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Archives:

7/23/2000 - 7/29/2000
7/16/2000 - 7/22/2000
7/9/2000 - 7/15/2000
7/2/2000 - 7/8/2000
6/25/2000 - 7/1/2000
6/18/2000 - 6/24/2000
6/11/2000 - 6/17/2000


About this blog:

On May 20, 2000, I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts degree from DePauw University. And what better way to celebrate selling my soul to the University of Wisconsin graduate school than by spending five weeks in Europe? Since Europe is allegedly riddled with these "cyber-cafés," I plan to update this travel weblog as often as possible to let loved ones know how i'm doing, and what they're missing. I'll periodically check my email from over there, too, so drop me a line.


Webrings:

« | ? | Photography & Travel | # | »
« | ? | Le Club des Voyageurs | # | »
« | ? | Independent Travellers | # | »
« | ? | Around the Worlds | # | »

«Friday, June 30, 2000»

12:28 PM... There's a store here in Nice called "Le Kentucky." I went in (told the proprietor that I was actually from Kentucky and he kept his eye on me the whole time...) and all they sell is DNKY and trendy junk clothes for over 1000F for a pair of pants (that, my friends, is ridiculous, unlike Kentucky).

I went to the Marc Chagall Museum yesterday, but dawdled around so long that I never made it to the Matisse (perhaps today, my train doesn't leave until 21h30 or something. The Chagall Museum was exclusively of his biblical works. And some of them were just pages ripped out of a sketchbook. He had a lot of "Moses Receiving the Ten Commandments," a lot of "Song of Solomon" (heheh), and a lot fo "Jacob and His Ladder." I was almost disappointed with the repetition until I discovered the rooms in the back with paintings and stained glass works and sculptures... much more varied and refined. He had this gorgeous series (maybe 10 to 12 paintings) that were of events in the Jewish tradition, but with forshadowing imagery of the crucifixion, resurrection, and even paradise in the upper corners in the distance (but very very faintly done). A very clever approach, I thought, to the relationship between the new and old testaments.

Last night after the futball game there was no one my age that spoke English (or French; for that matter) staying in my hotel, so I found one of the youth hostels nearby that had rejected me the night before, and decided to go hang out with the tenants there. I met a couple of girls from Colorado and a slew of kids from New Zealand and Australia. We sat around in this tiny French kitchen and drank cheap wine, shared some travelling stories (I didn't have nearly as many as they did), and talked about varying English dialects (paricularly interesting to me were the subtle differences between Australian and New Zealand accents). Come midnight, the Colorado girls wanted to sleep, so we all walked down to the beach and skipped stones off the surf. It wasn't that much harder than skipping them off a creek or pond, really... if you had a good stone (for those of you who don't know... there's no sand on the French Riviera, it's all rocks). Then we played this game where we set up the big stones and tried to knock them over with the ones around where we were sitting. It was fun, in a faboulously nervous what-a-good-single-serving-friend-evening sort of way. I got to sleep around 2h00 this morning. And got up at 9h00.

Now... back to the beach. I met a slew of Minnesota girls this morning who told me to come back after I checked out of ly hotel. Besides, what's carrying 200 pounds of travel stuff on your back without sunburnt shoulders to make it interesting?

«Thursday, June 29, 2000»

11:22 AM... First things first: since I wasn't able to get online yesterday, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish my parents a HAPPY 25th ANNERVERSARY!! (it was yesterday, June 28). Sounds like you cats are enjoying Scotland.

Secondly, if you missed the futball match last night, read up on it here. A beautiful play right there at the end of sudden death overtime. The hotel lobby in Nice was a riot.

Third, omigosh yesterday was a terrible day. I woke up Wednesday morning and checked out of the hostel. Then I went to the Cathèdrale Saint-Jean Baptiste in Vieux Lyon (which, if I didn't already tell you, I call "View Lyon" because it's a beautiful view from the mountain). It is still an active Catholic church, though from what I could gather from the info signs, it is the ruins of an Epicopal Church from the gothic era. It was architacturally beautiful, but laden with flyers and bulletin boards and posters of the pope and a postcard shop. Almost like part ruin, part tourist trap, part church propaganda outlet. And here's what it made me think: this is really tacky. But MY church is laden with posters and billboards, too, and I don't think that's tacky. And before I could pass much more judgement, I had to look at myself and conclude (though I'm not quite sure how this followed), that I'm much more secure surrounding myself with and toting around church propoganda than I am living a life that is unmistakably that of a Christian. Anyway, a little bit of soul searching.

