5 July 2009................................................................................Train back to Amsterdam
If you ever wish to have your faith restored in people (and you are a woman--unfortunately, I don't think this would work with a man) all you have to do is maneuver a very large suitcase from the Chapelle metro stop all the way to Gare du Nord, and then onto the train. I tried it just now and my faith in humankind was restored for AT LEAST the rest of the day. First, a really skinny African guy who easily weighed half that I do helped me get my suitcase down three staircases. Then, when I was struggling to get my suitcase through the narrow ticket aisle, a mid-40s guy from India helped me find my way to Gare du Nord. Then the most beautiful man I have seen in recent memory helped me hoist my suitcase onto the train. No, seriously. The man was A GOD. Like an Italian Adonis mixed with that one professional soccer player I find really attractive, forgot his name. Certainly much more attractive than a certain ponytailed so-and-so. Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah. Yay for nice people.
Church today was really great. It was testimony meeting and this really nice girl form Geneva sat next to me and translated the whole thing. The Bishop was from the D.R.C. and those that spoke hailed from Haiti, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, and the rest presumably from France. One of the elders and I swapped mission stories for a few minutes afterward and I think made his companion mad.
On my last day in Paris with nothing else planned, I decided to actually GO to the Eiffel Tower and see what all the fuss was about. In a word, not my scene. Too many people, not enough to see. It's a gorgeous piece of architecture, but I like it better from far away.
Some addenda to my previous list:
14. Carry a water bottle (like a Nalgene) with you at all times. There are no public water fountains in Paris and that mineral stuff is wicked expensive.
15. French watermelon = heavenly.
16. Screw what they said about everyone else walking around in high heels. It's hardly true, and all you get for your effort to fit in is sore everything below the waist and at least one sprained ankle.
17. Watch out for dog crap. No one cleans up after them here. Yet another reason not to wear high heels: they slip easier.
18. If you have a laptop and a long train ride scheduled, bring it on the train. The Thalys cars have wifi.
19. I reaffirm what I said about avoiding the Eiffel Tower and the surrounding area if you can. There was a gypsy woman there who I am sure wanted to kidnap me. She was possibly related to the one in Hungary who gave me tuberculosis. Not sure. Anyway, she walked up to me and bulged her eyes and murmured "English? English?" with a very convincing accent. I don't THINK so! I pretended not to understand and ran away. Except I was wearing high heels so it was more like a mince.
20. Lastly, be sure to embellish every little thing that happens to you in Paris so everyone you talk to will really understand what a vibrant, interesting city it is.
5 July 2009..................................................................................................................One hour later
Here's another helpful tip from me. If you are on a train and wish to journey to another compartment, AND fall into any of the following three categories:
1. Blindness in one eye
2. Wearing high heels
3. Being a sort of clumsy person generally
Attempt this at the peril of tripping quite often and stumbling/falling onto people exactly like a drunk, and then blushing and turning red EXACTLY like a drunk, which will, of course, lead all the good people on the aforementioned train to assume you are drunk. This is a particularly serious danger if you are heading towards/away from the train compartment that is also a bar, even if you were only looking for something to eat.
If by any chance you fall into categories 1, 2, AND 3, MAYDAY! Do not even attempt to stand up.