Last day in paris

Craig
France
October 02, 2003

   I never told you what happened that last day in Paris. Well I neglected to confirm with Katia that her cellphone was receiving my text messages. So it wasn't until I returned to an internet cafe and emailed her that she knew I was waiting in Champs de Mars (the park at the foot of the Eiffel Tower) until 3pm when I had to catch my train to Calais for the ferry that night. She got the email and both her and her sister came and found me. Sometime earlier I had realised that my choice of clothes probably wasn't the greatest. Blue jeans, white shirt and the red scarf from Pamplona (movie 3.9mb). I hope the locals didn't think I was making fun of them. The three of us walked around near the tower for quite a while, discussing the various places we have seen and what we do at the moment. I mentioned that I hardly saw any of France and there is now a possibility of a joint trip to the Loire Valley next spring, depending on work and study requirements. I love having friends in exciting places (NZ included).



best wishes from
   Craig
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  29 Sep
03
 

   Micheal is my penfriend set up by Ringmer Community College about 9 years ago. Last night I stayed with him and his girlfriend just outside the city of Paris in what is basically a suburb of it now. We talked, but mostly in English coz my French is still terrible. His mother came to visit his new flat and we all had some really nice little chocolate muffins she baked. mmm home cooking again. In the evening the three of us drove out to Sacre Coeur which I could see from the first hostel I stayed in during my stay 10 weeks ago but never visited. A big church on a hill basically, and a pretty nice one to boot.

Michael Melanie Craig
Michael, Melanie and I at the church

   Michael is a writer for a daily newspaper here in Paris and his article last week got him a lot of attention, even interviewed on national radio. Their flat is decorated with lots of photos of the couple together but amongst them all I saw a magazine article on them. How cool is that? Living in an apartment in Paris, published daily and appearing in '20ans' has a young-and-hip couple. I'm jealous.


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   Craig
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  28 Sep
03
 

   Yes I made it back to Paris. After seeing a couple of friends here I am going to wrap this leg of my journey up with a ferry back to England and by Tuesday afternoon I'll be back in Brighton. But what then? Perhaps I will start planning my return trip. Two travellers in Hotel Mar-Mar were discussing Jack Kerouac's 'On the Road', which I recognised from the way the Londoner was describing the difference between Jack's time and ours. I haven't read the book but I sure will now. That evening I got talking with Jenna about a road trip across The States, and I'm set on the idea. Anyone wanna come?


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   Craig
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Bastille Day

Craig
France
July 15, 2003

   I stayed on the Eiffel Tower that night until well after sunset. The full moon was on one side and the fading light was on the other. A very magical time, no wonder all the couples headed for the top stood around holding each other close. It was just a little lonely being probably the only solo traveller at the top, but what a great view.

   Earlier that day I had walked right across town, probably coming to about 22km. My feet are still hurting a bit, but Norway is my goal so I must continue. On Sunday I moved across to another hostel, The Three Ducks. Which is a bit of a pit, but in a friendly way. Quite noisy and very busy. There I met another long distance hiker. Scott (Canada) is a serious long distance walker, he is about to start some mammoth trek across Europe totalling about 880 miles, well out of my league. He introduced me to five girls from the states and along with Barry and Alex we went to the Fireman's Ball. Every year on July 13th fire houses across Paris invite the public to have a big party in their halls (or in this case a courtyard). A great party except for the firemen who kept getting on the bar to take their shirts off. I bet that was their main motivation for the whole party idea in the first place.

   Without much sleep Barry and I set off for the parade in the morning. Due to closed subway stations and crowd control we were walking along a side street when the first fly over happened, between buildings we could see the coloured smoke trails and some big planes whizz past. The parade itself was mostly army stuff which didn't interest me, but we both tried to climb trees for a better view anyway. We even got on top of a tourist information booth :-), but we were told to come down pretty quickly :-(

   I walked back to my previous hostel to retrieve my NZ power adapter and by the time I got there was desperately dehydrated having misjudged the distance and heat

   That night I went to dinner with Kate, Emily, Jen, Connie, Nicole, Crisha and Klare, mmmm chinese food mmmm. A few joined and a few left by the time we got to the Eiffel Tower in time for the big fireworks display. It didn't start until well after 11 but when it did it was very cool. The crowd was unusually quiet, expect for when it got really pretty. I took a ton of photos that have just been burned to CD and have managed to upload one here. It's big, but nice.

