We’ve reached the end of the journals, and the end of my Europe pictures. The first part was written on the train to Milan, and the rest was written at the airport in Paris, where I spent way, way, way too much time. This is just the long journey home, from Florence to Milan to Paris to Newark to Chicago to Grandville. I really don’t know if you all found these journals interesting or not… a few people have mentioned enjoying reading through them, and many more have noted that they are long. Either way, I think it’s kinda nice to have a record of what was really swimming around in my head while the events were happening. I’ve already been surprised by how much I’d forgotten. I’ll probably write something more later, but for now, I’ll just post the last of the journals, which is more me rambling on about things than anything else.
I’ve been reading Harry Potter for the last hour or two.. as this trip, and then the plane flight will be taking me about 2 days, I believe. It’s Friday afternoon. I hope to make it to Lyon today, then if there was an overnight train to Paris, that would rule, but I doubt it. I think I’ll sleep in the train station then, then hit Paris tomorrow, and probably get to the airport Saturday afternoon or evening. Then my flight leaves Paris Sunday morning, i believe. These are the kinds of things I probably should check before getting there..yup. 9:55 AM Sunday my flight leaves. hrm.. that’s a long time from now, and I’m out of money, and I haven’t eaten. that’s going to suck. Time for some Wario Warez.
So I made it to Milan no problem, at about 17:30 (everything is Military time here). I wondered around a bit, and saw no signs of a train to Lyon, which seemed unfortunate to me. Finally I went to the information center and waited in line about 45 minutes, and got this pleasant lady that spoke English to help me out at the desk. There was a direct line to Paris (which supposedly had no stops, and therefore would work fine with my Italy and France only pass (most other direct lines run through Switzerland I guess.) That was leaving at 21:55, so I had some time to kill. I wandered around until I found the one ATM, and it was, of course, out of order. Eventually I changed some cash over at a interchanger, and bought myself a small sandwich and a small lemon Fanta. It was wonderful…. and I realized just how hungry I really was.
I read Harry Potter, sitting in various spots throughout the station, until 21:30, then found the train…. it was a beds only train… Hrm. I asked the guy where the seats were, and he said “no seats.” I thought okay… I’ll sleep the trip then, and started to get in to second class… and he asked me if I had a reservation…. and of course I did not (the pleasant lady hadn’t said anything about that…) He said “This is problem” and I was not pleased.. “15 euro, reservation” Okay, that’s not too bad, but I was again euro-less, and so I asked if it took a long time to get one of those, and he said “No.. you pay after”, and I thought “slick.. I can pay using my card at the station when we get there then.”.. He gave me a bed assignment, and I hopped on.
I found my compartment, 6 beds stacked 3 on each side, and the narrow center was a man doing the evening prayer (Muslim)… so I waited outside (he took up the whole compartment), and occasionally shuffled around when people tried to pass. A French guy showed up, assigned to the same room, and he joined me in waiting. While we waited, 3 separate people from different compartments came over so that I could explain to them how to turn the lights on in the compartment (there was a small switch on the left hand side. “Switch” appears to be another international word, as is the international sign for “switch”: the flicking of the pointer finger in an upward direction.)
Eventually prayers were done,and i grabbed my bunk. By then we were also joined by an English speaking guy (grew up in England, going to college in Colorado, spoke with a typical American type accent.) He had been traveling since May, both overseas and at home. That I would not like.. But he’s got family out here (aunts in London) that he’s been staying with quite a bit, so that helps, I suppose. Anyway, we swapped stories for an hour or so.. We had been to a few of the same places… though I tended to end up at a museum, and he tended to end up plastered out of his mind… He also let me have a little of his water, which I think ought to be enough for him to be raised to Sainthood…. though It’s quite possible that water also made me quite ill toward the end of the trip.
Settled into my bunk.. it was uncomfortable,. but it’d do for the 10.5 hour trip. [it was a fast train, too] I slept a little bit.. but the lights were on pretty much the while time, and we stopped frequently, so it was hard to get in a rhythm. It has also proved kinda hard to find a position in a limited space (the tent, some of the hotel bunks, the train) to lay down where my wrist, my ankle, or my back doesn’t hurt quite a bit. I’m anxious for my own bed… very anxious.
the ticket taker dude showed up, and points at me at this Colorado guy and says “15 Euro, 15 Euro” Well, shit. I don’t have 15 Euros. I go scrambling, and find a 5, and some change.. so maybe 6 tops. I ask Colorado dude if he’s got any extra Euros (thinking I could trade dollars for Euros with him) The ticket taker guy looks at my hand, and sees the 6 Euros, and says “that is not going to be enough”. I show him a $20 (US) and say “this should be enough, will this work?”
he says to me “$20 is about 16 Euro.. I can’t make change.” I say that’s fine.. give him the cash, and we hand over our passports and tickets as well [“You will get these back when you arrive”] He then said “when we get to station, I will find out how much, and give you change.” I thought that was pretty kewl of him.
