Monday, July 2, 2018

RETROSPECTIVE: Dan & Simon Race Across Europe 2016 PART THREE


12-14 July 2016
Dan & I relaxed in Barcelona (and yes, I did call my mom for her birthday). We did touristy things and we had a great pair of meals (one at the "second oldest restaurant in Spain" - if that claim can be believed) and possibly the worst pair of meals on the trip. We saw the outside of the Sagrada Familia on a bus tour on the 13th, which was followed by one of those worst meals - a place that tourists go to be seen eating. A little more wandering, encountering a super cool community garden, and a little spot where everyone looked local made up for the previous meal (meat & cheese & bread & beer for half the cost!). Laundry, 20+ postcards, bus tours, and all the tame tourist stuff one might expect in Barcelona. When Bastille Day rolled around, I decided to hop on the train to Paris. (Dan would leave Barcelona - indeed, Europe - the next day.[1])

Since it was Bastille Day, I figured I'd go check out the Bastille. Fun fact: the Bastille was torn down during the French Revolution. I mean, I knew they'd stormed it - I didn't know they razed it to the ground. All the celebrations for Bastille Day happen around the Eiffel Tower. Not to be deterred, I wandered around some weird alleys and got myself (intentionally) lost, then found a metro station and made my to a neat little bar near my AirBnB (Cafe des Anges). After a bit of an assault by a drunk patron, I had a great chat with the bartender - I returned the next day to write my journal and talk with him some more.

Returning to my AirBnB I learned of the tragedy in Nice. As it was reported as an "attack in France", I received a lot of "are you okay?" messages. I was both glad to know people cared and pissed off about the attack. Of course, this is before we transitioned to monthly school shootings in the US, so it was a bit bigger at the time than tragedies seem today.

15 July
In Paris I bought a day pass, saw the usual sights, and figured out some menu items. I never felt so much like a tourist in my life - uncertain, skittish, and without a grasp of the language. The only thing that really grounded me was the metro - there's something about rail and the associated timetables that's reassuring and lets me know there is a little order in the world. I worked through it and had a decent time - again, ending my night in the restaurant being passed free food & drink while folks questioned me about America.

16 July
I packed up and ran into Chris Davis, who was on a break from performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Fest. We had a nice lunch before I walked to the train station and, subsequently, toward London. The thing that hampered me most in Paris was a shut down / evacuation of Gare Nord because someone tried to bring a WWI bomb as a souvenir on the train. It wasn't terrible - as is my wont, I made friends with folks while waiting in line. After the gauntlet of UK border control, I found myself in London (now with London, Paris, Berlin, and Philadelphia stamps on the same page in my passport).

17 July
Much like in Paris, I hit the streets and wandered all over, starting with a walk along the Thames. My favorite entry from my journal is the following: "I saw the outside of the Globe Theater. In fact, I saw the outside of a great many places." That's the truth throughout this trip - a lot of passing by places and not going in. That being said, the biggest highlight was going in the British Museum and seeing the Rosetta Stone - I used to be fascinated by cryptography and stumbling into it (I'm a low-research, surprise-seeking adventurer) was a real treat. Another little treat was stumbling into a canal boat that had been converted into a mobile book shop.

18-21 July
I finally hopped on a train back to Frankfurt, where I could stop being a tourist. I met up again with Franzi and we just did normal things over my last few days - saw a movie on Monday (I forgot that Germans have assigned seating in movie theaters and made a bit of an ass of myself), went to a blues (jazz) club on Tuesday, and walked along the river on Wednesday. I wrote a little, but mostly relaxed after quite a bit of travel. I flew out on Thursday with no incident. I arrived in Philadelphia with enough time to write up a short account, then travel to my brother's wedding in Ohio.

  • 16 Days
  • 10 Cities
  • ~$4,300

Simon's Commentary on Dan's Commentary:

1 It felt weird not having a footnote on this one, so I'll let you know that Dan said didn't have anything to add as it's mostly my trip from here on out

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