I woke on my final day in Paris feeling a great deal better than this time yesterday! Fully recovered now but not really feeling like venturing too far as I would have to catch my train later in the evening and return to the hostel to pick up my backpack, kindly stored in the basement.
My replacement roommate arrived a little earlier then expected, when returning from my rather lame breakfast (a stale croissant and an orange juice – Yes they’d run out of coffee!), a pleasant enough Aussie girl was already sat on my bed awaiting my departure! Debbie and Sacha were both there for another couple of days so it was no problem to them but I did feel a little uneasy sorting the rest of my belongings out before leaving!
After saying my goodbyes, I opted to just kick around Montmartre for the day, deciding there was a good bit of it yet to see and I did want to go and have a look at the Moulin Rouge which was apparently pretty near by.
After a relaxing coffee (I’ve taken for asking for an “American coffee” in the vague hopes of getting something more than just an egg cup full!) in a nearby cafe, I headed out along the treacherous route of the red light district, down to the Moulin Rouge. Thinking that at this time in the morning I was unlikely to be harassed the same as last time I flung myself down towards Pigalle.
Now, in Soho, London, it seems that the place hides away its dark side during the day. This is definitely NOT the case here in Paris! The sex shops were all open and the “shows” seemed to be in full swing! And once again, I was harassed and chased (even keeping my head down and keeping walking) on several occasions on my trip to the great bohemian show house. I have to say I really wont be sorry to see the back of Paris despite not having seen several things that were on my “to do” list. I’m hoping Barcelona is a little more relaxed than here!
I eventually made it down to “The Temple of Music and Dance” that is the Moulin Rouge and still feeling a little creeped out by my walk here, managed to get some photos before scooting back from whence I came, this time opting for the other side of the road.
On my walk back, I passed an English bar and a few moments later, a moment of wonder struck me. Could it be possible, that here in Paris, they might, just might be showing the cricket? A slim chance surely and the debate raged in my head that only the off chance they WERE showing it, should I really be watching cricket with just hours left in this city?
The answer came back an emphatic “YES” when retracing my steps a few yards, and poking my head around the door I did indeed see a big screen showing the final day of the final test between Australia and England. How could I not take a seat?!
The bar was pretty deserted except for one English guy (and his newspaper!) who was killing time, enjoying the cricket, while his girlfriend was at work. I know that sounds bad but they were both students waiting till college starts again. I got chatting with this guy and ordered myself a small beer which pretty much did me for an hours watching.
Enjoying what I was doing, I decided that staying put wasn’t as bad an option as I may have seemed. I didn’t want to go far as I’d have to come back anyway and I couldn’t really do all that much as I wanted to give myself plenty of time to get to the train station later. I was enjoying myself and that alone was reason enough to stay. Add in the fact that Paris was kind of getting on my nerves and, hey presto, I was here for the long haul!
So stay I did, nursing just a coke for the entire afternoon! I ended up giving the barman a bit extra tip for putting up with me obviously only being there for the sport!
A triumphant day in English cricket but I had run out of time to see the presentation and had to make my way back to the hostel to pick up my backpack and continue on to Austerlitz station.
I was actually pretty early arriving at the station but I’d rather be here in plenty of time than have to kick about the station all night waiting for the next train tomorrow! When the platform number was announced and I’d found my way there, I couldn’t honestly believe the size of the train!! Now, back home, a large train will have maybe 10 carriages at most. This one had 50, with muggins here, in pretty much the last carriage! I felt like I’d walked to Barcelona by the time I reached my coach!
My first experience of a night train and damn are these couchettes small!!! 6 beds crammed into a space no bigger than store cupboard! There was barely enough room for everyone’s luggage we were just thankful there was one spare bed! Upon trying to sit up on my bed, I realized just how tiny this place was as my head banged on the bed above before my back was even vaguely past halfway straight! Sitting up in bed (the only space available to me!) was not, it seemed an option! The blow of having to live like a battery hen for the rest of the night was sweetened ever so slightly by the free water and somewhat strange sweet type thing that had been placed by each bed. Whist the water was consumed gratefully, the other packet remained, sensibly, untouched!
I was sharing this rather cosy couchette with 2 couples. Above me were a friendly American couple, recently married and backpacking Europe for a while before returning homes to life after Uni. Below were a particularly strange middle aged French couple whose grasp of the English language was limited to “hello”. Now, you may say, why were they so odd Dave? And you’d have good reason for asking. It seemed this couple didn’t put any value on sleep at all. Instead every half hour through pretty much all the night, one or the other would get up, attempt to open to the door (causing a loud ffffssshhhh noise in my earhole) and go out for a cigarette/ toilet break. If the door hadn’t made that noise every time it was opened it might not have been so bad but the constant fffssshhhhing was leaving my sleepless or at the very least, dozing for 30 minutes between ffffsssshhhhs. The other reason for calling them slightly odd was that to help aid their sleep they consumed a nice flask of coffee through the night. Now, in all reasonableness, I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say they were trying to stay awake (although why they went the extra yard and payed for a couchette is beyond me) but the addition of coffee smells to the ffffssshhhing wasn’t exactly the helping the rest of us!!!!!
The couple did eventually depart at Perpignon and the fact that I was awake to tell you that goes to show just how much sleeping I did! Around an hour and half later we had pulled into Port Bou and had we been in England, you might just have heard “all change please!”.