Chapter 3 of Ten-Day

by Berck

I’m sitting at an “Internet Koffeeshop” in Amsterdam drinking at Amstel Gold. I don’t think they serve coffee here, the term seems a be a euphemism for a place to buy weed. Which is cool, I suppose. So I far I haven’t actually smoked any, despite it being legal. I refuse to see why I should have to try it just because it’s legal here.

Amsterdam. Wow. I haven’t seen anything of it yet, but it’s clearly quite a city. At least the keyboards are proper… Standard US 101key. So nice.

Anyway, if I remember right, I left off somewhere near Marseilles.

Robin and I arrived in Marseilles rather late at night with intentions of camping. It was dreary, raining, and night. Marseilles was big and ugly. We started walking where we thought we might get to the place to catch a bus, but without any luck. We were in a really bad spot in town. Robin slipped on the wet pavement at one point which seemed to solicit much laughter from those standing around watching. We felt really uncomfortable and walked into “Hotel D’Athens”. It looked really cheap. It was.

Robin and I have a knack for being on the 4th floor. I should also point out that for those of you that don’t know, the ground floor in Europe is the 0th floor. So the 4th floor is really the 5th. Which is a long walk with a big backpack. We did get lucky in Nice, we were in room 42. I felt a strange connection to Mulder as the hotel made erie sounds during the night…

It was room 48 in Marseilles. There is some really annoying music playing in here. The sole lyrics are “My house is your house and your house is mine.”

We really weren’t having a pleasant experience in Marseilles and really wanted to head north anyway. We were thinking Geneva at first, but then got this wacky idea to do Luxembourg, Brussels and Amsterdam. So we went to Paris.

To get to Paris (in order to get to Luxembourg), we had to go to Lyon first. I used one of the nifty little ticket machines in the train station that spoke flawless English and even gave me a reservation. Robin, however, had to go stand in line for her reservation, which is compulsory on all TGV trains. Her Eurail pass was good on the TGV trains, but she had to pay a supplement/reservation fee. Unfortunately, the nifty machines won’t do it. She got her reservation, and we boarded the train. I was in voiture (car) 2, and she was in 14 which, much to her dismay, was a smoking car. So, I told her I’d just meet her at the front of the train in Paris if nothing else. We both were booked through to Paris, with a short connection in Lyon.

The TGV to Lyon was fast, but stopped frequently. I found Robin in Lyon no problem, and we waited for our train to Paris. In Italy the trains are usually waiting at the station for hours on end and big stations, you board a half hour in advance, and take off. In France, the trains, especially the TGV trains, show up 4 minutes before the departure time, everyone files on, and then as the last person is squeezing on, the doors close and the train takes off.

Our tickets were one car apart, and so we figured finding each other in Paris would be easy. The train was a duplex, or double-decker. There was no room for lougage, and it was absolutely packed. I sat in my seat, crammed between a smelly frenchman and the wall, and wondered what would happen if I couldn’t find Robin.

About then, she came walking through the car with her bag. “Robin!” I said, trying to get her attention. She looked at me, and said through gritted teeth, “They screwed up my resercvations, they’re for the 22 of April, and I don’t have a seat, and the train started moving before I could get off, and so they’re probably going to kick me off.” She didn’t give me much of a chance to respond.

I got out my guide book, and told her to copy down the name of the place we were staying and direction and to meet me there since I didn’t know when she would get to Paris if they kicked her off.

I checked a copy of the timetable which I found in Nice, at the Thomas Cook place I wasn’t looking for, and discovered the TGV from Lyon to Paris doesn’t stop. So they couldn’t kick her off. I looked back to where she was standing in the gangway talking to the conductor. Eventually the conductor made his way into the car and continued checking tickets. Robin came by in a few minutes and said that he was just going to let her sit in the hallway. Which was good.

I looked out the window at the sheep flying by and decided we were going fast. How fast? I tried to figure it out. I got out Cassiopeia, and found out Paris was 244 miles from Lyon. And I checked the timetable and found out the train was 2 hours and 4 minutes. That would be 120 miles an hour. Only it had to be fast, because that would be 120 mph in a straight line, and an average speed. The train track on the map wasn’t direct, but pretty close to it. In any case we were going darned fast.

Once in Paris, we checked into the Hostel we had reservations for. “Young and Happy.” It was so corny sounding I couldn’t resist. They were all out of dorm beds, so we had to settle for the more expensive double. It was a good little hostel, and not far from food.

Robin and I went wandering and looking for food. We’d stop every few feet and get an egg roll or a Gyro, or something odd. At one point we turned a corner and this HUGE church was in front of us. “Wow,” I said. “We should take a picture of it and tell people its Notre Dame,” Robin said. “It could be Notre Dame for all I know,” I said. We walked toward it and it seemed to get bigger. We then noticed that the street we turned on was Notre Dame. And everything was called Notre Dame. Including the Cathedral.

This shop is closing, so I’m signing off for now. More to come.

Leave a Reply