The Natatorium

An emporium of oddities from around the world, complete with somewhat informative plaques that almost never match the item they are meant to be describing.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Little Bit CDG, a Little Bit NYC, and a Dash of SGF

Since I'm wide awake and it's been ages since I wrote anything, I thought I'd catch up a bit. I should have some new travels to tell in a couple of weeks, so I ought to keep this thing current I suppose.

After the amazingness of Venice, Mom and I flew to Paris. We met a really nice Croatian girl named Darja on the bus to the airport and talked to her through the whole journey. Since we weren't actually arriving in central Paris until about midnight, those relying on the metro were going to have to cut it a little close. I had booked a hotel for Mom and I within walking distance of the bus drop-off (Porte Maillot--not my favorite quartier) because I knew it would be a monumental headache to take the metro/catch a cab at that hour. Many of our fellow travelers were going to have a few difficulties when they got there, so I used my little black Paris book to show them where to go from the bus drop-off and what metro lines to take. Poor Darja was moving to Paris for a month and so had a ton of luggage. I knew she was going to have a time, so I gave her one of my spare metro tickets and helped her get to the station before the lines shut down. She was a really nice girl and a very interesting artist. There was also a Canadian couple who were flying home out of Paris the following morning, and since they knew they'd be arriving so late they had decided not to book a hotel at all, but instead wander around Paris for five hours or so until it was time to go to the airport. Not a bad idea, if I do say so, but I advised them to stay very central.... maybe I'm just overly squeamish but I really wouldn't wand to hang around Gare du Nord at 3:00 am.

After making sure our companions were on the right path, I rotated my little maps several times and finally figured out which direction Mom and I should be walking. We found the hotel without much trouble, but unfortunately we wouldn't be staying there. The manager explained to me that an entire floor had lost electrical power, so he was transferring us to a different hotel down the street. That was fine with me as long as I could get a room at the same rate. When we got to the *other* hotel, the manager there honored our promised rate but acted like it was an unbelievably low price. I was skeptical that his hotel was in fact that awesome, and indeed I was less than impressed with the room. After some of the places I've stayed in, I'm not complaining, I just didn't think it was that fantastic for what we paid for it.

We just spent the night, and the next day it was off to Berck to pack up my life there. We stayed for a couple of days, then went back to Paris, now laden with my giant bags. Our new hotel was much nicer and Mom and I enjoyed a delightful little meal on the sidewalk at La Masion Rose (The Pink House) in Montmartre. Daniel and I had walked past it a few times while we were in Paris, and I thought it would be a charming place to take Mom, after showing her the view from Sacré Cœur. We went to Musée D'Orsay the next day (which I had put off for a loooong time) before catching the Eurostar to London that evening. We stayed the night in London, across from Victoria station (ick) so we could catch our trains early the next morning. Unfortunately, Mom and I had to be on different flights and even out of different airports, so I took the Gatwick Express and she was off the Heathrow.

We met up again in New York and took a cab to Zip 112 Hostel in Brooklyn, where I stayed the last time. Mom liked the place too, and we had some really nice goth-y German girls as our roommates. They were out late every night partying, and I felt a little guilty that I wasn't doing the same (considering we were in NEW YORK), but the stress of travel and carrying 150 pounds of luggage had finally worn me down, and I was not good for much while we were in New York. Please don't hate me, but I really don't like New York that much. It's big and loud and impressive, but in my opinion it lacks charm. I'm sure I just need someone to properly show me the place, because both times I've been there it has seemed sort of hard to break in to. Maybe it's like the clearance sale of cities; you have to dig to find the good stuff, but in the end it's worth the trouble? Maybe. On that trip, though, I was not in the mood to take the trouble. I was tired and ready to go home. I was thrilled to be back in my home country, though, and I almost lost it when we came across a Quizzno's on Broadway. Sadly I did not see a single Taco Bell in NYC, but we found a really great Mexican restaurant near our hostel and ate there two nights in a row. I had been starved for Mexican food after a year in France; they *think* they have Mexican food in Paris but THEY DON'T.

When I finally got home everything had a rosy glow to it for a while, and to an extent it still does. The abundant food is something I won't soon take for granted again, and the easier lifestyle in general is pretty sweet. I've been a House Elf/Indentured Servant all summer, and in a couple of weeks I'll start work as a substitute teacher. My goal now is just to save up money for the Next Big Thing, which is likely to be either Japan or Grad School. We'll see.

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