Paris - article from April 2006 (copy-pasted from old blog)

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March holiday 2006: Hannover-Goslar-Paris

In this article I will report from my March holiday, which was exciting as expected.
It took a bit longer this time, because I was still busy with writing an essay about the Roman Colosseum...

22/03/2006 - off to Germany

The alarm clock rang at 5 o'clock, I had barely slept. I got ready and put my remaining things into my backpack. I had had to order a taxi, because the planning went wrong this time and, unfortunately, at this time of day neither buses nor trains operate. 25£ were negotiated and still cheaper than one night in a hotel somewhere in Birmingham, but still almost twice as expensive as the flight to Germany. Weird, eh?
The taxi came around 6am and I left the house in the porch, thought briefly about whether I had everything and closed the door. I turned round to open the external door, but it was locked. Shock! What now? It was 6 o'clock in the morning and Anna, who covered for me, had locked me in (or out?).
She slept. I started hammering against the door, hoping her sleep wasn´t too deep. The old lady doesn´t hear very well anyway and should not wake up. It took a while, but luckily Anna opened the door and handed me the key for the external door. What trouble in the early morning!
I went to the taxi. The taxi driver looked a bit weird with camouflage jacket and beaming orange baseball-cap. The car was a Mercedes without obvious sign that it really was a taxi. I was a bit concerned but I wanted to get away.
On the way to the airport I enjoyed the sunrise above the wonderful English scenery and we had a nice chat. I told the strange man that it will be my birthday tomorrow and that I was looking forward to see my friends and family.
At Birmingham airport, he said "Just give to me 20£, birthday price! "I gave him 22.50£ and thanked him happily. Germanwings was my choice for this journey home again. There was a smiling face painted on the plane - how drolly - and so it was looking friendlier than the board crew!

In the air I enjoyed the clear view on the ground and the sparkling of the windows reflecting the rising sun. I had to listen to the announcements of the board crew and the captain, because I couldn´t use my MP3 player "... and we like to tell you. . blablabla... Snacks and drinks ... blablabla... 2 degrees in Cologne... " Dammit!
In the arrival hall of the airport the identity cards were checked, the loudspeakers shouted "My name is Bonn - Cologne / Bonn!". Are they going mad over here?
I took the train to the railway station where I paid 1.10€ to use the toilet. I sat on a bench at the platform and while I was waiting for my intercity express stared at the Kölner Dom cathedral with my mouth wide open. For a short moment I thought, there would be no scaffoldings at the cathedral, but I was wrong ... the theory seem to be right that it is always built on the cathedral. If one side is finished you have to start at the other end again, what takes about 10 years. What a shame!
I wanted to get an overpriced soft drink from the machine and decided on Sinalco orange ...., however, I got Sinalco apple. Cursing I went back to my bench and continued staring through filthy glass roof at the cathedral. The train came and we took off to Hannover. I noticed that something had become quite foreign to me in my native country. That was quick.
We arrived at Hanover central station, my dad waited for me at the platform - with a little flower, a printed welcome and camera - there was definitely a third hand missing.

Very boring indeed, we drove to my tax consultant and sorted my 2005 stuff out and finally finished my company.
We drove to my dad´s flat and watched football (Germany vs USA).
What a day...

23/03/2006 - birthday

I got up at 7am, did some yoga and then I got presents from daddy. I got vouchers for the online ticket shop and so I can pay all my Keith Caputo Tickets in May! Yeah!
The birthday didn´t continue in a very interesting way, because I had some things to organize in the city. As a present for myself I bought some "rock-star" glasses an I met daddy and his good friend Anja at the "World Café" at the Central Station. It was nice and sunny and I considered this being a heavenly birthday present.

A bit later I persuaded my dad to go to my favourite Döner restaurant. Mmmhhhh, chicken-curry-Döner, mmmhhh!
Back in dad´s flat, I got myself ready to party and I was looking forward to a wonderful evening with my friends.


At about 5.15pm, slightly stressed, I arrived at the pub. More and more known faces appeared and I was so happy!
It was a wonderful night in my native country.

24/03/06 - Hangover in Hanover

I knew beforehand that I shouldn´t plan anything for this day. So, I stayed in bed till 1pm (when was the last time I could do this?) and the hangover wasn´t too bad.
In the afternoon, daddy and I did some shopping, studied and watched "Who wants to be a millionaire?".

