Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Nick's European Tour -- Escape from Paris

Nick called me this afternoon on his cell phone, roaming in Paris. We spent an hour chatting. Gulp. I will almost certainly pee down my leg when I get my next Roger's bill ...

Anyway ... he is stuck at the train station on his way to Nice. He had to cancel Marseilles as they are all booked up ... literally no hostel rooms to be found. Wow ... does everyone go to France in the summer? Well, of course.

He met a couple of Australians, a couple of Canadian brothers who did not grow up together (?!), and a couple of American girls and they all hung out the last few days, so he has had a great time. They camped out last night near the Eiffel Tower and watched as it lit up. Every hour it goes all twinkly, he says it is spectacular. (Note: I understand that Paris has the copyright on images of the lights, so you cannot sell what you shoot at night ... daytime is fine.)

His Australian friends got mugged on the way home walking through the park the other night, and Nick says that, other than Amsterdam, Paris is the sketchiest city he has stayed in. He always feels like he is on the verge of getting mugged. Too many crooks trying to grab your stuff. I guess I'm too used to London at night in the business and tourist areas ... I never felt at risk in 5 trips.

Anyway ... today he arrived at the station at 10am for an 11:45 train and the lady at the desk laughed at him when he asked for a ticket to Nice. (He had some choice words to describe her attitude, but let's leave the plumbing discussion for another time.) She said "no trains today", but when he pressed her she actually looked at her console and said that he could take the 7pm train.

So he has killed the whole day there without eating (too expensive) ... four hours spent skateboarding a ledge outside, several hours reading (he finished another Kerouac and bought a Hemmingway) ... and even tried to use a washroom. He paid 50 cents (half Euro I presume) to get into one of the washrooms, waited literally half an hour in front of 6 stalls and no one would come out, even after pounding on the door. So he was eventually forced to pay again at another washroom and was able to use one of the stalls in there. Strange ....

He did his laundry in Paris. What forced him into that was the fact that every t-shirt in his bag smelled horrid ... he had none he could stand to wear :-) ... so he spent 10 euro to get everything nice and clean. I said that he could probably make Leeds now with that done .... he says he can make Canada on 3 Sep :-)

So tonight around midnight he is in Nice, he'll likely spend the day at the beach tomorrow reading and recovering from Paris and then the next day he has the 11 hour ride to Barcy ... where he will visit all the famous skating spots. Barcelona is to skateboarders as Mecca is to Muslims (with apologies to my Muslim friends for that analogy.)

Four days after that leaves for Leeds and enters the last phase of his year. Wow ...

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