A Travellerspoint blog

Catchup

finally entering some travel junk...

overcast
View 2009 05 11 Jasonian Loop de Loop on jreuer's travel map.

I have failed at daily blogging so here's many days worth.

Arrival! Whoo hooo!
After "enduring" a flight in Air France business class (the gent next to me had terrible "woke me up wide-eyed and startled" gas. I swear he must have eaten a dead and rotting mouse cuz the dogs farts never smelled so bad. Maybe all our American food had his tummy upset...but I digress) my arrival was amazingly easy. Of course it was! I had sent my advance team aka Jimmy a couple weekends before (He was actually passing through Paris on his way back home from busines in Dublin). He had arranged for our friend Sam to pick me up at the airport! He had also told them the wrong day so they had a dry run at it the day before - JUST to make sure I was collected! I get off my flight and I hear a familiar "Coo Coo!" (Sam's call) and I think "that's strange" I don't even have my bags and baggage was my first priority. But turns out there is a glass viewing area so non-travellers can watch the travellers scurry around blearily eyed navigating their luggage and customs. Customs in France is no more than some uniformed folks standing around visiting paying no heed to the ocean of folks exiting the baggage area. Joyously my trip begin with an absents of tortured communication with a cab driver.

On packing light.
A word on it...There are some people who are adept at picking up languages, doing mathematics and I'm convinced...packing light. I tried to gag down the cool-aid...and some did make it into my tummy...but what Jimmy ended up doing for me is sticking my wee Rick Steves in our giant roller. Notice I said Jimmy did it for me. I was catatonic by this point. A delightful pre-travel "What the hell am I doing" panic had shot through me and my mind went as blank as your favorite Olivia Newton John cassette tape after it sat on your brothers magnet pile for a couple days. There are still chirps and whistles but none of it makes sense. That is what happened with my brain.

I will succumb to dragging that damn overnight case with only a g-string and chap-stick on the tour in a couple weeks because deep in my heart I do recognize the necessity of the light packing. But while I'm in Paris and Prague I'll have more with me than a g-string and chap-stick.

Shoe crisis...
Get Imelda on the phone. I have been looking for comfortable shoes - in general - for months now. That and I have also received custom orthodontics from my podiatrist one week before departure. Delightful combo before you head off to Europe to WALK ALL DAY for 42 days. I'll keep you posted. Oh packing light folks let me hear your collected shriek...I packed FOUR pair of shoes. FOUR. 1 2 3 4. That would be 8 actual shoes in all. Ha!

Cross-roads
After sitting in hell traffic, getting settled and unpacking my eight shoes I struck out. My host had things to do and I was going to roam the neighborhood and end up in Gambetta and stroll the Pere La Chaise. I needed to eat and this was going to be my very first foray into using the year of french I took 5 years ago. I was nervous because Jimmy is my voice when in France. But one must feed onesself and it is much more difficult to eat if you can't speak.

Starting with a strolling tour of Gambetta was a great choice. I know the area well as it's close to our friends apartments and Jimmy and I have walk through and around it just about every day we have ever been in Paris. I selected a place to eat based on a number of factors. 1 the menu had to have something I could recognize and pronounce. 2 it needed to be clear if I sat myself or if I was host seated 3 it must have food. I easily found a place and when I walked in I realized I actually do have a french speaking voice. I sound like an infant with my use of words and construction...but I was understood and got nothing but French back the whole time.
I discovered (people and teachers tell you this all the time but until you are faint with hunger and are forced to do it - just doesn't mean anything) that if you just hear the blah blah of what they say and key in on the one or two words you do hear you can work backwards from those couple words and deduce what they just blah blahed to you. Of course you have to be quick or you'll lose them. It's worked for 3 days now! But again I digress...

It was only 1pm and I had just ordered and was perusing my guide book when I thought..."what the heck I'll check facebook" To my surprise I saw that my friend Ana was going to be in the center of Paris at 3. Whoda thunk!" Doable I thought. So I ate, paid and headed out to find the city center via Cimetière Père-Lachaise.

