Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Day 16: A Bored Gargoyle, Locked Bridges, and Optional Immigration

Nacho Bene

a) It is 404.2 miles from London to Edinburgh
2) It is 282.1 miles from London to Paris
d) It is 266.3 miles from Fort Worth, TX to San Antonio, TX

Oxford Strikes Back Day 16:
A Bored Gargoyle, Locked Bridges, and Optional Immigration

Stardate: Monday, July 16, 2012

A Helpful Parisian, a Bored Gargoyle, and a Locked Bridge

On Monday morning, I said goodbye to Caleb and Cite Universitaire.

Au revoir, Cite Universitaire.

I was going to see some more sights before taking the Eurostar back to London St. Pancras, but I experienced an Unexpected Travel Snag.

I took the metro from Cite to the Notre Dame stop, where I planned to visit St. Chapelle Cathedral. I had plenty of time to see the cathedral and then take the metro onto Paris Gare du Nord – but the metro line from Notre Dame to Gare du Nord was closed.

My first clue was that I wasn’t able to exit at Notre Dame. I had to take a long walkway to a completely different metro exit, which was not at Notre Dame.

After a bit of thumb-chewing and not panicking*, I found my way to the Seine and then along the river to Notre Dame.

*Thanks to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It has the words “DON’T PANIC” written on it in big, friendly letters.

Fortunately, I had plenty of time to find a way to get to Gare du Nord Station, but I wanted to make sure I knew where to go before I saw any sights. Have to plan the escape route, you know?

I stared at the entrance to the metro line I would have used. I stared at the sign and the map and the French words on both.

A helpful Parisian construction worker saw my confusion.

“Oui – er, yes.”

Then he told me there was another metro line across the Seine, right next to Notre Dame.
Merci, monsieur.

With my escape route planned, I wandered around looking for St. Chappelle and found that it had a very long line. So I just walked around Notre Dame and admired it one last time.

Of all my options, not a bad one.

The bored gargoyle.

Notre Dame

This bridge was close to Notre Dame, and it was, as you can see, covered in locks. Apparently, that’s “a thing to do.”

A couple place a lock on the bridge. Anyone want to explain the significance? (I could have just asked, but that would have been too easy.)

One last look. Au revoir, Notre Dame.

Gare du Nord and Optional Immigration

Thank God, getting to Gare du Nord was uneventful. I paid 0.70 EURO* to use the water closet.

*In America, we don’t have to pay for the water closet, or the loo, or the toilet, or the bathroom, or the restroom.

Then I had lots of time to read.

I bought one more French pain au chocolat, and then I waited by my platform. It occurred to me that I hadn’t passed through immigration. And yet I was by the platforms.

Huh. I guess I didn’t need to go through immigration.

I watched the Departures/Arrivals Board to see which platform my train was leaving from.

Paris Gare du Nord: the fascinating Departures/Arrivals Board with the flipping letters and numbers.

With an hour to go, the thought occurred to me that perhaps I wasn’t in the right place. This thought was coupled with the revelation (from the board, I think), that my platform was upstairs. And check-in was upstairs.

Er, check in?

Oops. Immigration.

I guess it wasn’t optional.

An hour later, I had successfully passed through the mandatory immigration without incident and I was sitting happily on the Eurostar, eagerly anticipating my return to Brasenose.

On this trip, I had learned to give myself plenty of time between trains when planning, and I had also learned how boring it is to leave too much time between trains. Sometimes you get bored. Sometimes you get really bored and you buy a ticket for an earlier train instead of waiting in the station.

Silly American.

Back at Brasenose

I was back. I swapped Paris stories with my hallmate, John.

I shaved.

Devon and I wore our Real Madrid jerseys at George and Danver’s.

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