or kassensysteme as they say in Germany, at McDonalds. If you haven’t been since they have been installed in restaurants worldwide, they are like interactive menu’s and ordering touchscreens and they make the whole ordering process so much easier. I had le Big Mac.. and I took a picture of the menu, to prove stupid trivial pursuit wrong, and Pulp fiction right. the question in trivial Pursuit is “what is a Big Mac called in France” I answered “le Big Mac”. The answer on the card “Royale”. I reply “no, that’s a quarter pounder.” “That’s not what the card says.” “look, a big macs a big mac, but they call it ‘le Big mac’. A quarter pounder is a Royale, cause they don’t know what the f^(!< a Quarter pounder is, cause they're on the metric system." "It was the Moops."
After lunch, we decide to just stick around for Maryrose who arrives at 1:05, so we walk around for a while, then find out where she’s landing (an inspired idea, the whole “asking someone else who would actually know”, then hopped on another shuttle bus, and ended up here, at Terminal 1. Now we’re sitting in a small cafe like place, filled with smoke, and waiting. Mindy’s playing Wario warez Inc, Becky was writing in her journal, and is now staring off into space, and I’m writing here. Now I’m either going to nap, or play cards.
Okay, it’s Tuesday, and we’re on the train. Hopefully it’s the right train.. We’re headed to Lyon, then on to Italy. It’s been a busy day and a half since I last wrote (we’re moving now. I REALLY hope this is the right train. When I last wrote, we were waiting at the airport for Maryrose to show up. Well, she did show up,and there was much rejoicing. After getting some money, and finding out way to a train, the 5 of us (Mindy, Becky, Jacqui, Maryrose and myself) hopped on the metro (they charged us again, which sucked.. so we got all day passes) then headed to the Louvre. that place is huge. We spent some time at the fountain near one of the entrances whole Mindy and Maryrose looked for a place to put our bags, and to see what all we could see. there was a Leonardo di Vinci exhibit, and then the museum itself. We didn’t have time to see the museum itself (it was around 4, and it closed at 6, and we wanted to go up the Eiffel tower, and someone said it closed at 6 as well, so we figured we’ d check out the Leonardo exhibit So a few people got in line, and grabbed tickets, and then I got in line, and asked on more time “we’re going to the Leonardo, right?”. :Just ask for one, that’s what we did”. So that’s what i did too, and so of course our tickets were for the Louvre itself, which was kewl with me, cause there were some things I really wanted to see.
They didn’t charge us to store all of our bags in a bin near the ticket seller window, which was awesome. But they charge you EVERYWHERE to go to the bathroom. What a crazy country.
I’m currently riding through the French countryside, so there’s the possibility I’ll be adding some asides as we go.
The Louvre was amazing. it’s huge, and pretty much, everything in it seemed either very famous, or very important. Halls upon halls of Roman and Greek statues. Giant endless halls of paintings, some of them just HUGE. We were walking along a hall of statues that I found fascinating, and Mindy mentioned wanting to see the paintings, which was fine (We had looked up some information, and the Louvre was closing at 6, [it was prolly about 5 or so], but the Eiffel tower was open until at least 9:30 or so, so we were all set.) Anyway, we’re walking around, turn a corner, and there was a Venus de Milo,just sort of sitting there, with a sizable crowd around it. No glass case, no elaborate series of lasers. I was… surprised. You’d think with all that famous stuff just sitting there, they’d want to protect it a bit more. Maybe people aren’t as clumsy in France, but gees.. You’ve got statues by Michaelangelo just sitting there, waiting for me to crack an arm off or something. After that, we headed off to the paintings.
The paintings were incredible. there were just so many of them, and they were huge. We had to speed through most of them, as the place was closing soon, and I really wanted to see the Mona Lisa. We still got to see much of the section, then turned a corner, and there it was. Both Mindy and Becky remarked that it was much smaller than they expected, and I had the opposite reaction, simply because I had been told it was quite small They were expecting something like the size it is shown to be in Ever After, (maybe 3 feet by 2 feet) where I was expecting something more like 8 inches by 6) Actual size? something like 2 feet by 1 foot, i think.
After the Mona Lisa, we headed through a section of Michaelangelo’s drawings and sketches, and then headed back out through a number of more Roman / Mythology statues, and then had to leave. We got our bags, headed on out, and decided to get some dinner.
We stopped at a place called La Royale, and the waiter guy there was kinda funny, in that creepy “i don’t speak your language, so I’ll act like Mr. bean” kinda way. Almost all of the restaurants I’ve seen are the open air kin, where they have tables inside, that just kinda spill out to the outside. So we were just barely inside, and our waiter at one point snuck outside, and walked around behind us, to “scare” Mindy, who was sitting in the far corner. he also snuck up behind Jacqui, and started giving her a neck massage, [which earned a look of “oh my god, what does he think he’s doing? I’ll pretend it’s funny in the hopes he might stop.” from Jacqui. the other waiter/busboy guy continued to dance and sing (there were TV’s with MTV on them) whenever he was around us. They both spoke broken English, and they were actually pretty kewl guys.. kewl in that they didn’t make us feel like idiots, and they weren’t rude or purposefully mean to us ever, which I appreciated. They were still kinda creepy in that “if you spoke our language I’d probably kick your ass” kinda way.
