2004-06-15 : J’arrive en France… c’est superb!
Well well, I'm now in France – my first ever non-English speaking country (no, Scotland doesn't count), and my first experience with one of these weirdo European keyboards I've heard so much about…
OK, so the rest of my Scottish trip first: I totally failed to make it into Glasgow the other day – I ended up helping Grahame fix his mailserver, and looking at some programming stuff. I wound up going in on Saturday, which was still pretty cool. There wasn't anything I particularly wanted to see, so I had a bit of a nose around some shops. I've got a few photos, which I'll upload on returning to London, including a statue of Robert Burns, the famous poet. I thought he wrote some excellent poems considering he had a bloody enormous seagull stuck on the top of his head.
We went to a Chinese restaurant in Milngavie that night (although it's pronounced “Mul-guy”), and that was fun – authentic Chinese cuisine set in a Scottish mill atmosphere. It was so weird to see Chinese people speaking English with broad Scottish accents… Never mind.
On Sunday we made our way across to Edinburgh and checked out their castle. Edinburgh was the most confusing place I'd ever been (until getting to Paris yesterday, but that comes later). We took a bunch of wrong turns, and completely lost sight of the castle, and went down a few one-way streets as well! Just as Grahame was about to really start swearing, we appeared next to the castle, and all was groovy again. Unfortunately I don't have much to say about the castle except that it was old, and it was funky. Maybe the vapours of my memory will coalesce better when I'm using a keyboard I don't need to think too hard about.
So, on to Paris !! Initially I was hoping that it would really be like it was in Allo Allo, where everyone speaks English, it's just the accent that's different. Alas, no. After landing at Beauvais airport and then catching a bus for 77km to get to Paris for only 10, I decided that Ryanair flights maybe aren't as economical as they sound… Upon arriving I bought a street map (which is even laminated, so I could give directions in the shower if need be!!) and started walking towards the hotel where I was going to neet Jon and Tim. After studying the map, setting off, getting lost, reacquiring my position, setting off again, getting lost again, etc. I decided “bugger it, I'll get a cab”. Hereupon transpired my first French conversation. I suspect that Mrs Moody (my highschool French teacher) would have been mortified, but I managed to bang out enough comprehensible language to get where I wanted to!!
I eventually caught up with Tim, Jon and Tim's girlfriend whose name I can't remember (incidentally, this is Jon and Ben's borther Tim, not MY brother Tim, whose arse readers of my site would most likely be now familiar with), and we went for a bit of a wander around Paris, grabbed some Italian food, and wandered around a bit more. Gripping story, I realise, but we were all completely knackered – Jon from the flight and me from being up late drinking with Grahame and Julie !!
Today we swapped hotels back to the one we were MEANT to be at (long story), had breakfast, and then Jon and I split up with the other two and have gone a-wanderin. We went to the National Library to see if they had any Internet Terminals (they may have, but we couldn't find any), we bought some postcards, went to the Post Office (Bureau de Poste) and got stamps for sending to Australia (again, apologies Madame Moody), then wandered past the Louvre & Champs Elysees, over a bridge and in search of lunch, figured out where Montparnasse Cemetary is, and then elected to come check our email. This is where I now am, and it is where I've had my first enounter with these stupid keyboards!
Next stop is Montparnasse, then whatever's nearby, then some dinner, then when it starts getting darker well trundle back to the Louvre and get some wicked nighttime photos, and finally back to our hotel which I've got to say is pretty damn stylish! Maybe my opinion's a tad skewed because I've been bunking on couches and floors for the past month and a half (although I have to say once again – a huge thankyou to all the people whose couches and floors have been donated for my sleeping purposes!!).
If anyone's interested, Jon also has a web journal that he's just started, which can be found here: Jon's Journal.
Ok got to go – time at this netcafe is about to run out…