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Winging it “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” - Martin Buber, Philosopher

France

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 31 January 2011 | Views [547]

We now start the planned segment of the holiday where both Paige and I are supposed to leave England and travel by train to Paris. Seeing as I couldnt enter the UK, my last 4 weeks have been a very fantastic 'plan B' roaming over Europe instead (tough life!). Paige's lovely friend had given her a fabulous gift of 'real' hotel accommodation, a stark contrast to our usual backpacker dives. I arrived from Belgium around lunch and was so delighted by the room and beautiful clean bathroom that I made myself completely at home, you know: throw clothes all over room, long luxurious bath, wash hair, shave legs, etc. I then ventured forth and found a supermarket to get some cheese, bread and wine along with an assortment of other tasty snacks to celebrate being in Paris. It was quite a sanctuary and made a great home base for the few days we were there, up until the night we (and by this I mean 'I') trash the room by dropping red wine on the cream carpet!

We had a couple of things lined up, one to go to the Moulin Rouge which was a very glossy cabaret show and lots of fun. The other was to go to Disneyland. We raced in like excited kids chosing to go to the Movie park first and lined up immediately for the 'Tower of Terror'. ...And waited. ...For an hour. It was freezing and we were stuck behind a guy who smoked *gag* but we hung in there and I have to say, the ride was FANTASTIC!!! based on the Twilight zone movie, you were escorted into tho hotel and out to a service elevator which sent you on gravity defying drops between floors. It was a great show and brilliantly presented but the wait killed us! The rest of the park was a bit lame as we were reluctant to queue for more rides and so it consisted of wandering into buildings and looking at 'stuff'. Call me a cynic, but it seemed like one giant gift shop. I was torn between wanting to buy something and wanting to eat something. The other park was much more interresting for wandering, especially the Swiss family Robinson's treehouse and we also went on some kid rides which had short queues like Guipettos (Pinochios) workshop train and the teacup ride from Alice in Wonderland. We finally figured out how to make the wait for the rides more bearable by using fasttrack and finished with a rollercoaster 'Mountain trek', a great way to end the day.

Our next destination was Barcelona, having bought tickets for the sleeper train and after a day of wandering the galleries we head to the station. All was going well for a few hours until Paige became violently ill and although we managed to beg a private room from the hostess for about 10 minutes, the conductor was angry about this and wanted us to return to the shared room. The guy was most unforgiving and virtually kicked us off the train at 2am in the middle of nowhere! I was tired beligerantly told him that we would not get off the train if there was no ambulance and they assured us that one would be waiting. It was absolutely freezing on the platform and all poor Paige could do was puke her guts up in the nearest bin. When I realise that there was no ambulance only the station guard I turn back to see the conductor peering out the door of the train, he merely shrugs, closes the doors and leaves! dog fuckers!

The station guard is very sweet however and though he had limited English and we virtually no French, he was very compassionate. Communication proved to be an interesting barrier with the ambulance guys as well as the medics in the hospital but through a curious medly of hybrid Italian, French and English as well as some highly offensive mime, I managed to get the history of presenting complaint across. It was now about 4 in the morning in Mountauban, Paige was stable and they were ready to discharge us. I was feeling a little defeated by this stage and said 'we have no-where to go'! They found us a hotel around the corner which was good of them and Paige just crashed out and slept for 2 days. I spent the time trying to figure out how to get out of the place with confusing train websites and contradicting timetables and tourist beaureau closing for extended siestas. I finally found a tourist guy who not only helped with finding the timetable but rang the information desk (which was all in French) and got detailed info- I was so happy I thought he was an angel. With that sorted I could finally go and enjoy the town and what a serendipitous turn of fate it was to end up here! It is so beautiful you could just ramble forever with inviting little paths, a long and fascinating history and some great art bombing by 'space invader'. I loved it and although it was small, I felt it was a place that you could really make your home.

On to Toulouse then flying to Morocco!!!

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