Early the next morning the ticket guy comes back and gives us back our passports, but no change.. I didn’t care. I just wanted to be off that train. I was feeling very sick at that point as well. I didn’t throw up though, as my body doesn’t do that anymore.. (and there was much rejoicing).. but I was very ready to be off that train.
We arrived in Paris this morning, only we didn’t arrive in the North Station, which is where I was expecting us to arrive, and where we spent some time at the beginning of our trip. So that confused me for a while. There also wasn’t a metro station within this Train station, which further confused me… Finally I left.
So I left the train station, and walked a bit until I found a map posted with different Metro and RER (tram? I dunno, they’re bigger subway trains kinda.. in between the metro and the fast-line trains) stops. There was a metro stop and a Tram station somewhat nearby, so I walked to that… and found the Metro station, but not the RER, which is what I wanted. An American looking kid saw me standing there, and walked up to me, and in a thick French accent asked:
You are needing directions?
“yeah.. I’m looking for the RER.”
ah.. you can take the metro here to Gare de Lyon, or you can walk there.. but is a long way.
“how far is that to walk?”
Okay, is not that far.. follow this street.
[he points at a road that breaks right a little ways ahead.]
it is on the right
“Thank you very much! Merci!”
…and I was off. That guy was just plain nice. The world needs more people like that. Walked for a while, and found the place. Tried all of my saved metro tickets in the hope that the one we never used (the first ones we bought, at the station at the airport), was among them. It may well have been, but it was from a different station or something cause it didn’t work. I tried sneaking in, but the magic door shut really hard every time I tried walking through the exit. The service window was out, but I found an electronic ticket dealie, and had enough (1.30 Euro, I think) to buy an RER ticket, and went on in. After a little time I found the RER D, which went to North station, and from there I could take the RER B to the airport. I was well ahead of schedule. Took the RER D, got off, and just across the way (like 10 feet away, tops) was the RER B to the airport. That was extremely nice, as finding the RER B in this station was a bit hellish during the strike (I think the strike is done).
Took the RER B to the airport, and the shuttle bus to Terminal 2A, and that’s where I remain.. for the next 22 hours or so. I’ve read quite a bit of Harry Potter.. and I managed to buy a hamburger for 0.75 Euro. Sleeping here tonight might prove a bit sketchy, but I’m not going anywhere. There are only 2 Continental Flights out of here. an early flight to Newark, then a noonish flight to Houston. I arrived after the Newark one had left.. So I can’t even get my ticket until tomorrow morning anyway. (The Continental desk turned into a Delta desk as soon as the Houston flight took off.) I’m camped out in the McDonalds right now, but prolly should leave soon, as it’s getting a bit busier. I’ve found a nice little spot near the former Continental desk where hopefully I can stay until tomorrow morning. I’m quite sick of reading, and getting really, really bored.
I will say this…staying in an airport for a day sucks. It is now 6:00pm and I just finished Harry Potter.
It is now 8 am Sunday morning. And there was much rejoicing. I ended up playing Wario Warez for a few hours, and changed my location every hour or two, trying to find a comfortable place to sleep. It’s an odd feeling, walking around a building trying to find a good place to sleep for the night. An odd, and uncomfortable feeling. Eventually I settled back in the row of chairs near the Continental desk, and tried to sleep on the chair. After an hour or two of that (about midnight or so), once all of my limbs had fallen asleep, I just gave up, and headed for the floor. I think I got to sleep around 2 or 3, and woke up at 5, then 6, then 7. At 7, some people were staring to approach the Continental desk (workers, converting it from an Air France desk back to the Continental Desk.) So I got up. Last night I had changed into jeans and a sweatshirt, and it’s a good thing, cause it’s freezing in here.
So I got in line, went through a security checkpoint, get pulled aside, and they asked me a lot of questions:
When did you last pack your bag?
“Late last night”
Where did you last pack your bag?
“By those chairs over there”
Where was your bag since then?
“under my head, mostly.”
yada yada yada
I got to the front of the line, and then got hauled away for a random bag check. [so that’s #2 in this line so far.] That didn’t take too long at all. Then I got to the desk, and a lovely French woman started asking me questions:
How did you like France?
