Thursday, August 12, 2010

Paris and Rome- Days 9, 10, 11

NOTE: Though published Thursday, Day 15b of my trip, this was written on Sunday. The last few days have been devoid of free wifi. I am now in Florence with a much nicer hotel than the previous ones and as much wifi as i could ever want. So this post is late but I was still dedicated to writing it on time. Expect another soon including the recent days.

So it’s day 11. Or night to be more accurate. I’m sitting in my bed for the night in my hotel for the night in Rome, my location for the night. My first tour has begun and we head off around Italy from tomorrow. Currently, the TV is playing Police Academy, dubbed in Italian. Since i’ve never seen it in English, I don't know what I'm missing.

Day 9: Sleep ins, fevers and laundry.

Day 9 began late. That is to say, I began day 9 late and slightly hung-over after the bottle and a half of red wine consumed the night before. Eventually, I arose, too late for my free breakfast and headed for the Musee d’Orsay, Paris most popular and well known modern art museum- showcasing Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Monet, Manet (yes both, in case you weren’t confused enough) and Degas among others. It had virtually no line, was only 5.50€ for entry but due to renovations on one floor, all of the works (and subsequent crowds) were squashed into a smaller place. And, basically, let’s face it- there are a lot of stupid people in museums. People who stop in the doorway to rooms, taking up too much space for you to pass them; People who try to look really knowledgeable by standing back from a painting and furrowing their brow, in the process getting in my way; and of course, people who bring young kids. Kids don’t understand art, they get bored, hungry, tired- why take them? No one wants a screaming child next to them while they’re looking at Manet’s controversial ‘Olympia’- she’s a prostitute for god’s sake! But, stupid people aside, it was good to see Degas’ ballet dancer pastels, and Toulouse-Lautrec’s Moulin Rouge inspired works in real life. They even had a few super old photographic displays. I did however, get sick of all of the people.

When I left the museum I made the unwise decision of sitting in the sun to read for a while. Bad. Idea. Hangover + Mel = inability to regulate temperature + direct sunlight = mild fever/sunstroke symptoms. I had to leave and find shade before I threw up/passed out, the nearest I could think of being The Jardin Tuilleries, where conveniently, they sell granitas in every imaginable flavour. I got coke (or as the French say: cock-ah) as it’s one of my hangover fixes, and sat in the shade till I felt better.

Another highlight of the day was using a French Laundromat. So confusing... But I now have an array of clean underwear. I have realised, that with about a weeks worth or underwear, necessitating weekly washing, 2 weeks + worth of shirts just isn’t practical. I need to send some things home because my suitcase is now dangerously close to the weight limit. But more on that later. Laden with clean clothing and microwaveable macaroni and meatballs, I headed back home, and was in bed by 9. Pretty tame day, all in all.

Day 10: A rude awakening, a new line of defence and feeling like a true local

Ah my last day in Paris. Another day where I woke immeasurably tired and unable to get up at 8am. However, I was re-awoken at about 9am, by my mother, who assumed I’d be up and about by then. How very wrong she was... Needless to say, I was well and truly awake after that, and dragged myself out of bed. I decided to relax on my last day- wandered around the shops again, keeping purchases to a minimum. I did invest in what looks at a distance to be an engagement ring- a bit of an experiment I want to try; whether I can avoid having to even talk to men to reject them. My theory is if seen, the idea of commitment alone would scare most boys off. We’ll see how that unfolds. I also got lucky with a 10€ pair of wedges. They’re canvas, like sneakers, but they don’t look like sneakers since they’re all black. They’re quite comfy- I even changed into them post-purchase and wore them the rest of the day.