   I am wasting my day away in Paris until my train leaves tonight for Copenhagen and then I am going on to Olso and then Jotunheimen Park.

   Oh, last night I met Holland, a fellow Pamplona survivor. He has been to Greece, and told me about Santorini. It seems as though it will be everything I imagined, I can't wait!


Now in full motion video watch as the Effiel Tower sparkles in the night. (3.7mb)



Me, Kate, Nicole, Emily, Chrisha, Jen, Klare and Connie


best wishes from
   Craig
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  12 Jul
03
 

I am on the second floor of the tower right now, will stay for sun set. Expensive net up here, must go


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   Craig
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  11 Jul
03
 

   I made it to Paris, despite the best efforts of the Spanish. I had to take a taxi from Irun(Spain) to Hendeya (France) in order to catch the 23:15 train to Paris. On the train I managed to have a decent conversation with a guy who spoke only French. I told him about running with the bulls and he told me about getting to Gare du Nord to head for Norway

   I arrived this morning, feeling like a victim of a cruel sleep deprivation experiment. I got my way to Gare du Nord and book a ticket on tonight's train to Copenhagen. Seeing as it doesn't leave until 9pm tonight I have time to waste and took a bus to the Eiffel Tower. On the way I saw the huge seating arrangements for Bastille Day (July 14th) and it has got me thinking about staying. I am going to contact my french penfriend and see if they want to meet up, then organise a place to stay, then cancel the train ticket. I can do Norway next week.


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   Craig
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La Rochelle

Craig
France
July 08, 2003

   Monday morning the weather looked good, and following the instructions from the hostel I made my way in to town and then on to ile de Re, a 30km island just 3km offshore and surrounded by good sand beaches. As I walked along in the shallow water, wistfully staring out across the Atlantic, I was approached by one of the four girls from the bus, "Are you travelling alone?", "yes I am", "where are you from".....

   We walked along comparing New Zealand and Norway and talking about Jotunheimen which is the next major stop on my tour and where two of the girls go regularly. One of them even has a cabin up there, very cool. They left to find a shop and I walked along further for a swim. When it came to be my turn to find lunch I discovered I was a really long way from the shops so I took the beach route to the market and tried a cross-island route to get back to the water. Once again my internal compass was on the fritz and although I came out at exactly the right point on the beach that I wanted, it involved a much longer road walking section under baking hot sun than I had intended.

See La Rochelle(GoogleEarthLink)

   I joined the girls for a sun bathing session and watched as more and more people arrived as the tide went out. Soon there were nearly a hundred of them all digging in the muddy sand and under rocks looking for some sort of local seafood thing.

   In the evening I met a group of English lads from Devon, here on a two month train ride, they were heading for the beach with more than a few beers. When the girls finally got ready we also headed for the beach, but got some pizza on the way as it was now 9pm and none of us had eaten since the beach. Kirstin, Kiristina, Matrina, Julie and I met the four guys (Sam, Alan, Chris and Chris) and when all the beers had been drunk and only the pizza crust was left we went to a local bar for a few rounds of table football. My skills in fussball are sadly not existent, so I talked with whom ever I could and watching in awe and amusement as Alan managed to convince a local that we were drinking with Will Young (the winner of the Popstar TV show in England). Now that I have looked him up on the net I can see that one of the Chris' is a dead ringer for Mr Young.

   A bit of drama in the hostel last night. When returned to my room at about 3am I found a guy coma-ed out in the toilets. I found the night watchman and he decided to kick the guy out. By fluke he was sharing my room so for the next 15 mins I heard the two talking and then the drunken guest noisily packing his bag. Just as he left another person asked him something and the guy took off like a rocket. The asker followed pretty quickly and everyone woke up. It turned out that the guy who was being removed had another bag stashed behind the bed and in it were some clothes he had stolen from the others in the room. At this news I made a single leap from my top bunk to the cupboard that had my bag and everything important to me right now. I found everything in order but it gave me a big fright, so I spent the rest of the night holding my small back pack with all my valuables and waking at every slight noise.

