A Travellerspoint blog

France

Ahhh, Paris

sunny 28 °C

Well, the last couple of days have definitely been an adventure! Beginning with Thursday, when I got into the lineu for the Musee d’Orsee and thought I was going to vomit, then I slowly made my way back to my hostel and slept/read the whole day away. I think I was just very run down, but it was not very fun.

Friday, feeling much better, I met up with Tierney and we went shopping down the streets of Paris. Not sure what district we were in or what streets we were shopping on, even though she told me, but it was good and fun and definitely therapeutic! Had tons of fun with her. Went back to her apartment to heat up some real food, then made my way back to the hostel to get ready for the pub crawl. I was supposed to meet up with these two guys, Nick and Brad, from Arizona, who were staying in my hostel and who Tierney had met in Greece. She told them what room I was in and they were supposed to come get me and then we would head off together. I was down in the computer room and these two guys were asking these girls about a pub crawl. So I flag them over and I’m like, “Hey guy’s I’m Kelsey. You’re Nick and Brad?” They were like, um, we could be..? Kind of looking at each other funny so we talked about the pub crawl and they totally weren’t Nick and Brad, but I had made some new friends! Kevin and Mike were from Calgary. Then we went outside while they all pre-drank and met some of there others roommates or whoever outside, Graham and Chris who were from Winnipeg. So it was fun getting to know some new Canadians, and we were literally getting up off the stairs to go to the metro when two guys pop out of the hostel and turn to me and are like, “Are you Kelsey?” I was like “Nick and Brad! Meet Kevin, Mike, Graham, and Chris.” So our big group made it to the hostel, and good thing I was there to navigate as these boys would have never made it on their own lol. But seriously. So we got to the pub crawl, met up with Tierney and hade a pretty good night out. Met up with a group of English guys, met a guy from Calgary who works for the National Bank of Canada, and some other people along the way as well. Was overall fun, I had a few more drinks than I would have liked, and definitely swore off alcohol this morning for about the hundredth time in my life. Seriously, it doesn’t like when I drink more than a couple a night. But that’s ok for me! Said bye to Tierney, making plans to shop Seattle sometime in the relevantly near future, and Nick, Brad and I found a metro to take us home… that wasn’t actually running past 1:30 AM. SWEET. We then tried getting a cab, most of which didn’t understand my alcohol-induced French, so I was like this is freaking great… The boys didn’t seem too worried but I was! I wanted to be in bed! I then saw two buses, and one said “Bibogney” on it, which is the direction of the metro line that I take back to the hostel, so I hopped on with two very skeptical guys, paid our fare, and assured them we’d get home soon, which we did! I was actually pretty proud of myself that I managed to get us home. Actually, the boys reminded me of the pact we made earlier, that they would take me home safely as long as I figured out how to get us there, which is exactly what happened. So thanks guys!

Today I got up, got ready, and headed for the Gare du Nord train station, hoping to hop on the 11:25 train to Brussels. I got there at quarter to 11, so I thought I had plenty of time. First off, I’m very lost in a station that has very little signs, and had information booths with no one at them. Right after I finally got some direction, I slipped and fell on some water on the floor and twisted my ankle and fell with my 40+ pound pack on, bringing me down much harder than I would have gone down without it on. I let out a little scream when this all happened, and the 5 or 6 people around me didn’t even flinch or look my way to see if I was alright or try and help me up. Really comforting, the French are! So I got up and could not help my emotions, but quickly sucked it up and found the line to the tickets where I had to make a reservation for the train. An English speaking girl ahead of me was told to go to a different line for international tickets, so I followed her and we sort of helped each other out from there. Not sure if she ever got where she was going, though. Anyways, once I finally got to the ticket counter and asked for a reservation she was like, Brussels, Today? I doubt it. So I get emotional again and I was like I have to get there my hostel is booked I didn’t know it was such an issue, and she finally found me a spot on the 5:00 train to Lille, France, then change to Brussels. It was 11:30, and I had all my gear, and it was boiling outside. So needless to say it’s been a long day of reading, avoiding gypsies (who pretty much pull your earphones out of your ears to talk to you and beg for money), and trying to stay awake in a very hot train station. Definitely a day I would have liked some company! But luckily there was a Subway just outside the station so I could eat, and looking back now I suppose it didn’t feel like 5 and a half hours of waiting.

