0421 The Riots of Bagnolet (Fra 046—revisit)

Bagnolet Travel Blog

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It doesn’t take me long to get from Les Lilas to Bagnolet and things immediately go from boring to disturbing…

 

There’s a burned and gutted truck on the side of the street--  and it looks like it happened very, very recently…On  the other side, a bus stop is smashed and the glass is strewn all over the street and sidewalk.  There’s an eerie calm everywhere. 

 

My first thought is, “well, I am in the east suburbs--  maybe it’s normal to burn a couple cars and smash a few windows every night…” But it seemed odd that nobody was doing anything to clean things up… I went a bit further and looked into an apartment building parking lot--  it looked like every car in the lot had been lit on fire…

 

Something is definitely amiss in this town…

 

I quicken my pace a little bit.

  I’m relieved to reach downtown where there’s a semblance of normalcy… There’s the typical little Mairie and the street lined with shops--  and even I high rise district a bit further down.  I recall wandering through here a little bit back in 2005 while waiting for my bus to London… but I don’t recall seeing any burned cars or smashed windows…

 

I reach the shopping mall/bus terminal and decide to just take a video clip there under an underpass… I might jump straight on a bus to somewhere, so I want to make sure Bagnolet is parkbenched before I go…

 

I reach the bus terminal and start looking over my options.  I’d really like to explore my motherland, The Netherlands… maybe I should hop on a bus up to Amsterdam… But then again, I’m really getting tired of camping out every night, and I doubt I’ll have much better luck in Holland finding cheap places to stay in your average village--  plus the weather is a lot crappier…

 

Maybe I should just head out to East Europe where transportation and lodging is a lot cheaper… But I don’t want to give up on Western Europe quite so quick.

  I mean, one of my main goals of this trip was to prove to myself that I can explore Western Europe on a tight budget, right?

 

Glancing through the bus timetable book an offer catches my eye:  a 30 day bus pass…

 

Suddenly I have an idea… what if I buy the pass and then just sleep on the bus every night, and wake up in a different country?  With that pass I’d pay for my transportation and lodging for a whole month in one fell swoop!

 

But I had my doubts…  This would mean that I would only visit one or two cities in each country--  the more touristy cities and that might vaccinate me against wanting to really explore the country.  I mind end up saying “OK, I’ve parkbenched Venice and Rome--  so I don’t need to come back to Italy any more…”  This parkbenching project is more about experiencing a country or region in depth, not just making a quick stop in the capital city…

 

I just sat in the waiting room for a couple hours, pondering on what to do.

  This offer could turn out to be a dud--   The fine print reads that I can only buy each ticket from each city of departure… so technically I could end up in Stockholm only to find out that all the buses to anywhere are already booked up for the next two weeks…

 

But in the end, I just can’t turn down the opportunity… for months I’ve been trying to figure out away to explore Europe on the cheap--  and suddenly this opportunity is dropped into my lap.

 

Besides, I hate to admit it, but I kind of would like to have something to boast about at the end of my trip.  To say “I spent 2 months wandering around the suburbs of Paris” just isn’t going to impress anybody… Hey, I’m human… I’ve got an ego, too… And to be able to say “I travelled to  15 countries” would look really good on my Wanderer’s Resume…

 

So I fork over 410 Euros for the pass (it’s more expensive because it’s summertime) and make a reservation on the next bus to wherever… Amsterdam? Full.

Milan?  Not for a couple of days.  What do you have?  Stuttgart?  OK, I’ll got to Stuttgart, wherever the hell that is…

 

And so I go from spending 9 days wandering from town to town on foot… to crisscrossing the entire continent of Europe…

 

But I’ve still got a couple of hours before my bus leaves, so let’s got explore a few more suburbs, and maybe figure out what’s going on with all those burnt cars…

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Bagnolet
photo by: nathanphil