A late wrap-up

I meant to write a wrap-up of my Europe trip around xmas time, but I didn't. Anyway, I got back home on Dec 24, after a very tiresome three day trip from London via France and Belgium. I don't regret it, though, as the trip back let me meet new people and see interesting things.

The three weeks were great. It wasn't the kind of vacation after which one feels relaxed and ready to face new challenges, but I wasn't expecting anything like that, after all. I saw a lot, got time to think and be alone, and built the need to do something like that again. The next trip will be very, very, different though, and so close that I can already smell it.

Thanks for following. More to come some day soon.


(Hopefully) the final little update

As my flight from London was canceled, and I couldn't get another one before xmas, I decided to try to get to Brussels (Belgium) and fly from there to home on Thursday. Tomorrow morning I will travel to Dover, take a ferry to Calais (France), and the take trains to Brussels. I don't know how long it will take, but if there are no problems on the way, I should be there at the evening. We'll see. And we'll also need to see if the flight I booked leaves on Thursday at all.



I woke up and took the Eurostar train from Paris to London. Naturally they didn't have any "interrail seats" available, but I couldn't care less about the money as I was just willing to get to London and closer to getting home. I started feeling a bit odd in the way, and in the tunnel below the sea the feeling got stronger. I thought it might have been about pressure or something like that, but in a while I realized I had caught a flu. When we arrived at London, I was already very exhausted and in muscle pains, so I headed straight to the tube (the London underground) and to the hotel.

I had forgotten to check out the gigs in London for the weekend earlier, so I did that in the bed of the tiny but cozy hotel room. I got really mixed feelings when I saw that my good, old (and old) friend, Dave Witte, was playing that night in London with his band, Municipal Waste. I sent Dave a message telling I might show up if I felt better, but after exchanging a few messages, I thought I could die tomorrow and enjoy that night. A VIP list, drinking, cannot resist such things. A quick shower and a whisky at the bar nearby helped me get feeling better, and I headed towards the O2 Academy.

The gig was great, and the crowd was manic. I didn't know the band had such a following around here. The circle pit went from the front of the stage to the back of the crowd, and people were tripping over all the time.

The curfew was right after the gig, but as I hadn't talked with Dave, yet, I went to wave to him in front of the stage, and he invited me on stage to hug and chat. I hadn't seen him for over four years, and it was damn nice to get to do it now! He also invited me to backstage to drink some good Belgian beers, which is another thing I cannot resist.

After that backstage closed, we went to a bar called Big Red. A cover band called Dirty/DC (covering... guess who?) was playing there, and we had too much fun (again) drinking and talking to each other. And drinking a bit more.

After the bar closed, I found myself standing alone in the street, feeling very ill again, and shivering. All the taxis seemed to be unavailable, but eventually I found a nice Turkish guy who took me near my hotel for a reasonable price. He wanted to make sure I would find my hotel, and I told him I was sure I could. And I couldn't. Only after asking three different groups of people and walking and shivering for 10 hours (might have been minutes, but felt like hours) I got it where I was, rushed to the room, and fell asleep while still shivering and feeling bad.

Of these four guys, I mostly talked with the one on the left.
I felt worse in the morning, now with the buddies Shivering and Muscle Pain reinforced with Dr Stomach Ache and Mr Hangover. I needed some food, though, as I kinda forgot to eat anything solid the last night, so about 9 PM I finally got the balls to go to buy something. My culinaristic trip received a brutal end with a Triple Whopper with fries and coke. The transformation from the food-loving traveller to a burger eating metal pig was pretty quick.

I destroyed her, in the first part and the late night's sequel.

Paris, je t'aime (despite the rain)

After sleeping the whole day, I couldn't get sleep until 6 AM or something. When I was supposed to get up, well, I just got up this time. I can be surprising like that! It took a while to get things done, though, as I'm not the quickest person alive when I'm tired. I also decided to get my flight back home, as I still wanted to see things from not only trains' windows, and the xmas is getting very close now. My final destination (uh!) will be London, where I'll spend my time from Friday night to Monday morning.

All in all, I got outside around midday, and went straight towards the restaurant I wanted to eat tonight. I kind of knew it wouldn't be open, yet, but I simply wanted to see where it is so that I'd find it later at the night. While looking for it, I went in another place to have my daily dose of salad with ham and eggs and fries, and wine, of course. The wine was in glass, you wise-asses. I really love the inventiveness of French kitchen. This wasn't a Michelin star breakfast bar, but still the salad was very good, genuine, and tasty. After the compulsory espresso (decaf, WTF?), I went looking for that other place, and found it just round the corner. It was to open at 7 PM, and I wouldn't even have been ready for it, yet, so I headed to my main destination, Louvre.

Louvre was somewhat bigger than the distant relative in my hometown in Finland. It was actually mad. After going through the renaissance era paintings and Roman sculptures, I had walked for kilometers in over an hour. Mona Lisa's smile didn't make me jizz in my pants, mostly due to the bullet-proof glass and the 5 meter security distance. Okay, I have to admit I've never really got the painting. The smile is kind of retarded to me. I saw enough of those smiles on the faces of the cerebral palsies at my youth center's Thursday disco. I was playing pool, not dancing with them, you dick.

