It’s tempting to not write about St Tropez. I met up with my then-boyfriend there for a few days that were really fun, but unfortunately an irrevocable event on the last night there cast a pall on the entire trip.
The train station in Paris – Gare de Lyon – was fairly easy to navigate. It’s similar to the layout of Penn Station in NYC where the track is announced and everyone dashes to get on. Incongruently, people who aren’t travelling on the train are allowed to go on the platform and say good-byes, etc. Not only does this put people in the way of actual train-riders trying to board, but, if you come from a country where lip gloss is considered a deadly weapon, seems like a blatant security risk. But I digress. (Ok, one last thing, splurge on a first-class ticket if you can. The extra leg room and quiet car are worth it.)
Our train was late arriving in St Raphael because the train before us had electrical problems, meaning we had to make two extra stops and also meaning that we would arrive too late for me to catch the 5 pm boat to St Tropez. There was a 7 pm boat, so that wasn’t too big of a problem. On the train I sat next to a sweet old Monagesque woman who reminded me of my grandmother and who gave me a package of cookies saying they were “good with champagne”. She didn’t speak any English and my French is so-so (I couldn’t give a business presentation in it, let’s just say), but we had a nice time talking. I also enjoyed the crusty old Brit sitting behind me who noted rather pointedly that “In America they’d sue!” when the conductor notified us the train would be late, and that “this is practically America!” when said conductor added that the bar accepted credit cards. Oh, Brits!
St Tropez is beautiful but it’s really a scene. We stayed at a hotel away from the main area but reachable by shuttle which ran fairly frequently. The hotel was gorgeous and we had a nice patio to sit on at night.
View looking out from our patio. You can see the Mediterranean in the distance.
The town reminded me a lot of Capri, which is to say very small and exclusive, with lots of shops that I couldn’t afford to buy anything in and with lots of attractive people wandering around. I chalked this up to the fact that rich attractive people like to only hang out with rich attractive people, and since St Tropez has just one road into the town (which is usually clogged with traffic), only rich people think it’s worth it to go. We had some nice dinners but skipped the clubs after; they’re difficult to get into and I’m not really a club type of person.
The Cote d’Azur beaches were not really what I was expecting. On the one hand, they’re more luxurious, amenities-wise, than American beaches. For example you can get food – not just hot dogs – served to you on a real table while you lounge on your chair. There are very decent non-T-shirt vending shops as well. But, the beach is much more narrow… like the sand area between the water and the shops/restaurants is not more than 20-30 feet. You couldn’t stretch a towel out on the sand and lay there without getting hit by the ambulatory vendors. Which was the other weird thing. Every 5 minutes or so another vendor would walk by selling tote bags, or coverups, or towels. They’d ask every beachgoer if they wanted anything when they walked by. It got kind of awkward after awhile. You’re at the beach to relax, not to constantly say “no thanks” to salespeople. Additionally, there was hardly anyone in the water except for a few children. Maybe I’m country, but I guess Atlantic Ocean beaches have spoiled me.
The last night we were there my travelling companion and I got in a huge fight and wound up not going out. Long story short, he decided to come with me to Amsterdam. But first we had to figure out how to get to Nice airport. We had to hire a driver to take us since the only other options were boat (takes a few hours), helicopter (crazy-expensive), or driving ourselves (not feasible). Our driver was named Gregory but with his accent it sounded like Quigley. Gregory did not have anything nice to say about France and was looking forward to moving to the U.S., which I found interesting. He was definitely one of these disaffected French youth I’ve read so much about on BBC.com. We tried to tell him that the U.S. has its share of massive problems, but all he knew was he couldn’t wait to get out of there. The best quote from Quigley, which I feel is sort of emblematic of French culture as a whole, was: “I’m not racist, but I don’t like Arabs.” Too bad you’re French, or you could run for President of the United States on that platform, Quigley!
Anyway, from Nice we flew to Amsterdam, my favorite part of the whole trip (and that’s not just the clogs talking).
I have a big problem of not listening to people when I already have my heart set on doing something. People warned me that Paris would be completely dead in August. I always thought that was sort of an exaggeration, like saying “All the French are snooty”.
No, really, everything is closed in August. I’m not sure how you can run a country when everyone departs the capital in August – a capital that is not just a political one but a financial and cultural one as well – AND takes a national holiday on top of that (Aug. 15, Fete de l’Assomption).
But first – arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport and getting to Paris from there is a completely separate hassle. The airport, interestingly, looks like something out of “Blade Runner” – like a futuristic layout that is so dirtied and aged that it just winds up being decrepit. I only speak “enough French to get by” but I managed to get my bags and find the shuttle to the RER train that takes you into Paris. Helpful hint, if you get into Paris this way you have to buy a separate train ticket (that costs more than just a plain old subway ticket). Thanks for being a bitch about it, subway window lady. Don’t you have a strike to go on?
