Archive for 14th June 2007

Archive

An accidental Tourist in Amsterdam

I missed the flight back back because of a delay in the Paris airport having something to do with radar failure that caused all planes departing CDG Paris to be delayed by 2 hours. Incompetent fools. I reached Amsterdam cursing and swearing hard after seeing the word ‘departed’ for my flight status – more infuriatingly so, the KLM/Air France service desk refused any more help other than rebooking the flight back home 24 hours later, stating baldly that it was the fault of the Paris Airport and not theirs. Realised that there were 3 other people (unfortunately French) who also missed the same plane, and like unwilling stragglers who needed to bond quick,...

Paris Revisited

The ticks on my list indicate that all that I think are necessary sights have been ‘covered’; it is naturally the most artificial (not to mention superficial) of lists a visitor of a place can make. At every turn, there are tourists; nearly everyone gets caught up in everything French. Even the Americans attempt to say Bonjour, Bonsoir and Merci reasonably well before lapsing into the familiar curled r’s. The city spirals out in a roughly circular fashion, and I walk for a long time, only to get the Eiffel tower back in view again after crossing one of the numerous bridges. The sunny day makes the scene more inviting;...

Going Au Naturale

My place on the TGV to Nantes is next to a French lady who teaches English to high school students, and we abruptly fall into conversation after I stutter a nervous “Anglais?” while stumbling into the seat. The 2 hours fly by La Loire en route to Angers St. laud and Nantes; soon enough we arrive in Nantes with a neck ache acquired from the awkward chatting position on the train. The French lady helpfully translates the conversation that is going around us – a man a few seats in front speaks loudly on his mobile, predicting wrongly that we would arrive early; a woman travels for the first time...

Viva la France

I arrived in the touted “City of Lights” by the Eurostar in the mid-afternoon heat engulfed by an all-encompassing smog which made it a bit hard to breathe. So goes the secret of the shrouding mist that creates the accidental romantic ideal of Paris – it does make for good photos though. Just as it is daunting to write about London, it is no less for Paris. What can be said that has not been said in countless novels and other travelogues?   Paris is massive, dirty and sprawling (tourists crawl every available space unfortunately) – it is as though the French Kings competed to build palaces after palaces using...

The Tale of a Country Bumpkin

I came, and saw (Les Miserables at West End with John Owen-Jones a.k.a. God) and fell into raptures. Bought the Les Miz ticket at Queen’s Theatre Box Office and got a restricted view but first-row seat, with some of the set reaching past the few rows. Call it a true experience when you get to see the much more than the going-on in the foreground. I was close enough to claw him into erotic submission each time “God” sang, but decided to restrain myself at the last minute for fear of losing some dignity. I think the compelling force of the Les Miserables story (besides John Owen Jones who actually...

The Brouhaha of Brugge

Yet another day trip to Brugge, and as the travel guides promised, that place is overhyped and insanely touristy. I reached there smack in the mid-morning of the weekend and a bustling market was already in place selling mostly old women’ clothing, lace, hardware and other bric-a-bracs. The lace shops are undoubtedly tourist traps but also hark back to the era when Brugge was a textile powerhouse, and lace was one of the many materials that merchants dabbled in during its heyday. I was momentarily outraged that I had to pay a good dollar for a map, but the soothing nature of the girl in the tourist office helped take...

A day in Antwerp

The foray in Antwerp began from the impressively massive Antwerpen Centraal Train station, a masterpiece unto itself. They are still expanding it to add more shops in its staggering 3-5 storey-high building, with train platforms nearly on each level. The distance of about a km and a half paves the way from the central station to the historic core (Grote Markt) is a massive pedestrian vein known as the “Meir” of shops ranging from the kitsch to the large department stores. Antwerp is known for its avant-garde designers and has since become a shopping magnet for hard core shoppers. I walked around the historic centre for a while, and wondered how...