Paris was good, but my experience definitely could have been better. I didn’t even get a postcard at the train station because I was so frustrated and fed up with mean French people that I almost didn’t want a souvenir! Oh well, on to Belgium, which I doubt will be better for the language, but hopefully not so busy and pushy and rude. There are some really fun people in my hostel so it should be good! Will be having an early night, but going to hang out with Mira all day tomorrow, she's an engineer from Canada and vegetarian and never heard of happycow.net so we have a LOT to talk about! :)

Posted by kvandervegan 12:54 Archived in France Tagged transportation Comments (4)

J'adore Paris, mais Paris Détestes Moi

sunny 27 °C

Ok, so the grammer isn't all there but I can make it by just fine reading signs and making things out in french, reading labels of food, etc. etc. Talking to people? I got nothing. I would just like to announce now how awful our french system is at home. I feel perfectly comfortable arranging sentances in my head, but to get the words out of my mouth is a whole other story. I'm even shy saying, "Combien?" or "Ou est le...." because I know I won't be able to understand the response. Luckily a lot of the tourist places address you in English anyways, so there I'm ok. But the food, oh man. All I could eat today on the walking tour out of Starbucks, McDonalds, and 3 different cafe's was l'ananas and deluxe potatoes (aka mojos) at McD's. I then ordered an iced soy latte, which came hot and I'm hoping soy. I heard them say "soja" a bunch, which is soy in french, so that reassured me. Man, this is gonna be a tough couple of weeks, and my stress level is through the roof. It's funny, I'm either completely relaxed or insanely stressed. Not doing my body any good, and I'm breaking out because the last 3 days were so stressful, it's that bad. Cool!! Anyways, onto a more interesting topic....
There was definitely some sex below my bunk at around 5 am this morning, where I was unbelievably glad to have my iPod and a bed actually built in the wall so I couldn't, um, feel anything. Gross! Ok so onto an even more interesting topic...
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Paris!! That was a pic from the Eurostar yesterday, which was an awesome journey because I had no one next to me, and had used my left over pounds to buy a couple of magazines for the road. Very relaxing! Anyways this morning I got up, miscalculated the time (not used to be 9 hours ahead instead of 8) and so missed out on a hour of window shopping the Champs-Élysées. I finally made it out of the hostel, picked up some delicious soy chocolate pudding and a banana for breakfast (the end of easy eating as I knew it) and took the metro to the Arc de Triomphe, where I then briskly walked down the famous shopping street of Champs-Élysées. I ended up going into 2 stores, and buying a cute, cheap top in one. The other stores I just looked through the window, like Louis Vuitton and Gucci and Christian Dior, etc. etc.. These guys have huge base stores here it's amazing!
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I then got to the meeting point for the walking tour right in time, quickly walking past the Louvre and the beautiful gardens around it, knowing I'd stop back there on the tour. The free New Paris tour was awesome, as usual; that's the 4th NewEurope tour I've done and have not yet been dissapointed! We saw all the major sights and learned a bunch about each one. Glad I made it in time!
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Met some cool people on the tour, but in the end I wandered straight off towards the Eiffel Tower. It was a beautiful day (actually, I got burnt where I didn't put sunscreen on this morning!! Never been so happy) and I wanted to head back to the hostel after all the walking, but I wanted some good pics of the tower, so I walked another half an hour down to it. Tried to mail my postcards home as well, but was so frustrated trying to talk to the French post office lady that when I couldn't find the mailbox outside, I gave up. Jules, another Aussie from my room, has been trying to convince me that it's all part of the adventure of it, but I absolutely hate the language barrier. Actually, this makes me want to run home for 6 months, take French, Dutch, German, Italian, and Spanish, and run back! I'm sure I'll survive like everyone else does when they do this, I just might lose some hair in the process. But getting to the Eiffel Tower was everything I've ever dreamed it would be and more. Got some good pictures and was overall really glad I made the trek.
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Took me over an hour to get home via metro, alternate bus route, then metro again, and on my way I found some AWESOME vegan canneloni and miso soup and tomatoes and was very excited to get a full, awsome meal in when I found out there's no kitchen or even microwave I could use at the hostel. Can I get an A.W.E.S.O.M.E. When she said there's the restaurant in the bar I explained that I have a very restricted diet and she was like "Ya... sorry..." I was like GREAT. LOVE LIFE.. So I ate the pasta cold and had the tomatoes and will lug the rest of the canned/packaged food around until I get a microwave! It all doesn't need a fridge so I guess I'm lucky? Whatever. Bitter is a more correct word at the moment. And I've got to get off of here because there's a creepy old French man sitting at the computer next to me humming who is actually driving me mental. InSANE.
Hope everyone's well back home, really missing everyone today!

