Train to Paris

Trip Start Sep 01, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Hello again! Sorry it's taken so long!
Ok, so boarding the train was a humorous experience. One of my bunk mates was very grumpy. I guess cause he was on the older side and there were three 21 year olds and me bunking with him and he was incensed at our age or something. I really don't know or care. Actually I was supposed to be in the next berth, but I noticed a girl standing and looking a tad concerned so I asked her if all was ok, and she was a bit nervous about bunking with all men, so I noticed my berth had two women in it and I offered to swap. She was most appreciative and we settled in. The conductor didn't have issue with it either. The 'frat' guys went to the dining car. It was 11:30pm when we departed and me, having had my three martinis(made the correct way!) was in no mood to lie down so I went down there as well with my deck of playing cards in hopes of getting a game going. The three guys were sitting having a beer and I started to chat with them. They were on there way to visit a friend who had moved to Paris just three months before to be with his girlfriend. At any rate, I got them to actually play a game I talked about before called '**ithead'. they picked up on it very quickly and I only won one game. I bought a round of drinks as they were suprisingly cheap for the train. They were overwhelmed with gratitude and insisted on buying me breakfast. I kept saying it was unnecessary, but they would have none of it. Well a while later most of the other people had left. It was only us and a guy reading a book. We stop for a station and the lights go out. I thought it was just temporary, and yet they never came back on! So we continued to play by lighter and the guy kept reading with a mini flashlight. We also got some assistance from the full moon. So we played cards, drank and smoked for a while longer. Well, long enough for me to be sufficiently dizzy. They alll finally begged off to sleep as did the book reader. I was going to go with them but then I looked out the window and saw the most ethereal mountains I'd ever seen! I told them I'd be back in a few and sat there in darkness and silence appreciating the glorious towering mountains here and there accented by an illuminated cross on a ledge and the light of the full moon. It was magical! Then I stammered to bed.

We got into Paris around 9am. I woke around 8. When we pulled in I had no idea where we were in relation to the city center. I was a bit hung over, well, my mouth was cottony and my head was the size of a watermelon, but all in all I felt better than I had expected too.
The guys were still insisting on breakfast and we were to meet their friend as well. I didn't really want to at this point cause I was starting to feel linked to them and I wanted to be on my own, however it WAS nice to have people who knew where they were going. So we found a cafe and got lattes and croissants. True to the reputation of French bread and pastries, they were the best croissants I believe I've ever had. They insisted it was a tradition to have a smoke with breakfast(smoking is still allowed in alot of places in France) so we also smoked which almost made me throw up. Their friend came and they got all caught up. He was kind enough to give us all a subway ticket and we made our way into the city. We walked a couple blocks and then they made their goodbyes. I got their number cause I was going to a club that night and I had invited them cause they were alot of fun and I thought they would get along with my friend I was meeting.
Being in Paris gave me a certain unavoidable tendency to be romantic, or at least view everything romanticlly. I celebrated this feeling with another coffee and croissant. Then I felt up to the challenge of finding a place to stay. I went only a few blocks away to a place that was listed in my guidebook. Being anxious to get into the sightseeing I took a room that was too small and too expensive for the size. I told them I woul be there for two nights, but when I went to pay for the first night with a 100 Euro note she didn't have change so I said just apply it to the second night and I'll pay the balance later. No biggie, right? So I get some maps and head out for the iconic Eiffel. En route I travelled on those famous boulevards, De Rivoli, Champs, I walked along the banks of the Seine wishing Gigi was with me cause I think she would've been off the charts excited to be there. I got to the Louvre and took some external pics, but decided on going the next day. I wanted to see the architecture of Paris. I leisurely worked my way over to the tower. I sat in the park and just relaxed. It was definitely colder than in Italy, but I had enough warm clothes to tolerate it for a while. Then I went up.
The Eiffel Tower- Due to it's structure you have to take two separate elevators to get to the top. One to the lower observation deck, and another to the upper deck. They didn't plan it out all that well and it was the most confusing system of any monument I had been to. I was not alone in this as I saw many people going around in the same circle I was trying to figure out which of the four lines went up. I also did an informal poll and even the obnoxiously loud Irish guys agreed it was, in their words, '***ked up'. But we finally got to the top. Since one of the Irish guys berated me for wearing my sunglasses in the lift, when in his opinion I didn't need to, I didn't wear them the rest of the time I was there. What he didn't know was I wore them when I wanted to be able to ignore people and pretend I didn't hear things or when I wanted to zone out. I don't wear sunglasses alot for the protection as glasses just bother me. They never stay in place cause on my head there is no hair to grip and I must have an oily nose cause they always slip down my nose. And they interfere with me seeing things and color, which, as we all know I don't easily see anyway! It was a beautiful view and I couldn't get gigi out of my head! I got my bearings for everywhere else I wanted to go from up there and headed down which took just as long. Then I crossed the Seine over to the Arc De Triumphe. Yes I know I spelled that wrong, but I am not French and I don't speak French so if your insulted build a bridge (may I suggest over the Seine?) and get over it! Anyway, did you know you can climb up to the top of the Arc? Well I didn't. You take an under ground tunnel over to the middle because to cross the world's largest roundabout would be suicide. I could see a bunch of people on top, but I didn't want to go just to say I'd done it. That never was my style. Instead I had a smoke and travelled on. I had lunch in a restaurant with, I must admit, some pretty darn incredible French wine. And these fish pate things. I am sure I was still under the romantis spell that had been cast upon me. I was tired but kept wanting to walk. I walked slowly back to the hotel as it was getting late and I needed to get ready for the party. Back to the Louvre and home. Earlier in the day I realized I needed to get to London tomorrow cause I thought I may have a problem with my Australian Visa (explanation is coming) that I needed to settle by Wednesday(it was Saturday) so I went back to the hotel and informed the front desk lady. She told me I couldn't get my $40 back cause they have a 48 hour cancellation policy. I am like well what would you have done if I hadn't prepaid that $40? I told her it wasn't very fair or friendly. In my head I was thinking how typically french. Now I know I have been giving the impression that I was having a grand romantic time in Paris, and for the most part I was. MOST of the people I met were very nice, there were though enough cranky Parisians for me to think how much better Paris would be if only there weren't any French people there! But I have since revised my opinion cause the nice people definitely outweighed the not nice people. As I shall illustrate.
