Wednesday, January 13, 1999

On to Oxford!

Paris, France
Since I've got so much time to kill, I'll try to remember what I learned this trip:
  1. While not everyone speaks your language, be nice to those that do. 
  2. Platform, direction, time, non-smoking 
  3. Pretend like you know what you're doing, especially if you do 
  4. McDonald's are best in the USA 
  5. The guys with the fully automatic machine guns are your friends (almost goes without saying) 
  6. Know what's to be seen on the way, position self accordingly 
  7. Sleep well...you never know how long until you rest again
So, on that note, I was kicked out of Gare du Nord around midnight (I was huddling there for about four hours...not too shabby). So I threw on some extra layers (slicker, polartec vest, long sleeve shirt, long sleeve t-shirt, and a short sleeve shirt, with khakis and sweats) and hit the town. I figure anyone who's out mugging in this cold deserves the pocket change I'm carrying.

So I finally got up to see Sacre Coeur-it was obviously closed. So I decided to hike on down to the Louvre. I saw the Opera and some other stuff. So I turned around at the Louvre around 2am. It was time to look for a bar, 1)to sit for a while and get warm 2)get something to warm me up. I ended up at Le Grand Cafe Capucines ordering a Campari Orange. It was ok, but it was served as a red liquor and orange juice. I had no clue if I was supposed to mix them or alternate between them. One thing I did know was that I was gonna try to milk that bad boy until 3am. So I whipped out my journal and started to write.

You should have seen all the odd, nearly mocking looks I got walking into this, um, Grand Cafe with my pack, slicker and sweats. Admit it, you'd laugh too. But I was tired, cold, and thirsty. So I used up the last Francs I had. Not a bad trade. Paris at night really isn't that bad as long as you stay near downtown. The area around the Sacre Coeur was sketchy, but that's why I high-tailed it down some well lit streets. Anyways, my dining companion is a backpack strewn with clothing. The restaurant is pretty cool. Like stained glass ceilings, mirrors, and marbled woods.

I feel kinda chumpy and out of place, but hello, it's 2:45 am and I'm walking around Paris alone. They're playing that song from Pulp Fiction "You never can tell"--you know, 'se la vie...truly loves the mademoiselle'. I can't believe I paid like 8-10 bucks for this drink...but I guess that's what I get. The light shades here are like unstained glass snails. It looks like I picked a good spot to kill some time. The chill is gone now. I hope that the train station opens around 5ish. That would be ideal. Odd, but I feel this is a somewhat fitting place to end my travels. I've got about 7 minutes left to soak it up. I just noticed a rather drunken man sit down at a nearby table. It's times like these that I wish I knew French...To hear him ramble. His intonations are pretty funny, as are his mannerisms. He's playing "not drunk". Oh wow...Blondie's "The tide is high" is playing in the background. This is my cue. I must leave at the end of this song. Oh yeah, people here are quite sloshed now.

On my way out, I got half a block away and noticed my wallet had fallen out of my jacket. Went back to the Grand Cafe; marched in and picked my wallet up off the floor. The maitre de had a "Why are you back here?" look and I flashed my wallet. "Oh", with that semi-surprised, semi-apethetic French accent. Walked back to Gare du Nord and arrived around 3:30 am. La dee da. Now I'm just waiting for the gates to open so I can sit down and get warm and go to sleep. My right foot has been hurting since the day before I left Boston. 4:30 am-Inside!!!

Two security guards and a dobermann. 0434 I was back inside the warm waiting room, two hours to go. At 5:46 they powered up the joint. Not much more time left. Got on the train, fell asleep. The sunrise is orange and white, there's snow on the ground. 0920, rolled into London. Some construction delays, and at 10:15 I'm in Victoria coach station waiting for the 10:30 X90 to Oxford. I think the mounted officers just passed us on their way to the changing of the guard. It's the stereotypical London-foggy, damp, and overcast.

Oxford, England
We (the bus) arrived in Oxford and I found out that they have buses running straight to Gatwick. That's what I'm talkin' about. But since they run every even hour, and my flight's at 11:15am, I was advised to catch the 6am X80 bus. Fair enough. I found Matt Coates' apartment, hopped the wet wooden fence, and still found myself locked out of all but the foyer. I dumped my stuff there around 12:30 and went in search of food and a bathroom. Fortunately, the apartment is above a mall of sorts, so that was short work. I got fish and chips at a place called Cagney's. I picked up a liter of OJ at the supermarket. It tasted kind of odd, actually too sweet and gave me a headache. After I just couldn't take it anymore, I looked at the bottle to see what it could ahve in it what is so bad. Turns out, I was supposed to dilute it by four parts. ughhhh.

Charley came by after 5:30 pm...five hours of lying in the cold. He lent me his bed as he's staying away tonight. I played playstation (Tekken version-1.0? weird) while I waited for Coates to return from crew practice. We cooked up a good size meal for him, a third roommate (Matt) and me. We ate and watched BAT 21/Patriot Games/Eddie Izzard on the telly as we drank a case of Fosters. I could only manage about .75 litres, but they did around two-three times that. Went to sleep around 12:30am.

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