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A Couple More Days in Paris

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

We spent a couple more days in Paris after my last update. We took the time to visit Versailles and the Musee d’Orsay. Versailles, naturally was overpriced and packed, but I enjoyed the Musee d’Orsay, though Kathy seemed less interested in it.

Quite aside from the sites that we went to see in Paris, it was the experience of staying there that was interesting. Staying at Andrea’s apartment was a very different experience from staying in a hotel, as I’d done on previous trips to the city. It was quite a cramped apartment, and the kitchen consisted only of a 2-burner hot plate and a bar-sized fridge, equipped with a few utensils, and for cooking in, a kettle, one pot, and one small frying pan. Obviously with those tools, the cooking potential is limited, and I get the impression that Andrea eats out most of the time, but we did make a couple of attempts – a stir fry one night, fried chicken another, and fried beef on another night. It was fun to go out and get groceries…Paris is jam-packed, the second densest capital in the world, after Tokyo, and there were several food stores within a few blocks, but none completely stocked the way we’re used to in Canada. So we would take a trip to the baker, the butcher, the produce stand, and the ingredients all seem to be much higher quality (and admittedly more expensive) than what we could buy at Safeway.

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The Day of the Living Dead

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

Our flights to London were long and relatively uneventful. Our seats wouldn’t recline properly and we found it almost impossible to sleep on the transatlantic leg, so by the time we got to London, we were already feeling kind of tired and irritable…and that was only 11:30pm Edmonton time.

Not ones to let that stop us, we did head into the city all the same to try to see some of the sites. Wait, not quite yet. First we had the drama of storing our bags. Our onward flight to Malta left from Terminal 4 and our flight from Toronto had arrived in Terminal 3. So you’d think, no problem, we’ll just store our bags in Terminal 4 so we don’t have so much mucking about to do later in the day. Two hours later, we were on the tube to the city centre.

I don’t know as anything we did in the city really qualifies as being of much interest. We stopped by Geoff’s hostel – a friend of Kathy’s who is staying in London for the next year or so after arriving on the same flight as us – to drop off his bags and then tour the city. We did get to see parliament and Big Ben, and then tried to walk from there to London Bridge. We didn’t quite make it that far, and ended up abondoning our quest in favour of getting lunch at an English pub. We didn’t do too badly in finding a pub, and ended up with excellent fish and chips at a not completely outrageous price at a place that looked quite fancy and upscale in Southwark. (I cannot remember the name, it had the words old and arms in it, but I can’t remember what was in the middle)

Over lunch, though, we crashed. There was an incident where I spent about 10 minutes trying to find my sunglasses, after failing to notice them in the first place that I looked (being my pocket). So we returned to the airport several hours earlier than planned.

Luckily, they allowed us to check in for our 8:30 flight at 3:30, and we were told of a quiet sitting area where we’d be able to sleep once we got through security. I was able to sleep quite soundly for about an hour, though Kathy didn’t do nearly as well, before having to leave because that room was extremely cold.

Somehow we muddled our way through the last few hours until our flight finally left, half an hour late. The Air Malta plane was very cramped with no entertainment, but they did serve up a very good dinner, and that, combined with no longer being able to stay awake made the flight go reasonably quickly. Until the kids (and there was an unusually large number of them sitting close to us) all started crying for the last 45 minutes of the flight.

We finally checked in at our guesthouse, where we were the only guests last night, at 2am, and promptly fell soundly asleep.

– Neil