Soul sucker


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Europe » France
September 14th 2009
Published: September 30th 2017
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Crappy bunk bed - there's very little head room for the bottom bunk.
Geo: 48.8566, 2.35097

The last day of the trip ... sigh ... like most other trips, it started the same way as other final days - with me crying and screaming like a little baby, and the hostel staff having to drag me out of bed and throw me out into the streets. Luckily for me, I was able to sneak back in and have some breakfast.

Crappy croissants, ok coffee, cereal, bread, etc ... nothing special, but enough to get the day going. Got in some final Spanish practice for the trip, sitting with a lady from Madrid and one from Argentina. They left shortly after I sat down, which seems to be a common occurrence with myself and Spanish-speaking women 😞

A family from the UK took their places - a mother and her two teenage sons. Quite the well-traveled kids - one had been volunteering in Africa, the other working at a camp in the States, and had used the money he earned to travel around there for a while. Sounds like it's been something the parents have encouraged in them from a young age.

I managed to dodge the hostel staff and sneak back up to my room to pack
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Goodbye, my friend - it was time to part ways with my trusty bottle of cough syrup. I'd take it home with me, but the cap has started to leak, so taking it on a plane with the low air pressure is just asking for trouble.
- Brent told me that he was reading early this morning, and he dropped his book through the gap between the bunk bed and the wall. He hoped that it didn't land on me, but he said at least it was at the foot of the bed, so it shouldn't have landed on my head. I told him it was no big deal, and that it actually would've been ok had it landed on my head, if it happened to be a Playboy, opened to the centrefold. That wouldn't be such a bad way to be awakened.

The plan for this morning was to head over to the Champs-Elysees, but I noticed on the map how close Sacre Coeur in Montmartre was, so this became the first stop of the day. The only other time I've been here it was dull and grey, so any photos I took were converted to black and white. Not this time - the sky was a beautiful blue, something I haven't seen much of in Paris before.

A lot of dumb asses here run a bracelet scam, where they approach you and ask to show you a bracelet, which they tie tightly on your wrist.
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Travel toothbrush with a convenient case to keep it clean - I used to just throw my conventional toothbrush into the bottom of my toiletry bag, where it would inevitably start to get gross and end up with things stuck to it. Yech ... much cleaner this way!
Once they do that, they tell you how much it costs, making you feel obligated to buy it, because getting it off is quite difficult without cutting it. Most people pony up, because they feel guilty.

I saw a bunch of these dumb asses milling about, one of them calling to me, and I ignored him. He quickly approached me and grabbed me by the arm - this never ceases to PISS me off!!! Unless this is Spain, and unless you are a beautiful little brunette named Cinthia, Claudia, Elena, Eva, or Isabel, do NOT touch me!!! But if you are, you can touch me all you want 😊

As soon as he grabbed my right arm, I stopped dead in my tracks, raised the back of my right hand directly in front of his face and firmly shouted "Do not touch me!!!" He let go and backed off. I hate scammers like this, who prey on tourists. Get a life! I know they're trying to earn a living, but there are tons of vendors who work tourist sites like this, working very hard to earn very little. But at least they do it by selling something that people actually want,
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View of Paris, looking down from Montmartre. In roughly the middle of the picture, you can see La Tour Montparnasse.
not by scamming them into buying something they don't want or don't need.

After Sacre Coeur, it was off to the Champs-Elysees, in search of some souvenirs, and for a nice stroll. I headed over to the Mercedes dealership - surprisingly, they had apparel and memorabilia from its various racing teams, but nothing from Formula One! Perhaps it's because their car sucks this year.

Time for a snack at Laduree - a famous Parisian cafe that I've never had the chance to visit during previous Paris trips. Finally, it happened today! It's famous for its chocolat chaud, hot chocolate described by some guidebooks as being "liquid gold". The restaurant part of Laduree was reserved for those wanting a full breakfast, which I wasn't into having already eaten, and also because the prices were INSANE!

They had a little bar where I could have a hot chocolate and on my way in, saw that they had pain au chocolat with pistachios in their patisserie! I've never seen any variation on pain au chocolat before, so I absolutely HAD to try one. But unfortunately, it wasn't possible to get one in the bar area, which I really couldn't understand, since a regular pain
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Sacre Coeur - I ended up taking about 10-15 different shots of it today. I think this was the best.
au chocolat was readily available, and it was only a matter of walking 10' to grab one with pistachio. Kind of stupid, in a way - another guy also asked for one but was also rejected. Oh well ... maybe next time in Paris!

