Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jan 27 2009

Leaving Paris

I must be the only person in Paris wearing red, I thought as we walked down to the metro through the crowd of people dressed in blacks and browns yesterday morning. Eventually I did spot another, but it was a bike courier in uniform.

We took the subway to the oldest square in Paris, where Victor Hugo lived and wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It is located, as is everything else in the city it seems, in a neighborhood of confusing streets lined with crème-colored five-story houses. The covered sidewalks downstairs of the buildings surrounding the square only lacked ten thousand scooters parked there to look like a scene from Taipei. That and rusty metal doors. I’ve also noticed that Parisians use the sidewalks for business too, but in a much more regulated manner than people in Taipei. Behind the buildings were little courtyards.

We walked around a bit in the rain. I was beginning to get the feeling that I didn’t need to see what was around the next corner because I already knew: more crème-colored buildings. We had some drinks at a restaurant, sitting out on the street watching people go by. When I asked for no ice in my cranberry juice, the waiter stared at me in disbelief. “It will be too warm!” he exclaimed.

“You’re fighting the culture,” Gordon warned. “Don’t fight the culture.”

Lunch was at a place near the Bastille area, another large roundabout named after a building destroyed in 1789. The food, some kind of bone-less fish, was good, and the waiter attentive but with just enough boredom and eye-rolling to make him believable.

We debated what to do next in the time remaining before our flight, wasting most of that time in the discussion. We ended up going back to the Eiffel Tower, dodging past the female beggars (“Do you speak English?”) to find another long line to go up to the top. I had to take a piss and assumed that there were restrooms in the metro, but alas no; I had to go out and borrow one at a nearby shop and come back. When I did, however, I found that my ticket no longer worked, so Ray activated the exit so I could slip in, narrowly avoiding getting caught in the doors, which knew something was up and tried to trap me. An alarm went off. “Here come the gendarmes,” Gordon said, and we rushed up the stairs to board the waiting train.

It was a mad rush back to the motel to get our luggage, and then back to the metro again, which by this time was packed with rush-hour commuters. We had to force our way onto a succession of trains to the airport, and when we eventually got there, of course the Security Show was still playing. The woman at the inspection area took a special interest in my camera. “Do you like it?” I asked. “Maybe I could set you up. What would it take to send you home in a brand-new camera?”

Needless to say, I was delayed. As I ran down the terminal, I head myself being paged. “I’m coming!” I yelled at the Voice, gaining me many suspicious looks. This time, I was last on the plane, a small Airbus that the pilot flew like a Taipei taxi. I got the impression he was trying to make up time, rushing right through turbulence instead of going around. We were being tossed around all the way up to the landing in Barcelona, where we got to disembark, presidential style, on a stairway down to the waiting bus that would take us to the terminal.

We’re staying at the Hotel Principal in La Rambla, which is supposed to be the most popular area of Barcelona, at least for thieves and pickpockets. The weather seems warmer, which is a welcome change, and the sky is blue outside of my hotel window. I have no idea what we’re going to do here; I know very little about this city.

posted by Poagao at 4:20 am  

1 Comment »

  1. Oops!

    Comment by Daniel — January 27, 2009 @ 10:10 am

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