Wed Sep 19, 2001 | day 9
I always imagined that rain in Paris would be romantic. It isn't. For the past few days, the sun has been fighting the rain in a battle for ownership of the sky. Most of the time, the sun would win the battle and would force it's way through the clouds for a few hours, bringing forth a good day for me to tour the outdoor sites.
However, the sun lost the war today. Starting at 5am, the rain celebrated it's defeat of the sun by releasing its water and did not stop until 10pm.
Fortunately, there are many things to do in Paris underground. I have become fond of trying out each of the fourteen metro lines and five RER lines which burrow under the city of Paris like giant worms.
They are all slightly different as well. Some are clean, like the M1 Louvre station, which has large posters advertising the many works of art at the famous museum. Others look and smell like they are cleaned annually, smelling like a large toilet. Nonetheless, all of them are interesting and alive with people. At the M12 Lamarck station, the maze of pathways to the street echoed with the voice of a singer, who took advantage of the wonderful acoustics.
In the morning, I took the bus to Porte Maillot, the conduit between my campsite in the 16th Arr. and the rest of Paris, and watched my first French film without subtitles: "Vidocq." Vidocq is a science-fiction / mystery movie about a mysterious murderer who wears a reflective helmet and has no name. Vidocq, played by Gerard Depardieu, is the detective trying to find the killer. The film, which takes place in Paris in the 1830's, has many great stunts and special effects that would make George Lucas envious. I hope it comes out in the States so all of you can see it (and I can finally figure out what they were talking about since it was all in French!) The best way to describe it is "Sleepy Hollow" meets "Highlander". (Official Web site: http://www.vidocq-lefilm.com)
After the cinema, I spent a few hours at La Defense, the west part of Paris destroyed and rebuilt in the 1970's to become more fashionable. In the large area is a multi-story underground mall which is equal in size to South Coast Plaza or Ontario Mills malls in Southern California. I spent the day wandering the mall window shopping. If there is one thing I am an expert at doing here in Paris, it would be keeping a hold of my money in a mall.
The security is still tight around all of Paris. Armed police are everywhere. At the Eiffel Tower a few days ago, I took pictures of police and military armed with machine guns, patrolling the perimeter of the park. At La Defense, I was asked to reveal the contents of my backpack to security TWICE! I am also seeing police inside of the Metro. "A hit on one is a hit on all" as someone said last week referring to The Incident. I, for one, am happy to see the extra protection than not.
I stumbled into camp around 5p weary and sore. Due to all of my hiking this week, I have a few blisters that need tending to and a sore back to rest. I could feel my bones ache and my muscles spasm as I slept in my tent for the remainder of the day. I would kill for a nice warm bed in front of a fire.
As I lay in bed, I thought of the trips I took with my family when I was younger. Every one of those trips had three steps to them that I became comfortable with.
Step #1: travel to destination
Step #2: stay at destination
Step #3: travel home from destination
Tomorrow, I will be re-writing step #3. My body and soul are saying to me: "Kolby, we're done with step #2. Let's take step #3 and get home, ok?" It's is unfortunate that I will have to deny them both, because my mind is set on the modified and untested step #3. Step 3.1: "Travel to new destination (repeat if necessary)"
Tomorrow I will be taking a train northeast to one of the smallest countries in Europe, Luxembourg. Then on to Belgium, The Netherlands and I hope to be in Munster, Germany by September 28 or so. I have no idea where I might go and what I might see in these countries, and that is exactly how I want it. Sure, the lands have been discovered and explored for thousands of years, but not by me...
Talk to you soon,