So deciding not to let this little snafu get me down, I did what any logic minded tourist in Paris would do...I went shopping. Ok, so I did need a pair of shoes for the club. I was wearing my jeans and white distressed cracked leather jacket with a muscle tee. I simply could NOT go in sneakers. besides, although it was a private party, I doubt they would've let me in with sneakers. So I got to a store and they had some incredible shoes that were becoming all the rage all over the world, and I should know cause I'd been there and done that! Only 40 Euros, I was good to go. I'll post a picture of my outfit.
So how do you get invited to a private party in Paris you may be asking yourself right about now. Well, when I was on an island on the Great Barrier Reef, I hung out with a group of girls and I got some of their info cause they wanted the pics I had taken and to keep in touch. One was from Paris and her brother was a DJ. Pretty cool, huh? So there you have it. I e-mailed her and we set it up. Luckily for me the club was only about ten blocks away. We were supposed to meet there at 11 and although I had a bit of trouble finding the place I finally did, albeit frozen to the bone! I get in and a wonderful host said they were expecting me! She led me downstairs, but to my great dissappointment I had to check my coat as they said it'll get too hot. The club was very small and cozy. Your quintessential avant garde Parisienne affaire. I was told my friend, Elina, was not there yet, but I was introduced to her cousin the DJ, Christophe, and his fiancee. Everyone kept talking to me and kept me entertained which was very nice cause they could've shoved me into a corner somewhere, especially since English was the second language. Christophe's fiancee was especially nice and I feel terrible that I can't remember her name!! Elina, tell her I said hi! And thanx! So Elina gets there with some foot thingy so she can't dance although the music was pretty good. The current DJ was mixing alot of fun 80's stuff. She and I catch up. Her cousin it turns out DJs only once in a while and was feeling not into doing it tonight, most likely cause so many of his friends were there and he didn't want to mess up so the other guy spun all night, but not without alot of ribbing from us to Christophe for not spinning. Well I must've been having a great time because before I knew it, it was 3:30am! I made my goodbyes and headed home cause I needed to get up and out the door by 9 at the latest to catch the train to London. It was a great night and alot of fun to see Elina. On my way home I was so hungry I got a simple baguette sandwich and of course that tasted great too even though I could've chipped a tooth on the baguette.
In the morning I pack up and head to the train station and the superfast train to London via the Chunnel which goes under the English Channel. On my way to the station I was consulting my map and a nive woman asked if I needed help. See? Parisians can be very nice! At the Duty Free shop in the station i picked up a bottle of Veuve Cliquot, which is a very good champagne, for $30! It is normally at least $50 in the states and in Australia it comes in at $70! Woo-hoo! It even came with an orange insulating jacket with a leather strap! Very good deal. So with only 10 minutes to spare I get on the train for the three hour trip to London! After sitting in my seat next to a kid playing a game boy I decide to head to the dining car. Since I had euros and they wouldn't do me much good in Britain where they are still using their own currency and I only had like 15 Euros left I decide to spend it. So I have a couple extra strong beers and a sandwich. About a half an hour or so from England I start talking to a woman about things. We get into a philosophical/ethical discussion involving the consequences of having the sister of a man carrying to term the baby of his and his deceased wife. I didn't think it warranted that much discussion but we managed to fill up the better part of an hour with it. She was a psychologist so I thought she should be able to decide for herself or perhaps I was just a sounding board for her. Just for clarity I thought it was alright cause she is the vessel, but the child is still clearly the man and his wife's product and the child should grow up knowing that and the fact that the aunt carried the child. I don't think the sister should be considered the 'mother' per se and I doubt that a woman in that specific situation who is willing to do it for her brother would feel that it was her child. I think that she has the added benefit of having a deeper bond with her niece/nephew. Of course I am not a woman and it would be a different situation for everyone so you can decide for yourself, that is merely my personal perspective on it. Can I get back on track? (no pun intended)
By the time we were done we were pulling into London Station so I had to go to my seat. I will continue the story in the next installment!
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