Paris - Ambulances, missed flights, paradise in Tuscany.


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June 6th 2011
Published: June 6th 2011
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Pimped Yammy in ParisPimped Yammy in ParisPimped Yammy in Paris

This very nicely pimped Yamaha siting on a footpath in Paris really caught my eye.
2 June to 6 June Update – Ambulances, missed flights & connections and, paradise.

Spent a really nice evening (Wednesday 1 June) in inner London walking around enjoying the summer evening air (weather had warmed considerably to around 24 degrees). We had a very English dinner in a very English pub. A lovely end to our week in Britain. Got the EuroStar very fast train to Paris this morning. The channel section took just 20 minutes and was extremely under-whelming except for the knowledge that we were trundling some 100 metres below sea level at around 150-200km/h. Quite an engineering feat when you think about it.

Katie got a little over-whelmed when we arrived at Gare Du Nord train station in Paris. It’s a busy place and we got pounced on (well not literally), by beggars )or more correctly scammers) using various methods to try and extract funds from us. Must admit I wasn’t expecting that and it seemed to cause Kate some grief. (Thought our trip to Vietnam a couple of years back would have cured her of that!!)

Once we found and checked into our little 2 star room, we wandered the streets avoiding traffic which was all driving on the wrong side of the road. I tried to get a wireless network dongle for the laptop, but was told that whatever I buy will only work in France and not the rest of Europe. So, given we have 2 nights here only, I’ll wait till Italy. Pity this worldwide form of communication is so localised in its economic application. A world wide travelling web access system (for the travelling laptop) would make a top seller methinks.

The Parisians have been friendly, albeit there is the odd scammer about and we’ve said nothankyouverymuch a few times this arvo. Beware being enticed into cafés for outrageously expensive lunches. We got a little stung (we had just arrived and were hungry) and paid too much for what was served up – but no matter, that’s travelling hey? Again, we’re wiser now. Ooooh but there’s lots of interesting and luverly motorbikes here!!!

Day 2 in Paris….was busy. We jumped on one of those kitschy but informative double deck (roofless) buses and toured the main sights. Kate and I wanted to see the Eiffel tower so we got off there and stood and gawked at its intricate and
Villa Clara - LuccaVilla Clara - LuccaVilla Clara - Lucca

View from our bedroom window this morning.
complex matrix of steel girders and rivets (about 2.5 million of them I think I heard). I was impressed with this thing. Even by today’s standards it’s impressive. It must have been quite something in its day. It certainly dominates the skyline. We traipsed around for around 6 hours before heading back to our little hotel and collapsed in an exhausted heap before heading out for a street-side cafe dinner in the balmy Parisian summer evening heat. Kate had been complaining of a bit of nausea and abdominal pain during the day, and this continued later that night.

Today – (Sat 4th June) Kate deteriorated suddenly while we were on the train to Charles De Gaulle airport… complaining of intense abdominal pain and nausea. We made it to the airport terminal whereupon she began to vomit and was obviously in a lot of discomfort. We approached Lufthansa’s customer service people (Katie had collapsed in front of the counter) who were fantastic. They (Beatrice ….) advised that the Doctor was in another terminal but they would call the fire brigade to help with first aid administration initially. They turned up in about 4 minutes with all their medical stuff and
Villa Clara - LuccaVilla Clara - LuccaVilla Clara - Lucca

View from my couch as I upload these images.
even tho English didn’t feature, we muddled through it. They were efficient, friendly and allayed our fears of any imminent problems, however they were concerned enough to call an ambulance to take Kate (and us) to the medical centre which was only about 10 mins drive away. We were concerned with possible appendicitis or kidney stones. The Doctor eventually discounted both (although could not guarantee…) and gave us the all clear to fly. He diagnosed a severe and acute tummy bug and prescribed a swag of drugs and other concoctions to deal with the symptoms.

We have nevertheless missed our flight. Lufthansa put us on a later flight (without us having to even request it!!) leaving some 5 hours later. This means we would miss our scheduled rail connection from Milan to Lucca (4 hour trip) but there are other trains we should be able to pick up. We’ll just arrive later in the night. I can’t stress enough how good the staff at Lufthansa, the firies and the ambos were. Brilliant.

