Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bonjour!

Yeah, so I've been in London.  Doing Londony things.  Mostly going to the theatre and buying stuff; also visiting restaurants I like.  Really only had two actual full days here, as there was a road trip to Sheffield yesterday (what? doesn't everyone go to Sheffield for theatre?) and a road trip to Paris today.

Yep -- Eurostar out at 7:30 this morning; Eurostar back at 9:15 tonight.

This was my firstest time in Paris, so here are a few impressions:

1.  The whole Eurostar thing?  Totally unimpressive.  For an overpriced high speed train, the fabric on the seats was shredding, the carpet was stained, the tray tables hadn't been cleaned, the cafe car was out of half the stuff on the menu, and the ladies' room in the Paris Eurostar waiting area was out of toilet paper.  Also -- I did mention it was overpriced.  One day, the price was $100 for a round trip ticket.  The next morning, when I sat down to book it, the price had gone up to $188.  I was really annoyed by this, but figured I'd missed some advance booking cut-off, so I booked it at $188 -- on the non-refundable, non-exchangeable, cheap-ass fare.  The next morning, the exact same trains were back to $100.  I wrote Eurostar about this and never received a reply.

2.  Some French people?  Actually as rude as advertised.  We (that would be me and my travelling companion, Kathy, and my friend Peggy and her family - who were conveniently in Paris at the time) went to a somewhat snooty restaurant for a snack.  The host who seated us -- and who was very kind and helpful with respect to Peggy's kid's stroller -- stepped backwards and stepped on my foot.  His comment to me was not an apology, but, "You have big feet."  Yeah, fuck you too.

3.  The chocolate was all kinds of good.  For our aforementioned snack, we went to Angelina's, a place recommended by various sources as the purveyors of the best hot chocolate in Paris.  Well sign me the hell up.  Very thick, rich, and yummy.  Sorta like drinking melted chocolate, although they give you a big ol' pile of whipped cream you can throw in to taste.  I devoured it.  Am extremely glad we went (jerky host aside) because it was definitely something that I couldn't have done any place else, and since I was in Paris so briefly, I'd really wanted to do something uniquely Parisian.  (Besides, y'know, taking pictures of myself in front of the Eiffel Tower.  Which I did, of course, but still.)

4.  You have to pay to pee.  I did not know this -- but the bathrooms in Gare du Nord (not the Eurostar ones with no supplies) and in a local restaurant (not Angelina's) charged for the privilege of urination.  So, y'know, bring small change.

5.  Gare du Nord, by the way, is a total zoo.  People everywhere, insufficient facilities (long bathroom lines, even longer ticket machine lines), and people (most probably) attempting to scam tourists (a woman asked if I spoke English, then put a sign in front of my face saying she was from Eastern Europe and needed money to send back home -- a quick google search says there are scammers like this at other tourist spots).  Peggy had the good sense to suggest we meet at Notre Dame instead, which was actually much more civilized.  We navigated the metro without too much difficulty (to their credit, it is well-marked), and when we arrived at the station for Notre Dame, I commented to Kathy that I had absolutely no idea what to do if there wasn't a big-ass Gothic Cathedral standing in front of us when we got to the top of the stairs.  Conveniently, there was.  (It was beautiful, too.  And free.  Although I feel really weird walking around a church and taking pictures while the faithful are in there saying Mass.  I mean, the steady stream of tourists has got to be a distraction, no?)

There will be a reasonable amount of photos.  Right now, though, I've got to finish up my packing and be ready to leave early tomorrow morning.  (I emailed a taxi company to arrange a pick up tomorrow, but since they haven't written back yet, there's a reasonable chance we'll have to haul our luggage out to the nearest taxi stand.  Which is do-able, but potentially ugly.)

2 comments:

supposedtobemysymphony said...

Oh, I love Paris. It was one of my favorite vacations ever. And Notre Dame was just beautiful. Did you climb to the top? It's an amazing view and you get to see the gargoyles up close.

Wil said...

While I am looking forward to the rest of your photos, I am far more interested in knowing if you made it home safely and are all right. It's been almost a week -- do we need to call ze gendarme?

Inquiring minds and all that jazz.