Now yesterday I wandered into McDonalds with the idea in mind to fulfil a personal goal- get a royale with cheese. Miraculously, this particular maccas didn’t have them! They only have a bacon royale, and since I don’t like bacon... I attempted to use one of those express order computer things. But it wouldn’t take my card. Bastard. And then when I finally got my cheeseburger, it was lacking in saucy goodness! Nothing worse than a sauce deficient burger. Full yet strangely unsatisfied, I went in search of my nearest metro, which happened to be Bastille, one I’ve never used. You know you’re getting to know the inner workings of the Paris metro when you can get home from anywhere, the simplest way possible. I made a point of learning the names of my surrounding metros, so if it requires 3 changes to get onto my line, 12, I look to see if line 2 is more directly accessible, since it has stops down the road from me. Reinforcing my feeling of familiarity with Paris, was a middle aged English couple, who stopped me on the street to ask if I knew how to get into the cemetery, which, as it were, I got to know on my first day in Montmartre/Paris/France/Europe, just over a week previously. It’s gone fast, really it has.

My last night in Paris was nothing spectacular- packing, cooking in the ill-equipped kitchen, doing cryptic crosswords in the lobby and going for a wander up to the Sacre Coeur with fellow Aussie, Jeremiah (was a bullfrooooggg!).

Day 11: Au Revoir Paris and Bongiorno Roma!

A morning I had to get up early, and get myself to the airport. Tired as all hell, I somehow got on the metro in the wrong direction, even though I’ve caught it so many times over the last week. I think I got disoriented by using the elevator instead of the stairs. No drama, just off and back again in the correct direction. Did of course, result in a few more stairs. Eventually, I got to the Orly bus without hassle, which is saying something because Paris signs are pretty vague. They point in the general direction of something, but the signs are so sporadic that you end up getting lost between them. When I finally found the airport, I got completely lost. Everything being in French, I had no idea where to go to check in. Eventally I worked out the desk number and that that was on a different level, and when I found the right place, I was confronted with the largest, un-moving line i’ve ever encountered in an airport. After a delay due to technical difficulties, I was conveniently ushered to the front since they needed to close check in for my flight by this point, where I embarrassingly gave the woman the wrong reference number- I misread my own handwriting!

Shamefaced, I headed to my gate, which of course wasn’t written on my boarding pass. Miraculously, Orly airport has these cute scanner things that remind me of price scanners in Big W, but they scan your boarding pass and TELL YOU YOUR GATE NUMBER! Incredible. I would have been wandering around lost for a while without discovering that. Of course, we boarded severely late and I think the flight was set back by about an hour. When I finally got to Rome, I had a long wait before the next bus to the town centre, which was about a 40min trip when it finally left. Of course, I sat behind one of those annoying couples who kiss every 3minutes or so. The really noisy types of peck kisses, with that irritating clicky/mwah sound? Gah I almost asked them to stop being coupley it was so annoying! It was relief indeed when we arrived at Termini train station, where I had a brief encounter with the Rome metro to get me to “the nearest metro station to my hotel” which isn’t walking distance and therefore can’t have been the nearest metro (or else Rome needs to fix their metro). After a 14€ cab ride, I arrived at the Hotel Regent, about 90min late, for the first group meeting with our tour manager.

So that brings me to where I am, now watching Star Wars episode 5, dubbed in Italian, next to my sleeping roommate who is surprise surprise also from Sydney and travelling alone- gee Contiki, I never guessed something like that would happen. Tomorrow we have the joy of a 6:15am wake up call to look forward to, before we set off for Sorento, via Pompeii. I have some serious suitcase reshuffling to do, and I’ll need to get to a post office ASAP because it’s fit to capacity at this point. Apparently theft is particularly bad in Italy, goodie! It’ll be tough adjusting to moving around every day and literally living out of my suitcase as opposed to in Paris where I had half of my stuff piled up in a corner. Also, one of the straps on my in flight bag broke today, so I’ll need to find a replacement before the other straps break as well- perhaps a bigger one, since I’ll be carrying my valuables around with me (apparently hotel rooms nor buses are secure places here)

Written on day 15: So I'll see you guys in a couple of days. I'm off to get ready for a decadent Tuscan feast followed by the biggest club in town- where apparently you only have to be 14 to get entry which could be interesting. A night for the ring methinks ahaha. Peace

-m xx

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