The Next Four Days of France

Friday, February 29th, 2008

I’m on the end of an annoying flu that’s made the last three days a little slower and sleepier than I’d hoped. We arrived in Barcelona two days ago. I’ll be doing a post about here soon. How Paris finished out:

Day 4: February 23th

The fourth day in Paris began with a delicious blue cheese and walnut quiche with side salad. C. and I had met a friend of his for lunch at a quiet cafe by the river. Afterward, we took an epic walk to find the Paris sewers. By the time we reached the entrance it was closed. Substituting one brown water for another, we grabbed some coffee in a park. Three young professionals and three expensive coffees leads to some passionate people watching and discussion of international issues and videogames.

That evening I was slaughtered again in Catan. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, other than losing. Maybe my new strategy should be to win.

A building with the wall covered in non ivy plants. The future?

A fountain during the walk back from the park.

An egyptian ding dong type thing near the fountain.

Arc de Triumph in the distant evening traffic.

Day 5: February 24th

Upon waking, we promptly went to the sewers. The area free to explore was smaller than I hoped, but interesting enough. Flowing streams of brown liquid were crossed by honeycomb metal bridges. The area must have been better ventilated than the off limits sewers, as it smelled more of moisture than excreta. Roped off were endlessly echoing dark chambers leading out under the real city. If I was an urban adventurer, I’d sneak off into on of those tunnels.

One of the main rooms on the tour.


Cool tunnel.

A large ball used to unclog the pipes. Balls of varying sizes are used for this purpose.


I won’t get into the history of the Paris, but for a long time it was a pretty shitty situation. It’s surprising how recently it was that seemingly obvious levels of sanitation weren’t in effect. I wonder how future generations will regard us as fools.

After the sewers, we found some average pho soup. The atmosphere of the restaurant was great, however. An old man sitting nearby was trying to cut open a durian with a cleaver. The owner was trilingual and very talkative. By coincidence, he had a brother that lives in southern California. A Vietnamese immigrant in southern California? Seemed unlikely, but I let it slide.

In the evening I started getting sick. I bought some lemons and honey to make life affirming drinks. In hindsight, the lemon water probably did nothing, and the extra honey just ended up spilling all over my backpack.

Day 6: February 25th

The day began at 6:30. We woke and got on the subway to catch a high speed train to a town two hours south of Paris called Valence. C. has a friend named M. from work who was visiting his mother’s house over the weekend, and it seemed like a good opportunity for food, lodging, and scenery we would have missed otherwise.

The train. Quiet but not deadly.

The house we stayed at.

M.’s mother offered us a local specialty sausage as a snack.

Lunch consisted of avocado bread, herby terrine, rice, squash,

and delicious fresh rabbit stew.

After lunch, we drove to the ruins of a local mountaintop castle. It’s the tallest point in the photo if you can’t see it.

A better view from the trailhead.

Ancient lawn mowers tending to the grass.



C. and M.

Some of the surviving structure was built onto the steep hillside overlooking the valley.

After a nice flu weakened hike on a mountain, I crashed early and let my fever carry me to sleep.

Day 7: February 26th

Our second and last day in Valence was fairly uneventful, in a good way.

After breakfast, we visited a family that lives on an enormous 200 year old property. They served homemade cherry wine and pretzels.

After a lunch I didn’t have much appetite for, M. dropped us off at the train station and we began the 7 hour journey to Barcelona. Because of my flu, I desperately wanted to sleep on the train, but there was no comfort to be found in the Franco era seats. I entered into a zombie-like state for the trip, neither asleep nor awakeÐremembering nothing except a glimpse of the sea and the border check.

The Barcelona train station at 11PM.

Time to sleep. Buenos noches!

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