Frogs and snails and sugar and spice

A man can get a lot of thinking done while relaxing in a filing cabinet. One of the thoughts that occurred to me was to check my eurail pass status against the rest of the travel days I had planned that included getting back to Paris. Good thing I did, because if I continued at the current pace, my pass days would run out two days short of my planned stay. I was on my way to Avignon in the morning, and had planned to stay two days and make several short out and back trips to ...somewhere. This would be a good time then to get off the pass and pay cash for these trips.

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The Hotel at the End of the Universe

....Arles. After that half-hour or more wait in Paris to purchase the mandatory seat reservation for the TGV high speed trains, I subsequently tried the online service on my rail planner app. I found it to be quite convenient, save for one wrinkle. The bar code where the car and seat assignments are embedded does not convey that information visually. You need a conductor to ping it with his device to find out. On this leg to Arles, I discovered how iffy it was relying on platform staff to perform this service.

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My Lunch With Danielle

The 10:34 to…


 …Toulouse. For starters, the scenery on the southerly swing from Bordeaux to Toulouse improved dramatically over the Paris to Bordeaux leg. Villages with medieval walls and fortresses on hills, broad, winding rivers and handsome, prosperous farmhouses swept past my window. At one point I felt this amazing smile form on my face, coming suddenly out of nowhere. This trainhopping idea was working perfectly, and I was loving every minute of it.

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Danielle (and I'm not making this up)

When I decided to self-publish the journal I’d kept of the time Carolyn and I were first together in 1972, I gave all the real people fictional names. Carolyn’s became Danielle. She liked it. “Very French,” she told me. In these recent years, whenever we fell into conversation about that time in our lives, we called it “visiting Danielle.” In many aspects, from traveling alone to beginning again in Paris, this current trip carried a strong feeling of “visiting Danielle.”  

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Sleepless (and possibly roomless) in Paris

 The French train trip began on a proletarian note. This was good, since Carolyn and I both knew flying as retirees would drop us down in priority on the standby list, and that our Business Class days were all probably behind us. I still got on the flight, and with an aisle seat, I retained unfettered access to the bathrooms. I also felt a greater sense of safety on this first trip without Carolyn: I watched as my seatmate carefully read the entire safety card tucked in the seatback, as we'd all been instructed to do, but that all except her had blissfully ignored doing. 

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Alone again, naturally

As far as traveling alone, it’s the way I’d started out. In June, 1971 I arrived in Paris with less than two hundred dollars in my wallet, and no idea where I would be spending my first night. I treated the city as if it were a Disney theme park. Oblivious of urban dangers I’d be terrified of back home, I meandered the streets of Paris on foot from seven in the morning until ten at night, cheerfully oblivious to all the historic and culturally significant sites and landmarks I passed. At night I’d sit in a café and put down all I had learned in a journal, most of which was a gumbo of proto-emo angst, insecurity, lonesomeness and a struggle to get laid masquerading as a quixotic search for cosmic love.

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