“I loved it. France is beautiful.”
What did you do last night?
“I slept over there.”
Oh.. you missed out. There was music.
“I was just glad I found the airport”
Got my tickets (E-tickets.. nifty little things.) then headed to the security line. Went through, and they asked me to stay there.[#3] I could see the monitors, and they kept pointing at the bungee cords, and the pop can filled with sand. In the x-ray, it looks like a few metal hooks, and a dark canister of evil. So I waited 5-10 minutes or so, then an elderly woman walked over, looked at the monitor, pressed against the bag a bit, then said something to the other lady, who said to me “Mister, you are free to go”. Nifty. [the miniature Eiffel Tower inside the tent looked pretty funny in the x-ray too.]
Made it to my gate, and the entire area was completely empty. Then again, I was about 2 hours early. (my flight leaves at 9:55, boarding at 8:55, and it was about 7:30. It’s filled up a slight bit more now, but it’s only 8:15.
if I ever have the opportunity again, I will choose not to spend 22 hours in an airport.
It is now 8:30. I asked this lady if I could borrow her pen. She asked if I wanted just one… When I returned the pen, she asked me if I wanted to play with shells. [she had a small bag of sea shells in her hand]. That struck me as kinda weird…but in the funny sorta way.
While waiting for the plane to start loading, I got into a conversation with this elderly couple… (the one with the sea shells). Turns out they do a ton of traveling, and wanted to know where all I had been, my impressions of places, etc. A really nice couple.
I’m on the plane now, and they’re showing How to lose a guy in 10 days… I’ve seen it already, and so I tried watching National security instead, but my hatred for Martin Lawrence overwhelmed me after about 7 minutes. They’re serving food now.. and there was much rejoincing… as you might recall, I’m starving. We’re flying over Ireland now.. I want to go there sometime too.
After they started loading, I went through,and halfway down the tunnel dealie, they had a security station. Yup, you guessed it. [#4] Only this guy didn’t speak English either, so it really sucked. I had to unload the pack about halfway, until he was convinced that it was filled with really, really smelly clothes. then the top compartment had my camera, my PDA< gameboy, and keyboard. I had to open them all up, turn them on, etc. He seemed quite puzzled that I had a picture of the pilots on my camera. Then I had to take off my belt, my shoes... This was certainly a more thorough check. Eventually, I was cleared.. He told me I could get dressed [and he put the money on the nightstand...], and I was off.
Well, I watched the same two episodes of Good Morning Miami that I watched on the way out here (2 new episodes would; have been grand… shoulda bought that Video Archos player) after finishing How to Lose a guy in 10 Days. it looks like they’re cycling through the same shows again.. maybe I’ll try National Security again. These movies are all edited, and it makes them sound really really dumb.
Perhaps I hate Martin because he always plays such hateable characters…. Or perhaps it’s because he’s never funny, his movies almost always suck, and more often than not, the plot involves celebrating doing illegal or just plain stupid things with little to no repercussions (and are almost always rewarded for doing so) I hate those kinda movies. Like Money Train. That movie pissed me off. There was that one with Martin Lawrence and One of the Wilson brothers… where Martin pretended to be a cop… that one totally sucked too.
Movies done. I was not impressed. How many movies will have the plot of “white hating man who wants to be a cop/FBI/CIA but plays by his own rules breaks the law repeatedly, blows shit up, then solves a complicated crime (by killing everyone), and is rewarded by instantly being given a job as a cop/FBI/CIA guy.
there’s a baby in the row in front of me and to the left (the center row). She’s been screaming her head off for the better part of 4 hours now. Occasionally she stops to give all around her a feeling of security, then starts up again. The thing that caught my surprise was that her ears were pierced. This is a baby that has to be under a year old. She’s currently eating the tray table.
So the elderly couple asked me what parts of the trip really stood out, and I was forced to say that riding through the mountains of Northern Italy on Motorbikes, and being able to see across the mountains to all the small towns we had ridden through, and just to be able to see for miles around was completely amazing. I said that Florence was just gorgeous. I think of all the towns, Florence was my favorite to stay in. I twas just a beautiful town, with wonderful museums, and I felt safe, and unrushed there. Everywhere else felt hurried… Not just because we were running around trying to do as much as possible each day, but just the traffic, and the streets.. they seemed to be at an easier pace out in Florence.
i didn’t buy any gifts for anyone. I know when my dad used to go on trips, the big thing was to see what he brought us when he got back. It didn’t have to be anything big, it was just kewl to get something… Well, I suppose if I had kids, I’d have gotten something.. then again, if I had kids, I wouldn’t have gone on the trip.. so there’s a catch-22 for you. Plus I was poor this entire trip, so I tried not to spend too much. Oh, I did buy a miniature Eiffel tower for Cathy, as I had promised when last i spoke to her. She busted up her leg, and is stuck in bed for the next 6 weeks, and I had hoped to visit her before I left, but had zero time. So now that I’m back, I’ll have to see her soon, and see how she’s doing.