I took the Metro into Paris and had hoped to transfer onto another RER line to reach the stop closest to my hotel (stop Musee d’Orsay). Unfortunately, the station where I wanted to make the transfer – Saint-Michel – was closed to that particular line. Which means when I exited the station, I had to walk several blocks while dragging my suitcases in order to reach my hotel. And of course it was raining. I was so completely stressed out by the time I reached my hotel that I had to take a very long nap after I checked in.
My hotel, the Hotel d’Orsay, is marked on the map. Normally the St Germain des Pres, the main boulevard just to the south of it, is bustling. When I was there, I was often the only person on the street for a few blocks – everything was closed.
I have only one picture from Paris, mainly because I was so incredibly annoyed by the entire city shutting down that I decided to not take pics out of spite. And also because the last time I was there (6 years ago, in June, which was really fun), I took a million pictures. But I digress.
Since I’d already done the touristy stuff and so many things were closed, Paris was boring and a rittle ronery. I spent most of my time walking around and looking at neighborhoods. I considered going to see “Marie Antoinette” one day, but the movies were dubbed, not in subtitles. The best day was when I met up with the president of my school’s alumni group in Montmartre for a tour and lunch (including escargots, which are like oysters but a little tougher).
Thursday morning I woke up and caught a train from the Gare de Lyon to St-Raphael on the coast, and from there I took a boat to my next destination.
I was terribly unimpressed with the French women I saw. You always hear about how put-together they are, and feminine, and stylish, and “don’t get fat“. These are mainly lies. French women have just as big of guts as I’ve ever seen, and plenty more wrinkles because they smoke like chimneys and tan themselves to the point of looking like a rich cognac-colored handbag that I’d like to own. Also, many women I saw – FRENCH women – had hair colors that simply have no origins in nature. Skunk-stripe highlights and lots of brunettes-turned-redheads. For all the fuss about French women not wearing makeup, they are certainly willing to experiment on other parts of their heads.
One more gripe about the French. They’re not snobby, just terribly unhelpful. I wonder if French people come to the U.S. and ask why everyone is so accommodating. I actually saw one woman at the Air France counter in Nice flat-out refuse to talk to a girl who was obviously running late for a flight. This was pretty typical.
Like DCB, I’m going to Europe this summer, but I’m leaving next week. I’ve got two weeks there but my itinerary is completely different. I’m starting out in Paris for a few days, then taking a train to St Tropez to meet up wit mah boo, then up to Amsterdam for the rest of the trip. The last time I went to Europe was several years ago, and I’m interested to spend more time in a few places rather than trying to move all over the Continent. I thought about going to London, but getting price-raped isn’t my idea of fun, and who can resist St Tropez? Not me.
Unlike the Batchie, I’m not staying in hostels. I was able to find fairly cheap hotels in nice neighborhoods close to public transportation. Seriously, how was it possible to plan trips like these before the internet?
So again, dear readers, any advice you’ve got is appreciated. The dates I’m there are fairly firm but not inflexible. I’m also intrigued by the idea of renting a car in Europe, maybe to take a day trip somewhere. Does anyone have experience with this?
Oh, and while I’m gone, you’ll have a very sad and empty two weeks without any posts. On the other hand, there’ll be two full weeks of me when DCB goes to Spain. Giddy up.
Turns out I am way ahead of yet another trend. In September I wrote,
I haven?t met a man who liked to shave, for as a gender we?re not born with the urge to get rid of our body hair. We do it because society tells us that an unshaven face is not acceptable. The line between what is masculine and feminine is becoming so blurry that solely feminine acts only a decade ago, such as eyebrow plucking, are now practiced by both genders. I wish for the day when I can go to the beach with my little brothers and we can all be proud of our full hair coverage, while making fun of the American men who not only bring a razor to their face, but to their body as well.
When you have a mustache by age 11, you prepare yourself for a future masculinity that dominates all other men.
On March 23 an article in the New York Times said,
On city streets, too, trends in scruff have reached new levels of unruliness, a backlash, some beard enthusiasts say, against the heightened grooming expectations that were unleashed with the rise of metrosexuality as a cultural trend. Men both straight and gay, it appears, want to feel rough and manly.
Too bad they are neither. Trend followers are lucky that facial hair pioneers such as myself have made it easier for women to accept their new look.
Typical girl: “Can you shave your facial hair… it’s making my chin red.” :redface:
DCB: “Sorry can’t do that. I’m a real man, and I don’t take requests.”
Typical girl: :sob:
I think I’ll bring the mustache back this summer… because I feel like it.
(Still :laugh: at white boys who shave their chest.)
Three years ago I was looking to rent a room in a house owned by a French woman. I’ve never been to France so I asked her how it was different from this country. She pointed to the roll of paper towels in the kitchen and said, “In this country everything is disposable, just like paper towels. Paper towels are everywhere. Back home we use cloth towels, wash them, and then use them again. Here there is so much waste, people just don’t care.”