A bit more shopping along the Champs-Elysees, then off to Rue Cler to pick up some lunch picnic. The plan was to bring a picnic to the Champ de Mars, and sit in the shadow of the Eiffel tower. As I approached the tower, I remembered that I have never returned to the Trocadero, so instead had the picnic there.

The day had started with much walking and after lunch, the day finished with much more walking - down Rue Rivoli, and an unplanned jaunt through the Tuileries, which was so sunny and beautiful when the sun was out, that it was impossible not to pop in. Naoual had suggested that I have a drink on Canal St. Martin if it was sunny, because it's a very popular spot with locals. But the clouds were rolling in, so I decided against it, as it was supposed to only be good if the sun was shining. The day
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The bracelet scammers lying in wait, for unsuspecting tourists to prey on.
finished with some shopping at the Forum Les Halles. All in all, it was a long and tiring day.

Back to the hostel to pick up my backpack, and it was off to the airport - in a bit of a rush, I didn't have time to pick up any food before boarding the train. Luckily, I had the chance to buy a big bottle of water beforehand, because it was HOT on board - packed with people leaving work and heading back home, out to the suburbs. Funny moment - there was a South African couple on the train, with the husband complaining about how much his wife packed. "Next time we're packing ony a g-string!"

Charles de Gaulle Airport - for some strange reason, it feels like I've visited this airport before, though I'm almost positive I've never been here. Maybe it's just deja vu. I checked in, only to find that the flight had been canceled, due to mechanical problems - the plane we were supposed to take was coming from Vancouver, from where it hadn't even departed. We were all to be put up in a hotel nearby for the night, and catch an early flight
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A couple that had just fallen for the scam.
out.

I'll never complain about extending the vacation for a day, even if it means having a night out in the middle of nowhere. Given the volume of people on the flight, I had hoped that they would run out of rooms and tell me "Sorry, but we're going to have to put you in a dorm room where the Spanish women's national pillow fighting team is staying, and conducting an all night practice." A man can dream, can't he?

On the bus ride from the airport to the hotel, some extremely self-absorbed, money-hungry lady sat next to me. She was pissed off at the delay, which is understandable, but all I heard was yapping about "I'm a contractor and am losing SO much money by not working tomorrow. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah! I'm never flying Air Transat again! Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah!" Sorry lady but if you're all that rich, you wouldn't be flying a low-end charter airline like Air Transat!

I managed to switch the direction of the conversation to the point of her trip, and actually got some decent information about Corsica. Long on my list of places to visit, perhaps
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A discarded scammer bracelet.
meeting this lady is a sign that I need to hurry up and visit Corsica. Because I really can't say meeting this lady added anything to my life, only sucked away a bit of my soul, so hopefully some good can come of it!

The hotel is actually pretty decent, a business-class place. Dinner wasn't scheduled to be served until late, probably because we had slammed the place, even with several hours of notice of the flight cancellation. I killed time before dinner by watching music videos, watching the Spanish-language channel, cutting my toe nails, and washing a pair of undies, since I didn't account for the extra day tomorrow. An exciting evening out in the boonies! I had asked the receptionist if there was a nearby town I could walk to, and was told 'Yes ... but there is nothing interesting there, not even a bar." In comparison, toe nails and undies sound like a blast!

I ended up sitting with a couple from Calgary, who tired of the rat race and moved out to Victoria a few years ago. Nice, friendly, and people who seem to realize that happiness is about following your dreams, and not defined by
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People sell souvenirs and trinkets at all the tourist sights, to eke out a living. But these people do so WITHOUT scamming anybody.
the number of zeros in your pay cheque, these are the type of people that make traveling worthwhile, when you have the good fortune to meet them. Unlike a certain other soul sucker encountered earlier today ...

Anyway, I completely forgot their names, but they'd just done a tour of Italy, France, and one of my faves, Croatia. Hearing them talk about Dubrovnik made me eager to return - next summer, anyone? We also got on the subject of Zadar, and it's sea organ - a pretty cheesy attraction, but it was nice to see that someone else thought it was as amazing as I did! See blog entry entitled "Am I hearing things, or is the sea speaking to me?" http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/europe_2006/1157013960/tpod.html

Though they did bring up something I don't remember - apparently there was a large digital display near the sea organ, on the ground. When you step on it, visual effects are created. I think I've found yet another reason to visit Croatia again, beyond the gorgeous Adriatic Sea, beautiful scenery, and gorgeous Croatian women. Just for reference, on my list of "Countries with the most beautiful women", of course Spain is #1, Argentina/Uruguay are tied for #2, and
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Arc de Triomphe.
Croatia, The Netherlands, and Poland are close behind in a tie for #3.