I’ve been listening to Disney classics on the little radio dealie here, and it’s reminding me of the many spring break trips I went on with my young People’s group.. The girls would always play Disney songs and Garth Brooks on the drive to and from.. It was on the first trip, to Louisiana, that I found out how much I liked R.E.M. as well. Beth and I listened to REM pretty much the entire trip home.
They give out a lot of food on this trip… That is excellent. We had a ton of cheese out in Italy… We seemed to order a plate of cheese quite a bit with a bottle of red wine. ( I was reminded of that because this sandwich I’m having has a ton of cheese on it, and it’s wonderful. )
I’m at the Newark airport now. the last hour or so of the flight went just fine.. nothing exciting. Made it through customs quite quickly (there wasn’t much of a line.) Got on the “air train” to terminal A, and I could see the New York Skyline.. I thought that was pretty kewl. Couldn’t get a good picture of it though. Made it through security without a problem. (they didn’t stop me a single time, as opposed to the 4 times in Paris.) Now I’ve got 2 hours to burn before my flight leaves, but I’m really happy just being back in the states. I just filled my water bottle with cold, drinkable water, and it costs me $0.00.. as opposed to the $4 it cost me in France. Stupid France.. charging for water and pissing. Seems like at least one of those two should be free.
Didn’t get lost in the airport this time either.. I was impressed with myself. Turns out if you follow the signs, and can read, you’re more or less all set…. I did have to backtrack once, though, as the “Air Train” sign pointed up, and had a picture of stairs.. so I went up the stairs… but you were supposed to go forward a while, then up some other stairs.
I’m wondering what, if anything, my roommates did to my room. I’m going to get to Chicago around 4:00 I think.. meaning I’d get to my grandma’s house about 4:45. meaning I wouldn’t get home until 8ish if I left more or less immediately, which we all know won’t happen. In which case, i should get some Aurelio’s pizza. Speaking of which, while we were driving, we started heading toward, and drove through Aurelia. I wanted to get a picture for Sven, but I missed it. Such is life.
Now my aunt specifically made us promise that we wouldn’t return with any tattoos or pink hair, and at the moment, my hair is looking a bit on the blood red side… I’m thinking that’s a significant enough difference for me to still be in the clear. I’m ready to have a nice, close shave, though. This beard just annoys me. I had the goat through much of College, but I tended to keep it fairly short, and well groomed. At this point, what I got isn’t really red anymore (a lot of that seemed to fade out after I went in the Sea on that island. That water felt good.), and I don’t have any desire to look any older than I already am, and it’s itchy, so it’s got to go.
So the things I’m looking forward to… this was a popular meal time conversation, especially for me and Becky.. speaking of which, I’m really, really glad Becky came along, as I finally got a good opportunity to hang out with her. I’ve always considered her kewl, but never really got to hang out with her when it wasn’t the whole big family. Mindy and I had spent a good amount of time together before the trip, so hanging out with her was kewl.. and I had never met Maryrose before, and she turned out to be very, very kewl as well. I hope I get a chance to hang out with her again. Perhaps a trip to Grand Canyon or something. the other girls; Jacqui, Sara, Trish, were all quite kewl as well, each in their own particular way, and I wish I had gotten a chance to spend more time with them.) Anyway, back to what I was saying before: the things I’m most looking forward to:
1.) My bed.
2.) My shower.
those two are just obvious.
I miss nice cold milk a lot. Becky and I agreed on that one strongly.
it was going to show up eventually, so I may as well add it. I don’t do well waiting 2 or 3 days and paying 2 or 3 bucks to quick check my mail, and try to catch up on work events.
5.) Fruit Juice.
I drink a ton of that stuff at work.. and I had had none until the orange juice on the plane, and it filled me with joy.
It’s been way, way too long since I heard some NIN, Pearl Jam, REM, or Live. Guster’s new album should be out soon, I think. Joy!
7. My guitar.
Hand in hand with music, I haven’t played my guitar in over two weeks now, and I miss it. it calms me when I’m stressed, and in the last 2 weeks there’s been a fair amount of stress.
8. My cell phone
I stopped checking for it…