Then I went to the Musée de la Civilisation Gallo-Romain that I waited two days to see, and was very disappointed (but the student rate was only 10F... not even a buck and a half). The artifacts were only labeled by when and where they were found, not what they were or might have been used for. And of the few complete ruins they had in the museum, only half were translated. (And I don't mean from french... I mean from latin!!) but it wasn't that bad, I wizzed through it and ran to the internet café up the hill, which was full, so I just got my bags from the hostel and hitched to bus to the train station and boarded the next train to Nice (not a TGV, so it wasn't scheduled to arrive until a little after 18h00).

Here's where things get fun: due to technical difficulty or strike (I hope the former) the train didn't get going until about 14h00, and I arrived in Nice two hours late, just five minutes before the Beureau de la Tourisme closed... just in time to learn how to catch the bus to the youth hostel on the north side of town. Once I got there, I found out it was more of a camp/retreat joint than a youth hostel, and it was already completely rented out by a youth group from South Africa. So I walked (about 500 meters) back to the bus stop to catch the last bus of the day back to downtown. The bus driver was very very kind and let me use his cell phone to call every hotel and youth hostel I had in my travel guides and computer printouts. There was no room in the Inns. Ultimately came the end of his route, so I got off, thanked him for kindness (I probably cost him about 20 bucks), and he told me I was very brave. Teehee...

There was a hotel right there, so I went in, and looked at the price. 800F (more than $100, but after calling about 30 hotels with no luck, I'd have taken anything). The receptioniste said there were no rooms. I asked him to show me where I was on the map, he pointed it out, and he asked me to leave. So I asked if I could sit in the lobby long enough to collect/direct myself, and he said no, just wander down the street and look for clusters of cheap hotels, and that my vacation should be an adventure! Then he wouldn't talk to me anymore. He just pointed to the door. So I went north (because that was toward the train station and I figured there would be more up that way) walmking in every hotel I could find just to verify that they were full.

About halfway back to the train station I heard some american giggles behind me. So I turned around and said, "Americans! Help! I got here four hours ago and can't find any place to stay the night!" Then the lovely young Izzy (as in Isadora Duncan the dancer, only she wasn't a Duncan) said they were with a high school EF tour group from northern California (side note... all the French people I meet seem to think I'm either from England or California). They talked to their tour guide, and there was one extra bunk bed in one of the boy's rooms with their group... but not to impose, I asked is there were and rooms left in the hotel... and there was one single. just one. The only free room in all of Nice. And all told with tax and breakfast it cost about 300F (less that $50). So I took it. And because this place is kitch like the keys, I'm staying there again tonight (paying by credit card) just to be safe.

So the moral of the story is: if you don't beleive in miricales and ansered prayer, start. Also, make lodging reservations before ever going to Nice.

It's morning now, so I'm going to go out to the beach in 100°F weather and also see the Marc Chagall and Matisse Museums. Then sometime tomorrow I'm working my way to Munich were the loads of french I've picked up over the past weak will be absolutely useless. But I'm meeting my friend Mike Adams at The Tent. Then we're off to the beer garden, and we'll work our way to Oberammergau, where we'll hopefully get toe see the Passion Play.

Have yourselves a Merry little Thursday.

«Tuesday, June 27, 2000»

7:23 PM... Tonight i will go to sleep by counting the blisters on my feet.

For some reason, I seriously thought that Lyon was a quaint country village of sorts. In fact, it's a frikkin' empire. Second largest city in France. Tons of Roman an Gaulic ruins. Today I got up and instead of taking the ever-confusing bus/métro system (I met my first total jackass Frenchman yesterday: a bus driver who insisted on giving me wrong directions... and I wasn't just a stupid misunderstanding american, I asked him three times three ways to make sure, he really gave me wrong directions.), I walked about today.