Some OK wine was served with dinner, and the starter was a prosciutto and cheese salad - not too bad, though the balsamic dressing was a bit too sweet. The main course was salmon, served with a cream sauce and some very bad,mushy veggies. Dessert was a choice between chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, and some fruit salad. The starter and desserts weren't bad, but the main course wasn't so hot.

After dinner, a guy stood up and said he wanted to make a toast - he gestured to a couple sitting across from him, and said that his best friend and his fiancee were supposed to get married tomorrow. With the delay, they weren't sure how it was going to happen. Ok ... I had my doubts, because I saw the groom at the airport with his buddy, and the bride at the airport with her friend, and the two sets of friends certainly didn't seem to know each other.

After people began scattering for the evening, they started calling people over. People started asking them details of what happened, and something definitely wasn't right. When someone
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Death wish - this guy was standing in the middle of the Champs-Elysees, one of Paris' busiest thoroughfares, in order to get a shot of the Arc. He managed to run off the street only moments before traffic reached his spot. How stupid can you be?
asked how they met, the truth finally came out - they had only met today, and the guy's friend decided to play a big joke. The female half of the Victoria couple looked a little distraught that
they had perpetrated this type of joke, probably because she seems like a bit of an idealist. For a pessimistic realist like myself, I just went "Meh, whatever!"

A practical joke about a fake wedding ... how wrong is that? What kind of person would do something like that? Hmmm ... see blog entry entitled "Surprise! We got 'Mary-ed'!" http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/euro-2007/1189018680/tpod.html

The two sets of friends kept drinking wine, going around looking for the half-empty bottles scattered about. I went back to the room to relax. Some European artist named Milow re-made 50 Cent's "Ayo Technology", and I'm sorry to say that I watched the video while cutting my toenails. Sorry, but that being such a horrid song, how could anyone be inspired to re-make it? It's an acoustic version, and I couldn't decide which was more terrible. Shockingly, the re-make hit #1 in the Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany. I still can't comprehend the motivation behind it ... it's like finding a steaming pile of dog
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The Peugeot dealership - though it was undergoing renovations, it appeared to still be open for business, so I went in. After browsing for a few minutes, I was approached by a lady asking if I worked there - nope, I don't! And it turns out it was closed, after all. Oops ... too bad, because I did see some things I wanted to buy.
crap on the sidewalk, and trying to turn it into a chocolate cake!


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Peugeot is known for cars, but also makes some of the best pepper mills.
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The Renault dealership - Formula One car, probably from the glory days, a few years ago when they actually won races.
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The interior of Laduree's little bar was incredible - as good as the hot chocolate was, a big part of the overall experience was enjoying the beautiful location. You definitely end up paying for that, as things are not cheap here - it's nice to have a splurge experience occasionally while traveling, and it's not something I'd do every day. It's another reason I don't mind the scuzzy hostels - whatever I save on accommodations can be put toward things like this. It was quite the experience having a snack at Laduree - it's something that uses all your senses - sight, sound, smell, taste, touch.
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Laduree's famous hot chocolate - you have to add your own sugar to the hot chocolate, but sadly, I ended up adding a little too much, making it a bit too sweet. But still, it was incredibly rich and delicious, a phenomenal drink. It was almost as thick as the hot chocolate that Spaniards dip their churros in, but not chunky like the Spanish make it - it was exceptionally velvety. But dipping churros into this liquid gold would be pure sacrilege. This was probably the most elegant hot chocolate ever conceived by man; the only thing more elegant I can think of is a certain Aussie girl I met in Barcelona :) The pain au chocolat was a bit of a disappointment - it was very flaky and good, but not incredible like the hot chocolat was. I've definitely had many that were better, over the years.
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If I could've, I would've stuck my head in the little pitcher and licked every last remaining molecule of this heavenly hot chocolate.
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Laduree is also famous for macarons - but at 2.10 euro for each tiny one, I didn't think it was worth it. But of course, this just leaves something to look forward to the next time in Paris!
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Such a classy and elegant place, I drag it down, sitting there with my daypack in my lap, and my travel towel hanging on the outside so that it can dry. Classy!
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The river Seine on a sunny day, with a beautiful blue sky.
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Place du Canada!!! And you'll never gues what I found here ...


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