25/03/06 - Goslar and Booster

The day began with a deja-vu-experience: I had to catch the bus to the Central Station at 7.30am to get the train to Goslar, where my mum lives. The night before daddy told me to wake him up, before I leave, but after slight knocking on his bed-room door, nothing happened, so I decided to let him sleep. I took my things and went out of the apartment door. And while I was going down the stairs, I already thought about, what will happen... I reached my hand out to the house door: it was locked and I was locked in (or out?) again! Silly me! I ran up the stairs to the 3rd floor again and found myself hammering against another door. Daddy opened with a bed head and gave me the keys. I ran down, unlocked the door, left the house still running when behind me I heart a deep motor sound. It was the 700 to the Central Station. That was close! I got on the bus and the Turkish driver said "Hahahaha, that´s healthy in the morning, you know, hahaha!". Very funny! I bought a day-ticket and got my breath back. It was raining.
I arrived at the Central Station in Hanover and had some breakfast at Burger King.
I took the train and finally arrived in Goslar. My mum waited for me at the platform, smiling! We sat in her flat, having breakfast and talking.
After one hour, my brother Alexander (alias Zanney) came and we chatted a lot. We went to a restaurant we visit since years, because of its wonderful view over the Harz mountains.


Unfortunately it was quite foggy, so the view wasn´t that good. After a typical German meal (oh, I miss this!) we drove back to my mums place. I showed some pictures and videos.
My birthday present from mummy and Zanney was shopping in a supermarket. So I got all kinds of German goods, which I miss so much in England and my mum sent it later, so that I can eat everything and be happy.
Back in Hanover I met my friend Anja in the World Café at the station. I hadn´t seen her since July and we had a good chat and coffee. She accompanied me at my dad´s place, when I got ready for partying again later on. I wanted to meet a few friends in the rock bar Booster.

Anja drove home and I went to the Booster, where Sandmann and his girl-friend Milena were waiting already. Later Saskia and her boy-friend Karsten came, too. And Manuel arrived afterwards. We stayed in the Booster the whole evening, which had good music.
Because of the change to summer time, we lost an hour, so it was nearly 5am, when I got into bed.


Originally I planned to do more things on this day, but I was wasted. I woke up around lunch time and daddy and I went to a restaurant, where I had more good German food. In the afternoon I met my friend Alex at the World Café (third time here and I don´t even like coffee), we chatted a while and daddy and I drove home to have a nice evening in front of the TV.
At 11pm I decided not to sleep at all, because I would have to get up at 3am again for my flight to Paris.

27/03/06 - off to Paris

So, I did all sorts of things, watched MTV, surfed the internet, packed something, had a shower and suddenly I noticed, that it was 4am and we would leave in 30 minutes. I threw the rest of my stuff in the backpack and we left to the airport on time.

The flight with Air Berlin took off at 6.20 and after a stop in Nuremberg I arrived at the airport Charles-de-Gaulle in Paris. When I switched on my mobile I had a welcome message from Jerome.
After the Life Of Agony gig in London in December I had met Jerome, we stayed in contact and I decided to meet him in Paris.
Already at the airport you notice that the French don´t like the rest of the world. The way from the arrival hall to the train station had a roof, but it was outdoors. Most of the signs were in French and together with some wrong information I got an 8€ ticket from the unfriendly French chick at the ticket box. An English man on the train gave me the right information then and I had the strange urge to rather have Brits around me.

I arrived at the station Gare Du Nord and took the Metro. I left the station and was in Paris.
I marched up the Boulevard de Rochechouart what ended up in a slalom around "Bonjour, mademoiselle!" shouting men. I tried to look like I knew where I was going, what was difficult as obviously being a backpacker.
Finally I found my hotel, but still had to kill 2 hours until I could check in.
So, I locked my things away, got myself a Coke and relaxed on a bench.
I learned from my city map, that the Sacre Coeur was just around the corner so I decided to go there.
That was a good idea, because there were already zombie-like men appearing again.
"Bonjour, mademoiselle!" ..."Bonjour, mademoiselle!"
There weren´t many people about, what I appreciated. I found the Sacre Coeur and was stunned. The basilica stands on a small mountain, which suddenly arises into the sky of Paris.

