Europe Travel: The Beginning

God it’s good to be on the interwebs again. I felt like a technomancer out in some dead zone.  Since I rarely post anything here I’m post my “adventures in Europe” here.  Plus I have nowhere else that I still post things this long. So here we go, from the top.

Day 0~2: These three days really blurred together so I’ll just do them all at the same time.  The day before we left was mostly filled with disappointment.  My car has/had a broken water pump, so we took it to this mechanic and he said ‘I’ll fix it for $500 and have it ready for you before you leave on your trip’.  I drop my car off and go to work.

After work I head to RadioShack to try and get a prepaid phone that will work in France.  I talk to a sales rep and he says ‘this one works in 60 countries including France’.  I buy the phone plus 200mins and go home.  Around this time (7:30pm) I get a call from the mechanic saying ‘I’m not going to be done until tomorrow afternoon’  Having no way of arranging to have it picked up before they closed at 8pm, my car is now going to sitting in downtown Minneapolis for almost 2wks.  I really don’t like that but I get over it.

I get home and start programming the phone only to find out it only works in the states.  If you’re in the US you can make/receive calls from 60 countries, but once you leave US soil it dies like my other phone.  I called RadioShack about it and they said ‘I’m sorry; I must have read it wrong.  Btw, those $40’s worth of minutes you bought are non-refundable’. Even buying a new SIM card once I got to Europe would work because it’s duel band instead of quad band.

I abandoned the phone idea and spent the night alternating between an hour of sleep, an hour of TV, and an hour of packing.  During this, my dad is still running around working on things.  Either it’s something at working that needs to come with us, something for the church that can’t be done there, or some random shopping that got put off to the last minute.

So when it comes down leave, we’re running late.  Halfway to the airport, he realizes he forgot his phone while he was packing.  My mom and I get dropped off while he drives back.  We have 90mins before departure and it’s 30mins each way from airport to house.

Mom and I get through check in and security with minimal trouble and were just waiting outside security (door 6) for my dad.  He gets there about 35mins before departure.  Unfortunately his security door (door 1) only has one line open.  We told him to go down to gate 3 (3 lines open) or gate 6 (2 lines open) but he kept saying he was almost there.  So he finally gets through with 5mins before departures.  Door 1 was also the farthest from our planes gate.  So we missed our flight.

After how things went with my car and the phone, I kind of figured things like this were going to keep happening.  We go to re-booking (extra$150 charge) and get on the next flight in 2hrs.  Meanwhile we got some food and ran into a group of Japanese school girls trying to order a lot of pizza.  It was amusing and made up for missing the plane (I thought it did at least).

We get some food and get onto our plane without any more problems.  I spend the flight from Minneapolis to New York floating between sleep and reading my book.  Because we were late my parents and I just went straight to our connecting flight.

The plane from NYC to London was cool.  Every seat had a screen built into the chair in front of it for your choice of movies, music, weather, etc.  I watched Toy Story 3 (awesome movie) and then went messing through the music they had.  Around this time I start getting rather itchy and we would later find out I ate ‘something’ I was allergic to.  I tried to sleep but not easy to do when you’re on an aisle seat with a rash.

We land in London after a 7hr flight, go through customs and luggage claim and start to leave the terminal when our next problem hit.  We were supposed to get a travelcard, one ticket that works on all the buses/subways/trains/ferries in London.  Instead they sold us a single use subway ticket.  So when we got on the train from the terminal we had to pay another 50lbs for not having the right tickets.

I also discovered my phone is more useless than I thought.  In addition to not being working as a phone, it can’t figure out what time it is without being on the Sprint Network and I can’t set it manually.  One time display is frozen at 9:29am and the other thinks it’s January 2006.  Grand total, I have no phone, no watch, no alarm clock, and no calendar.

