After spending my junior year in Florence, Italy I backpacked alone for a month through Europe.
I spent an initially lonely time in the South of France. It was hard to get used to traveling alone. Although visiting the hospital in Arles where Van Gogh was confined was amazing. It was repainted the colors of his painting. You can only imagine how blinding it was in the bright, spring sun. Later, a woman from Texas also traveling alone convinced me to join her at the Roman amphitheater to watch a bull chase. A group of men dressed in all white chased around a bull with tassels around its horns. They tried to pull off the tassels. And Van Gogh was considered the crazy one.
Then I headed to Paris (note violence, sex and guns follow so stop reading aloud to children).
The overnight train ride was in a large car with chairs, not compartments like were on the Italian rail system. Late into the night the two passengers across from me, who I thought didn’t know each other when they got on the train, consummated whatever was between them. In front of me and all the other passengers. Not passionate kissing with serious petting. Full blown sex in which I saw privates. Stunned, I changed seats but couldn’t switch cars.
The new found lovers finally went to sleep (or more likely passed out) and the car was quiet. Not that I can sleep sitting up so I watched lights go by and kept track of station names. I was pretty relieved when we were about 3 or 4 stations outside of Paris. The train started to pull out of that station as the sky was getting lighter.
Then it jerked to a stop. Then went backwards.
In case you are not an avid train rider, trains don’t go backwards. Ever.
A young man ran through our car. Immediately behind were men who looked like police with their guns drawn. An elderly woman got up and started yelling. One of the men turned, pointed his gun at her, and yelled back. She sat down.
By then I had found someone near by who spoke both French and English. He explained that there had been a stabbing in a car behind us. Shortly thereafter an ambulance pulled up. We waited for a while then pulled out.
We finally got to Paris, later than scheduled but still 7:00 am. As I climbed the stairs looking for a pay phone to call my college friend, a bird just missed landing crap on my head. I could smell the crap as it passed in front of my face.
I love Paris in the springtime.
I love Paris in the fall.
I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles.
I love Paris in the winter.
Allison is visiting today and this was originally posted in October last year. There is a Part Deux if you want to see what the City of Lights did to her. When not longing for those carefree days riding the rails, Allison is the mom of twin 6 1/2 year old boys and an almost 3 year old daughter. She is also starting a new job this month. You can read Jenn’s favorite post at Soccer Mom in Denial. Click here to learn more about the Blog Exchange.