With my mouth open I started to ascend and I regretted looking like a tourist, because suddenly there were dozens of African men around, who wanted to make Jamaican "Bongubulugulubu"-(or so) wrist bands for me. I didn´t have anything to do, so I let a friendly one do that damn band. I asked him, how much I owed him and he said, that I can decide, but most people gave 15€. I smiled at him and gave him 2€.
On my way up the hill I noticed that this had been a good idea for that I could now get around the other wrist band makers.
Puffing and sweating I arrived at the top of the stairs and I was blown away by that view.

A shame, that there was such a cold wind up there. But I sat down on a bench and inhaled that view for a bit.
After a while I decided to have lunch somewhere. I walked down the stairs holding my wrist band like a shield in front of me. I took the first Bistro with a view to the basilica and insisted on ordering my food in French. The garcon carried a huge smile but I got, what I wanted. It wasn´t too expensive for Paris and when I started eating I realized, why. It was disgusting! Dissatisfied I paid and went to a supermarket. I bought my usual Diet Coke and water and went back to the hotel. Checking in into 104 I was pleased with my choice. A single room with bed, TV; sink and table. What else do you need?


It took a bit to find the shared loo and the shower on the floor, but I definitely liked it here. A night was only 39€ and I was in Monmartre in la Paris.
Because I didn´t sleep the night, I felt really tired and went to bed. I zapped through the TV program, but as expected there were only 6 French channels. One sketch I understood: something about "la langue Anglaise" was said and a Jacque Chiraque puppet was beating up a Tony Blair puppet with a baseball bat. These people are crazy!
But funny it was!

28/03/2006 - Murphy´s Law

I got up at 6am and was eager to explore the Louvre today.
I left the subway at the Place de la Concorde, because I wanted to approach the museum through the park. There it was, the Louvre, and turning around I saw the Arch de Triomphe in the distance. And somewhere there was the Eiffel tower, too. Nice! And still no tourists around.

I walked through the park, accompanied by joggers, doves and seagulls and suddenly I was standing in front of the impressing building of the Louvre.

I was happy to see no cues and went to the entrance in the famous glass pyramid. I asked for a ticket and with a cold face the man told me that the museum was closed.
I felt like being spitted out by the pyramid. What to do now? (later I was told that all museums in Paris are closed on Tuesdays). I wanted to visit all the other attractions together with Jerome tomorrow, but what to do today?
I decided to have a nice French Breakfast and found a Bistro with a view over the Seine. The price was really ok for Paris. For 10€ I got a coffee, an orange juice, a croissant with two different jams, two toasts and a huge omelette.

Stuffed and a bit calmer I went to see the Notre Dame, which was around the corner.
So, here they were, the tourists! I just looked at the building from the outside. There were definitely too many people cuing to get inside.


I thought to do my own sightseeing tour now and went to the Eiffel Tower. I got of the train and out of the station Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel and expected to be standing directly in front of the tower. But I couldn´t see it. I found a little sign, which pointed out the way by foot to it. It was the only one and so I was searching and twisting my neck and turning around and then finally I saw it. I walked towards this ugly brown building and noticed that this phallic symbol looks like a giant chess player had put in in the city. One foot on the pavement, another in a park...
I wanted to take an elevator to the top but it was closed because of strikes. What else in France?


My mood darkened again and I went to a sightseeing bus stop. Here they were. I saw, that a ticket will be 22€. I laughed out loud and went on by foot.
With several turning-arounds I went to the Trocaderso for taking pictures. But when I arrived, heaven started to fall on me. Rain poured down and I ran to the entrance of a theatre. Here I waited with other tourists and Parisians. It didn´t seem to stop again and so I ran to the next Metro. I didn´t seem to have any luck with sightseeing and I just wanted to get to the rock bar "Les Furieux", which I already picked in England, and get drunk.
I got off the station Voltaire and it was still raining. Everything was closed, even my bar. So I had  two hours to kill.
Luckily the rain stopped and I could stroll through the streets of the quite sympathetic and alternative district of Bastille.


I sat in a café and chatted with the owner in French... well, I spitted single words and he entertained me with a speech about the manifestation and whatever...
I had some pastry from a bakery and then "Les Furieux" was finally opened. With a Heineken in front of me I sat outside, when I noticed that I had lost my 4,50€ pack of cigarettes. So, I just had a beer - no cig.
And then it started raining again...pouring... that much, that the roof wasn´t enough shelter and I had to go and sit at the bar. It seemed like all the other guests were drunk already and I wondered how they had managed that.
Anyway, it got unpleasant and I didn´t know, where to get cigarettes and just wanted to go to the hotel room, where my other over-taxpensive (heh) pack waited.
Today I hated Paris!
I arrived at the hotel and shut out the "Tres jolie!"s  and "Bonjour, mademoiselle!"s.
Frustrated, I ate a whole pack of Monster Munch and while sitting at the edge of my bed, I stared at the wall, mumbling and cursing.
After a cigarette I felt slightly better.
Daddy called and I told him about this fucked up day.
On TV was "Taxi 2". I had seen the first part in England a short while ago - in French with English subtitles. So, at least, I will understand, what it´s about. It wasn´t a good movie, but I had some entertainment.

