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The Plane, The Train, The Metro

by NearlyNormal Fri May 6th, 2011 at 05:14:30 PM EST

Well, that was an interesting vacation.  I enjoyed parts of it, and endured parts of it and was in a sort of daze for a good portion of it.  My wife Nita and I and my old traveling buddy Mike and his wife Nancy were headed back to Europe together for the first time in nearly a decade.

The plane was filled with sneezers and coughers and nowhere to run to.  But, after about 11 hours on board we were touched down at Schipol and off to find our bags and the appropriate train.  We found the bags easy enough and after one wrong way trip, we got back on track and made it out to Haarlem where we stayed right on the square.  Nice people and the place was okay.  We planned to try to beat the jet lag and stay active that day, probably a mistake.  By the time evening came we had been up nearly two days and by the next morning my wife and I had sore throats and plugged noses.  Things would get worse (and better).  The next day we walked around Haarlem for a while and took the train into Amsterdam and meandered around for the rest of the day.  Went to the Rijksmuseum a smoke shop and a canal ride.

By the next morning the flu had set in.  A smarter person would have settled back and got some rest and tried to beat it, but we didn't.  We walked all round again and generally did the touristo thing.  One interesting thing was to go through the church right on the Market Square.  The other thing-which I wish I'd felt better for, was the War Child gathering on the square.  That was cool, but I was beat.

Next morning Nita and I  were off for Paris on the train and Mike and Nancy went to pick up their rental car and head off to Belgium.  The train ride was good, but we were a bit stupid by then and when we arrived in Paris it was rush hour.  We got our Metro passes after waiting in a looonnnngggg line, and headed out.  Unfortunately, the transfer station we needed was closed and we had to work our way around that.  Should have been simple but it was not simple for me that day.  Eventually we got their, aided by the kindness of strangers and got our hotel room.  Not so good.  Out into the street looking for supper, way too early, but we knew we wouldn't last till later.  We found a really nice little Italian restaurant and had a fine meal and straggled back to the hotel and went to bed.

Not to sleep, because each time one of us would drift off to sleep the other would start coughing and we'd both be awake.  A dismal night.  Next day we headed out into town about 10 AM and made a run down along the Seine and walked the Tuleries and down across the bridge and then over to Notre Dame.  After a couple of hours we called it a day and headed back.

Next day we felt a little better and headed out into town, we went from Bois de Vincennes to La Defense where we had a lunch that was the worst food and the worst price gouge I've ever had in Europe.  It is a hell of a view though.  Back into the central part of the city and we decided to go to the Louvre and spent 4 or 5 hours there going through that amazing place.  After that we'd had enough and headed back to collapse at the hotel.

Next day we changed hotels and met back up with Mike and Nancy.  This hotel was even worse than the first one.  When I come back I'm going back to the Innova, near Pasteur Metro.  I loved that simple little place and have no idea why I didn't return.  Anyway, we went to Rodin's residence and across the street to Hotel des Invalides then did some more meandering.  Nita and I walked over to Musee d'Orsay and saw the temporary exhibition arrangement.  I love this period of painting and art.  But, we were out of gas again and headed back to the dismal little box we were staying in.

I was really missing my laptop, which I hadn't brought because I thought the hotels would have a computer for general usage, but I was so beat anyway and dazed that I don't think I'd have been any too coherent.

Next day we just knocked around, drinking coffee and looking at the sights.  We were getting ready to head out to Baden-Baden the next day so we scouted out our metro route and had a few beers at a local restaurant and hit the sack.  I was feeling bad, but my wife was feeling worse and it was an awful waste of a trip to Paris-I enjoyed it, I liked the food, I love the metro and its ease of operation, the people I met were great, but every couple of hours we'd just get exhausted and collapse.

I'll try to do the next part of the trip over the week-end.  I wish I'd gotten to meet people, but I wouldn't really have wanted to drag my infectuous self around.

Take care.

Condolences! A big expense and an excellent time of year all compromised by travel stress and health issues. A 36+ hour "day" from Riyadh to L.A. via Heathrow gave me what eventually turned into walking pneumonia when I was in my mid 40s. Totally trashed the Thanksgiving for which I was trying to get back to LA. I should have taken the offered two or three days in London to decompress after Saudi.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 6th, 2011 at 08:34:45 PM EST
I'll surrender the arrival day to jet-lag from here on out and not try to beat my way through it.  

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sat May 7th, 2011 at 01:40:27 AM EST
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Truly bad luck.
I usually do battle with jet lag by pushing hard to adopt the local schedule, soak up the max amount of sun, and---then collapse anyway.
Still, sounds like you had some fun.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sat May 7th, 2011 at 01:52:36 AM EST
Sorry to hear of your tribulations (of which I had some further knowledge by e-mail - stay tuned for Part Two, folks!). It would have been good to meet up, but Fate was unkind.

Hope things are better now!

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat May 7th, 2011 at 09:39:25 AM EST
In the words of the Gubernator, "I'll be back!!"  Could you get the exchange rate down just a little though.  Seriously, AFEW, I was really looking forward to a jaunt down your way and that is my top priority for the next trip.  I'm thinking of flying into Bordeaux to start with next time.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Mon May 9th, 2011 at 12:54:20 AM EST
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Looking forward to it.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon May 9th, 2011 at 10:42:53 AM EST
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Damn, but it happens a lot. I remember going to Granada to see a friend from the US only to be so ill on the day that I had to tell her to keep away from me in case she caught it. I went back to my hotel to await my death.

Having been bitten once by the queue at Gard du Nord, I buy my metro tickets before I arrive (from St Pancras station in London). Maybe they sell them at the train station for the international connection.

Failing that, Gare de L'Est is next door but without the queues.

Or learn french and carry the change so's you can understand the automatic ticket machine. but life's too short sometimes ;-))

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon May 9th, 2011 at 12:46:39 PM EST
I didn't even think of Gare de L'Est.  That is a great idea.  I kept a big handful of coins for the next trip.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Tue May 10th, 2011 at 06:56:45 PM EST
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