We order fairly big meals. I had a steak, as did Maryrose, and it was EXCELLENT. (Mindy and Becky had pizza, and Jacqui had a big salad, featuring eggs that tasted, of all things, “too eggy”) we also all ordered beers (and our corrupting influence on Becky has begun.) 1 small for Becky, 3 mediums for the ladies, and a hella big one for me. It was about the size of a pitcher, and the stein it came in was rather heavy. It was wonderful. I got a good buzz going by the time we left. Mindy and Maryrose tried using a phone in the basement of the restaurant, and found that a hostel somewhere near the Eiffel tower still had room, but didn’t make any reservations. Then Maryrose and I headed of to a hotel to check some prices (they were *really* expensive.). After that, we hopped back on the metro and went to the Eiffel Tower. That thing is still really tall.
After all that beer, many of us needed to “make water”. And France charges for use of toilettes, cause their assholes. Finally, at the Eiffel tower, we went to information and asked if there were restrooms nearby, and there were (part of the tower park area), and they charged us 0.40 euros for that, and at that point it was worth it, cause I was going to explode.
with that over, we got in line for the Eiffel tower lift, and decided to go to the top (of course). Again I’ll mention that that thing is tall. We got into these large cable-car type elevators that they’ve got in each one of the legs, and headed up to the 2nd level, then got in a different life that brought us up to the top. There’s an enclosed area, then above it is an open air area. We spent a fair amount of time up there, enjoyed the sunset, then headed down. on the way down we saw the line that had formed where we had earlier walked right through, and it was probably about 45 minutes to an hour long at that point. Guess we hit it at just the right time.
Once we got down, I bought a little Eiffel tower for Cathy, and was instantly pounced upon by every other merchant in the area, dying to sell me crazy laser pointers… I did not want one, and they did not seem to understand. this is our stop.
We’re at an “Irish Pub” in Lyon. our train isn’t going to be running today, and probably not tomorrow. Stupid strike,and stupid France. We just finished our beers, and the girls are playing Flux. There’s a protest/demonstration going on in the street a few hundred feet from here. I don’t know what the strike is about, but I’m guessing it’s either about wanting money, or about being complete and utter assholes. I’m voting for both. Either way, here’s what happened recently, then I’ll go back to yesterday. We were indeed on the right train, and arrived in Lyons. after an hour we pieced together enough information from the people that spoke a bit of English to find out that none of the trains running out of the country are running because of the strike. So Mindy and Maryrose spent the next hour trying to figure out what we were going to do, and we finally decided that we’d take the train to Marselles. So we went back up, and there was one train there , and the sign said Montpellier. So that wasn’t it. the sign said the train to Marselles was running late (“retard”..that’s what it says when it’s late). So we waited.. then asked this guy if this was the train to Montpellier or Marselles, but he didn’t know. so the next time a train guy walked by, Jacqui went to him and asked “Marselles?” and he gave a hand signal like flicking his finger forward, as though he was casting a fishing line. We assumed that meant “after this train leaves”. we were not right. shortly thereafter, a train in front of the train we were at (which we didn’t realize was another train), left. yeah, that would be the train we wanted. I’ll reiterate that part about me not being in charge at all. I’m comfortably oblivious to all decisions.. But I still reserve the right to be upset when bad things happen example: there was a sign right behind Mindy was that had a electronic picture of all the trains currently in the station,and where they were headed. So it said that there was the train to Marselles sitting right there. that’s the kind of information that would have been useful to us BEFORE the train had left. Oh well. Then we sat idly by trying to decide if we should take the train sitting in front of us until it too, had left us. At that point I noted that there was a train that was headed to Marselles at 17:45, and we decided to take that. (it was currently 3:30ish [15:30]), SO we had some time. Hence the beer. And that brings us up to the present.
Okay, back to yesterday. after we left the Eiffel tower, and I was accosted by every black market seller in the place, we started searching for the hostel. A few Metro trains later, we didn’t find the hostel, and we weren’t even sure there was room for us anymore. As we were walking we caught site of a Comfort Hotel, and so we sent three in to get a room (yeah, there was a price for 3 people, but 5 people would’ve meant 2 rooms, and we couldn’t afford that… well, we didn’t want to afford it, i guess is more accurate. I was waiting outside, an then they motioned that we should come back in. they guy had let us all go into one room for the price of a 3 person room. Merci beaucoup. We headed up, all took showers, with each person instantly falling asleep as soon as they were done. I took the floor, and was last to shower… and ended up just crashing on the floor before I bothered to unroll my sleeping bag. the time was about 1:30, I thought.
Woke up this morning at 7.. only we quickly realized it was really 6 (and I really went to sleep around 12:30, then.) It was just as well, cause we actually left on time, skipped breakfast (too pricey.. that would be a trend.. not so much the skipping, but more the fact that they charge way too much for everything.) We trekked across Paris for a while, and got some more metro passes (well, RER passes), and made it to the airport. A few shuttle busses later, and we found Trish and Sara. With the full 7 of us assembled, we started on our way.