29/03/2006 - my saviour!

Clearly, if I wouldn´t have met Jerome today, I would have taken a flight to "somewhereelse".
He fetched me at 10am and I was so glad to see a familiar face. We talked a lot and went up the Sacre Coeur again. Last year in May he took a picture with Keith Caputo up here and we took one of us to send it to him.

We drove to the Arch de Triomphe. Jerome did a wonderful tour guide and told funny stories about the French and their capital city.

We walked along the Champs-Elysees, visited a perfume store and a Virgin-superstore. We passed all those expensive shopping displays which don´t interest me at all and went on to the Eiffel tower. Yes, all by foot!
Still chatting happily we sat on a bench in front of the tower, let our heads fall backwards and stared upwards.

The elevators were free to use today, but 11€ were simply too much to get the wind blown around my head up there. We stayed for a while and then I took pics from the Trocadero... no rain today.

We went to an Irish Pub for lunch and had Fish & Chips and I enjoyed a 6,90€ pint of Strongbow. What would I do without the Irish?
Jerome asked me what else, I´d liked to see. I saw everything, didn´t I? I remembered, that Jim Morrison was buried in Paris. Jerome hadn´t been there himself but he knew that this was at the Pere Lachaise Cemetiere.
We took the tube there and had a nice walk over the cemetery in the sunshine.

We passed spooky crypts and beautiful old tombs. It is strange, that a place of death can be so fascinating. After half an hour we found the legendary grave of Jim Morrison. A barrier and a security guard are still keeping the rock star away from his admirers. I felt shivers down my spine, thinking that this music legend is buried in there. The grave was covered with flowers, plecs and letters.

After this morbid experience we went to a Starbucks and then back to the pub. I needed another luxury Strongbow. We talked a while and then Jerome had to leave. But we would meet again tomorrow.
I finished my cider and walked to the Metro station.
A really lovable thing in Paris is the fact, that you can walk around a corner and suddenly you are surprised by wide free spaces and stunning buildings.
In this case I was paralysed by the view of the Saint Eustache.

Back in Monmartre I took some Chinese food with me to the room and watched football (at least I understood this).

30/03/2006 - the last day

I stayed in bed till midday, then walked up to the Sacre Coeur again, because I read yesterday, that Vincent van Goghs grave is up there. I didn´t find a clue, where this was supposed to be, except a 5€ fee to visit a crypt, which was too expensive in my eyes, so I walked back and sat in the lobby.
I learned, that my German accent is still very strong when I speak English, because I was dragged into a conversation with a German woman until Jerome came to rescue me again.
We wanted to go for a walk in a park with strange buildings. It was raining again and so we were pleased to see that there was a John Lennon exhibition in the Cite de la Musique. No question, we had to see that.

More shivers down my spine... handwritten lyrics from John Lennon, guitars, he had played himself, a video, which was shot in the studio when recording "Imagine". Jerome and I were over-whelmed.
The museum had many instruments of different eras and it was really interesting, but bored after 80th guitar and the 40th whistle.
We went to a Subway (there are only two existing in Paris), then again to a Starbucks and to another Irish Pub. The pint was only 6,50€ - a bargain! Here we stayed and chatted along.
At 10pm Jerome had to leave me. I hate it, when you don´t know, if you will ever see a person again. I had another Strongbow and sat happily under the heated roof at the street.
It was a Thursday night, but the atmosphere was like a weekend. People passed in good mood, live music came out of the full pub. This was a nice finish for my holiday and I liked Paris again.
But I still think, that the French simply don´t deserve it! ;-)

31/03/2006 - back "home"

I got up at 5.30am and took the train to the airport Orly. I liked the thought, that I soon wouldn´t have to hear any French anymore.
We landed in Coventry and so I had visited 7 airports in 9 days!

After a short change-over with Anna, I was alone with gran and back at work.
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photo by: Sweetski