22.07.2007 20 °C
Written on July 22...
Ahhhh, finally I have a plan!!!
Arrivée à Paris le 24 en soirée (Ze-Bus)
Départ de Paris le 28 en soirée pour Marseille (train)
Départ de Marseille le 31 pour Lyon (train)
Départ de Lyon le 4 pour Grenoble (train)
Départ de Grenoble le 8 août en mi-journée pour Londres (Ryanair).
A flight from Grenoble was 1/5 of the price of a train back to Paris than Paris-London! Crazy!
This plan only gives me a few days in Paris, but I've heard it's very expensive there, and anyway, I figure that even if I never get to visit all of France again, a visit of "Paris only" remains highly possible, so it's all good. On a bright note, I get to visit beautiful Marseille, where apparently the Mistral blows (hehehe, since this could be misinterpreted, FYI the Mistral is a wind in France, cold and strong! :-P, so anyway, I'm somewhat anxious to see the reaction of people there when I tell them my name !!!! hehehe
I then heading to the town of Lyon; which is apparently quite beautiful and worth visiting, then off to Grenoble which I like for the name (and it's in the Alpes, and a friend of a friend; the girlfriend of the guy I'll be staying with in Paris, lives). I'll only be in London for a couple of days, but seeing how bad the Euro is already hurting me, and the fact that French people tell me they can't afford it there (!!), I hope to survive the 2 days in London (hehehe, should be ok). Then, finally, it's home !!! yay!!! well, kinda, mom's place for a while, then move to residence... which I'll eventually call home for sure.
So anyway, couple of stories I want to remember:
We sometimes hear of the immigration tensions in France, but I have to admit that I have only seen a couple of examples of it. 1- I overheard a few homeless people talking and they kept repeating "les arabes et les noirs"... alright, whatever. 2-Then in Bordeaux, I kept buying water at this convenience store, so the guy (clearly from arabic descent) and I started chatting once. He said "vous êtes québecoise?", I said yes, and I asked if he was french, half joking, expecting a "mais bien sur!" or something. His answer surprised me, as much for the content, as for the speed at which it came out. He said "nooon! je suis Tunisien", so I said "vous n'êtes pas français?", he said "no", I asked if he was officially a French citizen, and he said "oui, mais vous savez..." ... wow, it was a clear display of "feeling of non-assimilation" and it made me wonder if our "minorities" in Canada would have the same answer... I left it at that, but almost asked him why he came and stayed here then (but if you've ever met someone from a 2nd or 3rd world country, it's almost the national dream to go live overseas, so it was kind of a stupid question. It would have been better to ask if he knew what was awaiting here before coming....as this is something I wonder every time I take a cab driven by an Indian, or go to the Dry-cleaner, etc).
Anyway, the 3rd incident was in the tram. The system is as follow: you buy a ticket at a stand at the tram stop, and validate it on the tram (by inserting it into a little machine in the tram). The system is basically control-free, except for the controllers, who, like in Vancouver, roam the trains, and most of the time you don't see them, but sometimes they just appear and check everyone's ticket. Well, 3 black teenagers had their ticket but didn't validate them (once validated the ticket is only good for 1 hour), when they saw the controller get on, one of them rushed to the nearest "validator-machine" and proceeded to validate the tickets. The controller saw him do it, so he said that this wasn't how it's to be done, and they had committed an infraction and bla bla bla! I honestly don't know if he would have done the same if the culprit was a middle-aged white woman (i.e), but they black guy argued for a while and they said, "c'est ça, c'est parce que je suis noir!" I was unfortunately getting off at that point, so I didn't hear the response, but I also don't think that it was entirely justified (the it's because I'm black comment).... this is, so far, the extent of my witnessing of "racial inequalities", despite the fact that the hostel in Bordeaux was in a clearly impoverished black/arabic neighborhood (aka ghetto'ish)
To finish on a brighter note: hehehe in La Rochelle, I realised that I hadn't had any cheese yet, which is sort of a crime when in France (in my mind at least) hehehe, so I bought a slice of brie and some bread, ate most of it for lunch and put what was left in my bag. Later that day, I kept getting whiffs of stinky feet, and happened to be wearing my sandals which sometimes give me "not so good" feet odour (hehehe) so back at the hostel, I washed my sandals and my feet, but was puzzled by the fact that neither stunk... whatever, I then went to bed and had yet again a nasty whiff, re-smelled my feet... everything was good so I went to sleep (note, I always sleep with my purse next to me on the bed). The next morning, I had to pack for the trip to here, so I started loading and unloading the stuff in my purse, only to take out the cheese and bread and get a REALLY strong feet scent! hehehe it was the cheese which hadn't kept too well in my bag!!! hehehe end of story! hehehe
P.S. Laundromats are FREAKING expensive here!!! Like 4-6E for a load!!!!!!! I had to do too much laundry for my usual system (wash the clothes of the day while I take my shower (clothes not on me of course!! I have a bar of clothes soap that I bought in India, and just incorporate clothes washing inbetween "me" washing) so I decided to do a load at "the bargain price" of 6.2E for wash and dry, for a load of up to 8kg... I though "I don'th think I even have 8kg worth of clothes..." so I washed everything I have with me... it's good to have all "machine-washed and dried" clothes for the first time in months!!! hehehe