Cimetière Père-Lachaise
A quiet wonderful tranquil easter egg kinda place. You are surrounded by beautiful tombs and crypts and the place is full of trees and feral cats...oh and it's immense. It's easter eggish in that you never know what you are going to run into and if you are looking for something specific give it up. I wanted to see Edith Piaf's tomb and a couple others. I figured I could breeze by them on the way to meet Ana. Tranquility was not to be had as today was "lets limb up all these bushes and trees" day and the chainsaws were going full tilt in the area I was going Easter egg hunting. I poked around as long as I could with the din of metal chain on wood and 3stroke exhaust, never found the tombs I was looking for and realized a deficiency in my guide - no metro stops on the map. Damn you DK publishing! I did run into a couple interesting things...
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Ever wonder what happens when you swallow seeds? They grow out of you later!
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Using some deduction I actually ended up exiting close to the metro stop I wanted and made it to the rendezvous point.
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After coffee Ana and I then walked the Seine and saw some of the sights. It was a lovely sunny afternoon.
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Wednesday I was scheduled to have lunch with Alex so I though I'd pop over to an area we have never explored before I met him. Jardin des Plantes. Saw the remains of an old arena there arènes de Lutèce and stumbled on the Museum of Natural history. Didn't go in but the surrounds were great.
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Lunch with Alex was great. Went to a place that specializes in making food with cheese and paring them with wine. It was delightful and we caught up on each others lives.

Okay..more happened that day but I'm done for now.

Posted by jreuer 23:54 Archived in France Comments (1)

Pixel Perplexes

Or Getting more than one blog post on this so I know how it works...

I have been valiantly trying to resist the urge to buy a DSLR. Reasons are varied...but mostly because they are so freaking huge, bulky and attention grabbing. When I travel I suffer from a strange shyness so whipping out a gigantic photo appliance is not something I want to go back to. That said if I had to I would - after all I did travel to Europe the first time with a film camera (seems like the stone age). Those pictures are all trapped in albums right now. But I digress...

I have had a Panasonic for a while. I enjoy it's wide angle lens and use, to a lesser extend, it's 10x optical zoom. However if you are not outside images suffer. It does badly in low light. Worse it's flash is like a star going supernova.

I have recently purchased a FinePix F200EXR. I have long liked the Fuji sensor - once having a fuji that did very well in poor light and excellent in outdoor light - but they haven't had a 28mm camera. Until now.

(Really this is all about experimenting with photos in the blog)

Here's Jimmy in Saltoro (not using the thumbnail setting)
DSCF8341.jpg I used the cameras High ISO Low Noise setting I'm wondering how it did and how text will wrap around this image.

Pretty sure I rotated this image. Let's see what it ends up looking like. and I'll not HR or Space before it to see DSCF8074.jpg how text wraps. Oh I didn't use the thumbnail option on this one.

Pretty sure I rotated this image. Let's see what it ends up looking like. and I'll not HR or Space before it to see DSCF8237.jpg how text wraps. Oh I didn't use the thumbnail option on this one.

Well I think I have fairly filled this with enough rambling.

Looks like text wraps fairly poorly. If I continue to use this blog I'll have to note that.

Posted by jreuer 13:34 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (1)

Two L's?

Two weeks away

So what's up with two L's in Traveler? If you are like me you suppose you have been spelling it wrong all along. However, "Traveller" is a British form of the yank version of Traveler - or so I'm told by "The Free Online Dictionary."

I thought I would start some pre-travel (or should it be travell) writing about my big adventure coming up. As with any decision I make the choice of a blog provider provided me a great deal of vexation. Sooooo I narrowed it to two and will very likely use Jimmy and my mom as guinea pigs for a final decision.

Six weeks of travel is two weeks away for me. SIX WEEKS! Yikes.

I'm sitting here looking at a this 9X21X14 Rick Steves branded black bag that, still in it's crinkly shiny new-luggage plastic sheath, is already proving my nemesis. Rick Steves claims one should be able to live for 6 days or 6 months with the same, very short, list of items - he smugly carries everything he needs in what looks like a large purse. To me his assertion,seems all to similar to my vet telling me I should be able to brush my cats teeth. While in theory packing and living 6 months out of a teeny tiny bag might be possible I live in a reality where I have trouble making checked baggage weight limits. The realization those trips have recently been international business class check-ins, which have a very gracious luggage weight limit, is sinking in.

Fact is I have a perfectly wonderful hard shell monster of a suitcase I purchased in Japan several years ago. It's sleek, sliver and dimpled. It cries out to accompany me and lures me by flashing a handle here, 4 independent casters there, opening its cavernous maw lined with fabulous fabric - inviting me to load it with 70lbs of necessities. Alas as seductive as that is common sense tells me that unless it also has somehow developed the power to levitate it would be a liability traveling through 7 countries. Not to mention the Rick Steves tour portion of my trip limits me to a single piece of luggage precisely the size of the bag still basting in plastic hydrocarbon vapors.
Coincidence? I think not. I'm realizing I'm stuck with this scratchy, low-tech rucksack at least for the tour.
First stop - a sewing shop for a seam ripper to get Ricks embroidered name off this snail shell I'll need to learn to call "luggage"

Posted by jreuer 23:10 Archived in USA Tagged packing Comments (1)

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