Still, Louvre is awesome. Just when you think of getting out, your eyes hit something that you still want to see. Like the Egypt section, which took me another hour to walk through. I spent about three hours walking around the building(s), and eventually decided to just get out before I collapse.

This is what happens if you walk through the whole Louvre twice in a row.
My next destination was Arc de Triomphe. Normally you would've taken a Métro there, but I wanted to see Champs-Élysées' roads and avenues, and those booths selling glühwein, chestnuts, candies, pussy... no, not pussy, but everything that a normal tourist would grab. I just walked on and on, and on. I finally came to the arch, and it seemed like it was closed, as they were performing some kind of military "rituals" below it. Fortunately I was wrong, and I could get in by mere 9€. I'm being sarcastic here, as the wonders of Louvre cost me 9,50€, and now we're talking about walking endless stairs up to a roof of... an arch. And that's it. Well, the view was great, and even though my high anxiety was screaming for help, I felt good that I beat it and saw the whole rainy Paris there.

After the endless downward spiral of stairs, I decided it's time to do the same with the Eiffel tower. The walk was shorter, but the rain kind of pissed me off. I'm the only one whole blame, though, as the weather was good yesterday, and I was sleeping. The tower was beautiful, especially as it was dark outside and the whole structure was blossoming with lights. My high anxiety jumped out of happiness when the LED screens announced that the tower was closed. Maybe the recent terrorist threats and my pumped-up backpack did it.

It was the time to finally get to my dinner destination, La Poule Au Pot. I got there a bit late, as I had hard times reading the map and finding a Métro stop (you know, I walk, but there's a limit to it), but fortunately it wasn't fully booked and I got in easily. The restaurant was recommended by my chef friend, Antti also, and it was worth the trip and more. The food was excellent, and as an added bonus, I learned that all the big stars, from Prince to Motörhead to Norah Jones to Rolling Stones (to me now) had eaten there. They had small plaques for everyone of those on the walls, and no, they didn't ask if they can add my name there. Assholes. Anyway, the food was good, the waiters were polite but damn funny, and I had everything I wanted there plus more. A bit too much, actually, as I felt I'd fall asleep after the café and calvados. They told me I could stay there until 5 AM, but I politely asked for the check, paid the tip for the service, and got back via an even bigger rain and Métros to the hotel.


An update

I'm now in London, and won't be out of here until Monday morning. I'm feeling ill, though, so let's see if I'm able to hit the Municipal Waste gig tonight.


The Undisputed Heavyweight World Champion in Sleeping

The train to Paris only took 5 h 45 min, and the trip went surprisingly fast. I realized I had started to lose the final restraints in travelling alone, and going through the Paris Métro (the underground), with connections and all, felt very normal and easy. I wandered a while trying to find the hotel, again, but this time I knew I'd eventually find it, and didn't worry or start grabbing the laptop for checking the street map out. I had had my South and North reversed, and found the hotel in the right spot after returning to the Métro station. The welcome was warm, and the room was cozy. I thought of waking up early, but couldn't help watching more stuff on my computer until 5 AM.

The next day – yes, you got it – was spoiled with sleeping again. I woke up every now and then, saw a dozen different dreams, was woken up once by reception as they wanted to know if I want my room cleaned, but it wasn't until 9:30 PM when I hopped up finally. Great to spend money on a hotel night and miss a full day in Paris.

I suppose this sleeping thing is all because of the fact that I haven't had a proper vacation in 1,5 years, and I've been rather stressed out and been doing too many things at the same time, all the time. I think I haven't relaxed for ages until now. I don't feel sleepy at all, I just sleep. So, even though I've missed three full days on this trip, I take it as a good thing. I feel better than I've felt for a long time now.

Anyway, I decided to get back the day I had missed, so I booked another night in the hotel. I also needed to eat something, and went out to do so in a restaurant nearby. The food was simple but awesome, and the employees were great.

I will have two clocks ringing tomorrow. Let's see if I'll see Mona Lisa this time.

Some local sausage with potato. Looks like shit, tastes like "damn good".

The decision

As I had no reservations made for the night in Torino, I walked to the first hotel I saw, or actually the first one that didn't look too expensive considering my modest need of just getting a place to stay. The friendly old lady of Hotel Bologna booked me in, and I went to the room to sleep my still-going hangover milder. At the very late night, I made the decision where to go. I had thought of going South, to Spain maybe, but the feeling of getting closer to home now as I only had a week time left was the one in my mind, and that's why I chose to go to Paris. I'll get to see Spain again some other day.

In the next morning, I bought the seat to the train that went straight to Paris, and I went to abuse a free wifi in a cafeteria to reserve the hotel. This time I didn't really care about the price as long as it was in "my price range", and took a fairly good one.

After eating some ciabattas and traditional Italian döner kebap with traditional Italian fries, I headed to the station. Fortunately I was there early, as I hadn't noticed in the train ticket that the station wasn't the right one. With a mild panic I headed to the underground and got to the correct railway station well ahead of time. Another missile avoided. One of those will hit me before I'm home, I'm sure.

She must have loved me.