   This morning I am off to San Sebastian in Spain. The girls are heading there too and I should be getting to the train station to make our reservations. Another train ride doesn't sound too exciting, but we will be travelling through Bordeaux, and I will have the chance to learn a few more Norwegian words before hiking over their mountains later this week.



best wishes from
   Craig
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  6 Jul
03
 

   Levi and Sarah left this morning. I'm sad to see them go as they are both cool people, as are all their Swiss friends. I will see them again but just when that will be I am not sure. I got back on the trains today, and very nearly missed my first connection. For some reason the train was changed from platform D to platform C and the announcement was only made in French. I tried to ask a guard if I should go to platform C but as soon as I mentioned speaking English he dismissed me with out even trying to help me in French.

   Seeing as I only had about 2 hours sleep last night, I snoozed my way across most of France, but did stay awake long enough to see fields of sunflowers whizzing past at about 300kph. After nearly 11 hours on trains and in stations I have arrived at La Rochelle. I thought I had been here on a family holiday, but nothing looks familiar. Tomorrow I'm going to go to L'ile du Re (assuming the weather is good) and soak up some rays beside the Atlantic Ocean, and then I'll work my way down the coast to Spain.


best wishes from
   Craig
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  27 Jun
03
 

   Wow, after 170km and 10 days I am back where I started, and thankfully in one piece.
   As Dad has told you in the replies to my last posting, I did indeed tackle the Fenetre D'Arpette. It was a tough one for sure, but I just had to do it. It did actually rain a bit, but got much better when I reached the really hard part. The descent on the other side was just as slow and hard, almost three hours of clambering over larger boulders and being very careful not to take the quick route down the middle. That night I stayed in a lovely barn in La Peuty. No one else was there so I got to be in the top bunk, and I mean the TOP bunk, right up in the rafters. Thanks to Matt's spare earplugs I was completely oblivious to the cows ringing their bells outside.
   After that it was the climb to Col de Balme, the French-Swiss border. From there I could see Chamonix and it was a welcome sight, despite being a bit obscured by the haze. Another harsh descent into the valley and that night was spent at Tre-le-champ. Inside the hostel seemed like lots of little buildings put together in a heap. All inter-winding rooms with windows between them and the hall. That night I loaded up on carbos, in the form of about 7 servings of pasta, and it did me well until breakfast the next day.
   Thursday started by waking me up to the sound of wind and rain, so things didn't look good for an early start. Eventually I got going, and with my new hiking buddy Matt, we cleared the ladders in sunshine. The mountain that morning was probably the steepest of the tour, but the path went along rather than straight at it so the elevation gain took plenty of time. After the ladders were lots of steps. Wooden logs nailed in place and when there was nothing to hold onto I felt very exposed. In the afternnon, Matt, (Dave who caught up with us at La Flegere) and I went up the chairlift and walked along to Lac Blanc. A very nice place when the wind stopped.
   And that brings me to today. The three of us set out at 8:30am under swirling clouds. By the time we reached Plan Praz there were a quite a few paragliders launching themselves off the slopes. We climbed on and had lunch at Le Brevent in glorious sunshine. From there on it was all down hill, and in the sun. There were so many people going up the other way. Perhaps starting the Tour de Mont Blanc in a clockwise direction, perhaps just a day walk. But whatever their reason, it was a tough day to be going up hill.
   So we reached the bottom together and I am back in my starting hostel. Heidi did come through and the bag of my cold weather gear was here waiting. Must go before time expires.

Col De Balme
Heading towards the Swiss/French border crossing at Col De Balme
The Ladders
Climbing the ladders on the way to la Flegere
Les Houches
Dave, Matt and I sitting at the train station after finishing the walk

best wishes from
   Craig
Wish you were here?     (3 replies so far)



  17 Jun
03
 

   Bonjour! I am in Chamonix, at the foot of the French Alps. I set off from Reading this morning, landed in Geneva and got driven all the way out here. Luckily the lady at the front desk speaks English. I have tried a little bit of French, mais c'est ne pas tres bon. I've stocked up on food and water and looked at the time table, early tomorrow morning I'll be gretting this hiking thing under way. Starting from the near by town of Les Houches, I'll be walking to Les Contamines which is about 16km. I don't know how common internet access is so I may be out of earshot for a while.
   Best foot forward.


best wishes from
   Craig
Wish you were here?     (10 replies so far)




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