It used to be that you buy something, it breaks, and you get it fixed. But that’s not how it works anymore. Now when something breaks you throw it away and get a new one. I see this with digital cameras. I’ve broken a few and mailed it to the company to get it repaired. But people I know just break theirs and buy the newest, more expensive model with the half-inch bigger LCD screen. It’s easier to enter a credit card number on some web site then to take the time to call a number, fill out paperwork, box the camera, ship it, etc. Of course everyone is busy now… who has time for that?
Then there are people who buy new cars. There is no good reason to ever buy a brand new car when you can save thousands of dollars by getting the same model that is just two years older. Buy people do it and say things like, “Well I don’t want to have to worry about maintenance.” They end up spending a lot more money so they don’t have to think about having to take time off work, find a way to get a ride to the auto shop, deal with a shady auto mechanic, sit in a waiting room, etc. What a hassle that would be.
Unfortunately this type of disposable mindset has transferred onto people. Now we are disposable. Why put in the effort to maintain a relationship when you can easily meet someone new? Why bother calling someone to work through a problem when it’s easier to call your friend to go out drinking? Broken camera, broken person… same difference. Why confront it? If someone has an annoying habit, why should we learn how to tolerate it? After all, we grew up in the age of Seinfeld, where man-hands and pea eating habits is fair-game to end it. We’ve become a neurotic sitcom character.
There is an article in Details this month by Augusten Burroughs. He writes,
There’s always going to be somebody better-looking than the person you end up with. Somebody funnier, smarter, richer. But if you’re fortunate enough to meet somebody with whom you are compatible, you have to close certain doors. You have to recognize that, yes, you may indeed meet other people you could fall in love with. But by sticking with the person you chose, you gain a level of intimacy that is not possible by hopping from one person to the next every couple of years.
Couple of years? More like couple of weeks. I’ve been here before. I’ve thought about the benefits of the long-term relationship, and I hate the disposable mindset, yet every weekend I’m still up doing the same thing, meeting women who I consider already broken. Fixing something just takes too much work.
“Homer the Clown”, when Homer goes to clown college (season six). It’s the smartest, wittiest, and funniest Simpson episode there is.
Krusty: All right, now there can only be one Krusty in each territory, so I hope this works out. Tell me where you’re from.
Man 1: Georgia.
Texan 1: Texas.
Texan 2: Uh, Brooklyn.
Man 2: Russia.
Man 3: New Hampshire.
Homer: [folding a balloon incompetently] And then, take that…and… put that in there, and you…ah! There’s your giraffe, little girl.
Ralph: I’m a boy!
Homer: That’s the spirit. Never give up.
Homer: Whew, I’m beat. And after work I’ve got to dedicate a new Jiffy Lube and cohost the Ace Awards.
Lenny: Wow! Jiffy Lube!
Luigi: You come-a with me — come-a with Luigi! You don’t want to sit with the rest of these-a scum.
Everyone: Hey! What do you call that? etc.
Luigi: I only-a consider you scum compared-a to Krusty.
Everyone: Ah! Oh, well, right. I can see that, etc.
Luigi: Yeah, you see how you scum.
Bill: Let me get this straight: you took all the money you made franchising your name and bet it AGAINST the Harlem Globetrotters?
Krusty: Oh, I thought the Generals were due! [TV shows a Globetrotter spinning the ball as Generals watch.] He’s spinning the ball on his finger! Just take it, take the ball!!!
Shame that everything went downhill after Conan left.
-Previous best proclamation: Rock album
House parties are usually a better bet for guys than clubs or bars. The girls are more friendly and therefore easier to pick up. But there are times I rather be in the most mega-cheesy club of all than in a lame house party with one cute girl that all the guys form a circle around.
The way to tell if a house party is going to be good or not is to listen to what people say about the party beforehand. If the following statements are uttered, DO NOT GO TO THE PARTY.
1. “This party was really good last year.” It was good because YOU didn’t know about it. But now you are going to invite all of your lame guy friends because you heard it was good. You and ten other sets of guys.
2. “The evite had a lot of girl names.” In this case, guys see the evite loaded with girls and invites all his monthly circle jerk buddies without replying on the evite (to not raise suspicions). You get to the party and – SURPRISE – Chad and his frat buddies have crashed the party and pissed off all the girls.
3. Similar to number two is, “I hear there are going to be a lot of girls.” If you hear this, it is guaranteed there will be no girls. This rumor was spread by one of the hosts to make sure his guy buddies don’t skip out on his lame house party.
4. “I think it’s going to be good because this girl invited me and she has friends.” Newsflash: you are not the only guy she invited. When the dozen other guys show up, the numbers will not be in your favor.
5. “My friend, *name of a guy*, is throwing the party.” If the party is thrown by one guy, it is going to be a sausage fest. He will always know more guys than girls. If he knew more girls than guys, why would he throw the party so random guys can show up and hit on his girl friends?
Because party word spreads faster among guys than girls, the only parties that are good is when there is no buzz about it beforehand. Remember that small party you missed out because you went to the much hyped “hot tub party”? Yeah well we had a 8-person drug fueled orgy that lasted well into the morning.