So, we’ll see what comes. This is what travel is all about I guess – the adventure only begins when things stop going to plan, and the plans for today have been upended. When you look at all the positives, it’s been interesting. We got to meet some very nice fire-crew (Margie seemed to enjoy that bit especially), Kate had her first ride in an Ambulance – albeit a French one. The Ambulance was brand new very shiny and had lots of things that went “BING” that no amount of button pushing by the bemused crew could stop. They shrugged and admitted they were still learning how to use it (the Ambulance). The Ambos had not one word of English, but the universal language of gestures and smiles always seems to work out. I think Margie in particular found the French fire crew and ambos to be good eye candy and wanted me to take pictures, which of course, I didn’t!

I’m typing this while we wait the 5 hours for our next flight, sitting in one of the many cafes at CDG airport. Kate is sleeping soundly on a comfy couch, and, considering our current position of transit – things are going fine.

Or not…. Shortly after typing the bit above, we were told by our Lufthansa friends that there was a “technical
Villa Clara - LuccaVilla Clara - LuccaVilla Clara - Lucca

Outside it's a big box among beautiful grounds.
problem” with our jet and it would be delayed leaving by 4 hours. Oh joy. What this meant was that we now missed any chance of making Lucca via train and we would be forced to find somewhere to stay in Milano. Not always easy during peak season. Our plane subsequently left at 6 pm, some 9 hours after our original booked flight. We landed in Milan at 7.15 and by the time we cleared baggage and Customs it was 8.00 clock in the evening. The trains to Milano Centrale ran every hour, and took 45 minutes for the journey. We had just missed the train to Milano and so were now looking at an hours wait for the next one, a further 45 minutes on it making for a 10pm arrival in Milano to start looking for somewhere to stay….

There happened to be a very new, shiny and expensive looking Sheraton hotel attached to the Milano airport (the airport is a long way out of Milan as you may have gathered) and we decided to try them. I took a deep breath and asked if they might have a room available and what might the rates be.
Villa Clara - LuccaVilla Clara - LuccaVilla Clara - Lucca

Our neighbours
A friendly young lady said “no problemo” for a room, and 130 Euro for the double + 50 Euro for Katie. “Done” I said. Turns out they didn’t have the extra bed so the rate was 130 Euro and they were happy to let Kate share for nix. The room was very plash, the bed was king size so plenty of room, and Katie was sooooo excited to have such luxury after our little 2 star rooms we had been staying in. I gotta say – Italy is waaaay cheaper than UK and France.

So we slept soundly anticipating a nice early start to make Milano central station to catch the 8.0clock train to Lucca. We made the station but couldn’t find our scheduled trains (2 changes were required originally) on any of the time tables. IT WAS SUNDAY!!!

The only way we were going to make Lucca that day was via a milk-run of trains (3) stopping at every station in the region. We weren’t going to get to Lucca till 7pm that night according to the (fairly unhelpful) Trainitalia official!!

I texted this news to the rest of the mob who were already happily enjoying Villa Clara and Richard phoned me back and told me- if we can get ourselves to Bologna, he’ll drive to pick us up. A 2 hour drive each way. So this is what we did. It took us 2 hours to make Bologna and Richard and Mum were there as we arrived. At last things were back on track.

So here we are!

As I type this bit of the update, I’m sitting in this extraordinarily beautiful 200+ year old Villa looking out at the beautiful Tuscan countryside, most of the other mob have gone off to visit Florence and some have gone for a drive. I’m very much enjoying the peace and tranquillity of this place and the fact that we can now stay in one place for the next 6 days.

Ciao.



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Villa Clara - LuccaVilla Clara - Lucca
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Kate's friend.
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Dining Room (there are 20 of us here)
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Leaving for Paris on the Eurostar. This sculpture dominates somewhat...
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Becoming seasoned travelers
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Was a comfortable trip even tho we were traveling cattle class.
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Morbikes and scooters EVERYWHERE!! Joy.
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All sorts
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Speaks for itself
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Lots of photos of this big aerial. VERY IMPRESSIVE!
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Our bedroom in the Villa. Not too shabby!!


8th June 2011

Slumming it
Good to see you're slumming it in Lucca

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