I seriously walked about - oh - 7 miles today. In 95°F weather. To show you how much plans change by circumstance, I was originally just going to pass the day here in Lyon yesterday and then take an overnight train to Nice. I wanted to Eat at a petit bouchon and see the Gallo-Roman history museum. But I had indigestion and the museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays to everyone but school groups. And since my friends in Paris told me that it's pretty stupid to just spend a day in Lyon (it's more of a place to have a routine than to sight-see), I decided to stay until tomorrow when the Gallo-Roman culture museum is open and then I'd go to Nice for a few days and then meet up with my friend Rachel in Florence. But I just found out today (because I haven't been able to find an internet place until today) that Rachel isn't getting there until the 4th of July (independence day in Italy, eh?). Apparently rule #1 of European travel is don't make plans. So I might shoot from France straight up to Germany and meet Mike Adams there. Who knows?

But I've had fun here. I might even end up staying another day. Last night I sat up on the roof of the hostel (which rests half-way up a mountin on the far west site of the city; terrible climb but a spectacular view) with Richard, an English fellow. I also spoke with an artist from Luxembourg who is taking a plaster modeling class for his job as a diaramaist for the museum of natural history up there. There was also a young Canadian lady who didn't know where she left her luggage last night, but had to find it, get a train to paris, gather somes demo cassettes (she's a video artists who filmed our entire conversation this morning), take another train to some remote art school in the west side of the country to demo them, go back to Paris for two meetings, and fly to London (en route to Toronto) before 7pm tomorrow. Talk about having crazy travel plans. She told be about an art exhibition of moderns stuff at the Halle Tony Garrier. It was mostly crap and an excuse to put live maggots and dried horse fetuses in a public space, but there was some really good stuff, too. Just not as much. After that I was famished and tried to find a good sandwich with fries, and came really close to just eating at McDonald's because all I found were bread stores and Chinese joints. Ultimately I bought some fruit and a bottle of Fanta (only 9F for a liter... much cheaper than last time i was in France) and ended up eating some pasta, too, with a Mexican girl named Marie at the hostel. Marie looks Mexican, but in fact she was adopted (she's half Irish and half Indian). I love this...

Well, internet access ins't exactly cheap here, and I've been on for a while checking email and whatnot. And everyone around me is playing a French network computer game (I keep hearing this grunting cybervoice yell, "Il faut flash!") and yelling obscenities. And this computer stinks (in fact, I've had to have it restarted three times in the past hour, which I hope he's not going to charge me for - rather, he will not charge me for). Luckily, I was able to save the blog entry as a text file on the desktop before it crashed this last time, so I did,t have to rewrite everything).

Good then. Happy reading....

«Sunday, June 25, 2000»

6:20 PM... Now I've had real French Champaigne (even if I can't spell it correctly). Today was a housewarming party for Grég's godfather (they just built a new house in the Robinson neigborhood south of Paris)... c'était vachement bien. Everyone kept saying that I wasn't a REAL American because I could eat their food and drink their wines (and I refused ketchup for my meat) without hesitation. The youngsters I think wanted to practice their English with me, but were afraid because I was a REAL Ameriacan, and they were too embarassed (but one mustered up the courage to ask me if we had a lot of buildings in the US in franglais). I was mostly lost, but manages to follow a few jokes and carry on what seemed like intelligent conversations about computers, Star Wars, and why Grégoire's hair is long (frikkin' American influence... it was all my fault).

I'll tell you what's funny: eating French pizza. After being accustommed to Amercanized Italian food, it's a little weird to eat Frenchified Italian food. I wonder which is closer tot he real thing. Or if pizza's even really Italian...

Yesterday I went to a used book/music store (les livres et CDs d'occasion) and I bougt a couple Astérix books for myself. When I was little, my mother put some stickers of Astérix and Obélix on my crib, and I think I even had a book or two translated into English (for those who don't know: Astérix et Obélix are French cartoon books for children, but very well-written and are full of puns and philosophic ideas). I found some used ones for about 25F-40F, which is roughly $3.50-$6.00. I got one that was about 40 pages long, and after all night of reading a CHILDREN'S book, I'm still on page 32. But, I don't have a dictionary and I'm not exactly fluent, so it's okay. I also bought two CDs of M.C. Solaar, a French rapper. His lyrics, from what I understand, are also full of puns and clever plays-on-words ("jeux des mots" in French). Very clever the French are. Full of nifty little gimmicks. Here's my try: "Quand tu es bourré, tout est brouillé." ("When you're drunk, everything's blurry"... but it's a toungue-twister. Get it? Just don't try it when drunk... you'll embarass yourself).

Tomorrow, is Opération: Lyon. More to come...

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