Posted by kvandervegan 13:11 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Military Tattoo and Travelling to Paris

sunny 24 °C

Well. My trip from London to Edinburgh was the single most stressful thing of my life, but I’ll get there in a sec. I took my time getting out of Duncan’s flat in London. I packed slowly and got some lunch for the marathon train ride, and didn’t head out until almost noon. Finally got into Duncan’s office and he showed me amazing views of the city that HE hadn’t even seen yet. It’s in his building, but I get the feeling he doesn’t leave his office all that often. He will now though! Or he should, as I tried to tell him to be more of a tourist and less of a workaholic! Maybe I’ve inspired him, but nonetheless we got great views of the city for free (thanks, Shell!)
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After that I got the tube to London St. Pancras, and headed over to King’s Cross station to get the train up to Edinburgh. Well, I knew I should have reserved a seat, but I left it too long. I walked the entire, like, 15 car train looking for a seat and found none. I dropped my bag off in the train and kept searching, finally asking a worker if I could sit on the floor and he said no. Then I asked a different worker guy if I could reserve for the next train in an hour’s time, and he said reservations were minimum 4 hours in advance. So it’s 14:00, the train takes 4 and a half hours, and the tattoo was at 21:00. You do the math, it wasn’t going to work out! Sensing my panic, the guy told me to check coach G as that was the car without reservations, so I grabbed my bag off of like H or something and dropped it in the doorway of G and walked the car. Everyone’s empty seats were taken, and I finally found a table seat with a family of 3 and 1 seat open that they said was free. Hallelujah!! I wiped the sweat off my forehead and so did another Canadian girl who found a seat across the aisle from me. She and I sorted out where to fit our massive backpacks and sat down. She ended up being the dumbest Canadian I’ve ever met. I actually had to put my iPod on so I didn’t have to listen to her make a FOOL out of Canada. She was 20, obviously just got off the plane as she had no idea about anything about the UK. And I thought I wasn’t cultured, oh man. The Scottish guy across from her pretty much convinced her that everyone still rides horses around Scotland. She had the longest argument that a “pudding” is called Snack Pack, and is ONLY a sweet thing (the guys were talking about Yorkshire pudding, and she argued her point that they don’t exist in Canada, FRICK) and she continuously talked about Canadian weed and how as soon as she gets off the train she had to get her hands on some pot, or else she’d go crazy. Holy. Crap. The family I met was eyeballing her as well I think, and I was actually embarrassed for my country. Sorry Canada, but you do raise a few idiots here and there! Anyways the family I saw with was from Scotland and were very friendly people, with the most polite and mature little 11 year old ever! Was really nice to meet them, and I’m sure glad I got that seat and not one across from the idiot Canadian. She was very set with her arguments, and I don’t think we would have clicked too well..
Anyways I finally got into Edinburgh and promptly made a reservation for the train the next day. At 2 pound fifty it was money well spent! Didn’t end up needing it and the train today was empty when I got on it, but gave me full peace of mind so I could enjoy the tattoo. And man did I ever! It was unbelievable.
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So I get in my seat, squished between two older men, and cried. Then the MC did a sort of country count, like “Who here’s from… the USA!!!” and then there were yelling and waving of hands, and then, “And North of the border, who’s from CANADA!!!” And then I yelled and cried! And then the show basically started with a mass piping band and I pretty much bawled. For me, it’s been something I’ve built up since I started highland dancing like 12 years ago, so to actually be there just blew my mind! It was definitely a milestone in my trip and life. And it was awesome! Took tons of pictures, but mostly just took it all in. And near the end they sang Amazing Grace (cried) and the UK’s national anthem (didn’t so much cry) then they did this obviously national song, because you cross your arms and hold hands with the people next to you and wave them up and down. Really awkward position, but the whole stadium of people were doing it (bawled!!) The guy on my right was English, so he grabbed my hand and told me what to do, and literally reached over me and grabbed the non-English speaking Japanese man’s hand and put it in mine, and showed him what to do too. Really cool! Walked back to my hostel on cloud 9 J
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The trip from Edinburgh to Paris took be from 10:45 to 9:30, while losing an hour as France is ahead of Britain by 1 hour. So a long freaking day, in other words. They were talking on the Eurostar (the high speed train that goes under the English Channel into France, no Idea when I was underwater but it was really freaking fast!) about swine flu and if you've had a fever within the last 8 days to call this french number and tell them lol, quite funny, they're quite paranoid! I hadn't had dinner, so Matt, and Aussie from my room and I went downstairs to the bar and I ordered a veggie burger, no dairy, and salad. The menu said "Veggie burger with lettuce, tomato, and cucumber." So they made it with cheese and THEN the waitress told them about the dairy, so they made it again, and when she brought it out it looked like it still had cheese so I opened it up and there was a whole egg fried right on top of the whole burger, I couldn’t even attempt to take it off it was fried right in. CAN YOU SAY NASTY?? So I paid 10 euro for lettuce, as that’s all my salad came with, and the carnivore Aussie’s had all the veggies on his salad. AWESOME. I can’t wait to try and eat tomorrow. Maybe that’s why Parisians are all gorgeous and slim?!
Anyways off to bed and loads of sightseeing tomorrow!!

Posted by kvandervegan 15:34 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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