Next station we fixed our tickets and soon we were navigating our way through the London underground.  We stopped by Buckingham palace, Big ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Millennium Eye, London Bridge, the globe theatre, and the tower bridge.  We burned though most of the sights without taking the tours since we only had 12hrs before our train to Paris.  All in all, the day was nice and the people were friendlier than I thought they’d be.

We spent the last part of our day fight with the train people.  I ordered our tickets online.  I got an email saying that they were ordered but since I hadn’t checked our email since we left MN I didn’t get the email saying they cancelled our tickets.  We bought new tickets and waited for the next train.  By this time, we’re exhausted from walking all day and my rash is starting to get visible and painful.  We get on the train (which isn’t as nice as I thought it’d be) and we get to Paris about midnight.

Since we missed the earlier train, the station was just about closed and most of the English-speaking people had gone home along with the currency exchange people.  We had a little trouble getting a taxi but he took us to an ATM and then to the hotel.  After checking into the hotel and covering myself with lotion I crashed.

Day 3: I don’t like this hotel.  They charge for everything and it’s expensive.  This affects me in two ways, the Internet and the food.  I’m here for 10 days. Internet is 7E an hour or 24E a day (about $9 and $30 respectively).  I’m writing this just before going to check the business center.  If they charge for that I’m screwed for a while. Next is the food.  The portion sizes are 3/4 what they are in the states and about twice the cost.  I don’t like to experiment with expensive stuff.

My rash was mostly gone by morning and the first day of work went ok.  We were just suppose to check in to the site, take a look around, and then go home for the day.  Check in isn’t set up yet and two of our workers went to the wrong location.  My dad and I helped with set up.  I mostly just did conversions for him, inches to meters or lbs to kilos (something my phone is still good for).  We helped out 3hrs before check in was set up.  After that we went back to our hotel and I crashed until they called me for lunch.

Breakfast had been ok.  Since it’s an international hotel they had a buffet with lots of stuff.  Not all of it tasted good, but there was a lot to pick from.  Lunch was not as good.  Since we came at an odd time, we had a limited menu.  The food itself was good, but I’m still going to search for a McDonald or a pizza hut for future meals.  After lunch I took a nap.  Not sure if it’s jet lag or sleep deprivation, probably both but I’m sleeping a lot.

I wrote most of this and then tried to go to the business center but the local time was 2am so they were closed.  Instead I went back to bed.

I tried using the timer instead of the alarm clock.  Ended up getting up at 11am local time which means I missed breakfast.  I went up to the business center again.  Turns out it is 6E every 15mins.  This place is ridiculous.  I met up with my parents and decided what to do about food since we missed the complimentary breakfast.  After talking to the hotel staff we went to this café down the street.  I had a salted salmon crepe.  It was like sushi but instead of seaweed, they used a flat pancake.  My mom got a steak and a bourdou.  At this point I should say that my family (aside from my brother) doesn’t drink.  She got it because it was cheaper than the sodas (gotta love the French).  So after one glass she was lightheaded/dipsy so we went back to the hotel.

We rested up, made a plan, and headed out to the Eiffel Tower.  I still don’t entirely understand the ticket system for their subways, but I’ll figure it out later.  Along the way we were hounded by a lot of salesmen with cheap tower merchandise.  There were also a lot of Muslim women with signs begging for money and ‘supposedly’ deaf mute people asking for petitions signatures.  My mom had to talk to every single one of them.

The tower was pretty cool.   It was cold by the time we got through the line so we only went to the 2nd floor instead of to the top.  It was dark by this time so it made for some incredible views and horrible pictures.  The trip back was rather uneventful and afterwards we went to the hotel dessert buffet for some overpriced chocolate.

I have more to about Paris in general, but I’m running low on battery power so I’ll wrap up this post.  The coming ones will likely be smaller.  See you when I get home.

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  1. #1 by Phillip on October 24, 2010 - 2:47 AM

    Luckily it doesn’t sound like anything horrific, just some inconveniences and a few more stories to be able to tell. After all, what’s a trip without stories?

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