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September 1st, 2006

01:08 am: the last one.
Ok, one last post...

Some cool pics from my trip with Nat (not in chronological order). There's a lot of them, so I thought I'd warn you all.

LilleCollapse )

BelgiumCollapse )

IrelandCollapse )

ParisCollapse )

Hope you enjoyed and that all the pictures didn't crash your computer or something bad like that.

August 17th, 2006

05:59 am: back home. Signing off.
So, I'm back home now. It's 6am and I've been awake for 2 hours since I'm still on France time.

The flight home was pretty good. I had a vegetarian meal this time, so my nutritional needs were met, or at least partially. The whole plane blowing up plot didn't mess with my flights too much, except that I had to check my beer and wine for the flight from Montreal to Ottawa. So, bringing potentially dangerous stuff on the huge plane for the 7.5 hour flight: ok. Bringing potentially dangerous stuff on the small plane with 11 passengers for the 20 minute flight: not ok. Strange. Nat was on a separate flight on another airline and had to check all of her beer. We had some of it though and seems fine.

After picking me up, my parents brought me out to L'Autre Oeil for some beers and delicious nachos. Since I'm on the cheese now, I didn't have to ask for a cheeseless half. I must say that I have been missing out on all things delicious! I love nachos. I also love pizza. Man, that stuff is delicious.

Things are a bit different here. My Exorcist poster that was on the wall in my closet because of its extreme freakiness is on my wall and in plain sight. It's scary as shit and follows you everywhere, so it might not stay there, but I'm going to give it a chance.

One last thing, I've been having very strange dreams lately. The other night, I dreamt that sabotabby and fashionslut came to visit me in Ottawa. I don't know why and I don't even think they know each other. They didn't do anything. They were just kind of there. Last night, I also dreamt that doopah had both legs and one arm amputated. He was sitting in a recliner chair in my living room and it took me a while to notice that he had missing limbs. He looked like he was comfortably seated though.

I really don't have much else to say right now, except that, while I miss Ireland so much, it's still good to be home.

I guess this'll be the last mat_in_france post, although I might put up some pictures of my trips with Nat when I get around to it.

Thank you for reading and staying with me all summer. This has been such an awesome experience (the travelling, not the blogging). I'll see you all around sometime.

August 12th, 2006

09:04 am: Matty O'Brool

Just wanted to let everybody know we're ok.

Brugges was awesome, Brussels was pretty damn cool and Dublin is a fine city. We're heading off to Paris today, but I don't know what the airports are like considering that some people apparently wanted to blow some British planes up. I'm hoping this won't cause too many delays, but we're going to the airport about 4 hours in advance just in case.

Anyways, we just walked around Brugges like I did last time. In Brussels, Nat and I pretty much just visited the center of the city and had lots of beer. Nat bought a crap load of beer which, because of the terrorist thing, she might have to check or leave behind. We'll keep our fingers crossed and hope everything goes well and the beer isn't wasted or lost.

Dublin is nice. I saw the post office where the Easter Rebellion in 1916 pretty much ended. I also had a pint in the city's oldest pub where the provisional government surrendered in 1916. We took a tour of the countryside and I think that that was the highlight of the trip. It was so beautiful. Last night, we ended the evening in a brew pub near the hostel where we had some delicious beer, including a delicious stout. Oh yeah, we also visited the Guiness storehouse. How could we not?

Alright, not much internet time left, so I gotta go. I'll try to post when we get to Paris, or as the French call it, Paree.

August 8th, 2006

02:52 am: Nat in France
Nat got here today. In fact, she's sleeping upstairs right now.

I went to the airport to meet her, but not before stopping at the train station in Paris to drop off my huge ass suitcase in a locker. You had to pay for the locker with change and I only had about 2euros, so I asked a lady at the booth if I could make change there and she said no. So, I go to the other end of the train station to a machine and practically empty it by getting 40euros worth of change because that's how much I expected it to cost for about a week of storage. I go back to the lockers only to find out that I only need to pay 7euros now and the rest later. Bummer. I was left with 33euros worth of change in my pocket, which I offered to the woman at the booth who, for some reason, had decided that people could now get change there. Grrrr! Unfortunately for me, she wouldn't take it, so I offered to give change to people as they waited in line to get change at the booth.

After that fiasco, I went to take the RER (like ametro, but for areas outside of Paris) to the airport. It took forever for it to get there and I was already running late. Nat's plane had arrived an hour ealier than expected and she had been att he airport for two hours. Anyways, I get on the RER and go to the airport only to find out that Nat's at a terminal way at the other end. For those who don't know, the Charles DeGaulle airport is HUGE and I to take a shuttle bus just to get from terminal 2 to terminal 3. Meanwhile, Nat called me and we successfully met up and took the train back to Lille.

Once in Lille, we bought cheese and beer and had a snack before taking a walk around town. The weather was shite, but it was still cool to show someone else the town that has basically been my home for the summer. We stopped and had a beer on a terrasse and then ate at a Kurdish restaurant. Some guy came in with a guitar and started to play some Manu Chao songs. Pretty cool.

We got back, ate some baclava and went to bed. I just woke up for some weird reason like I normally do and came down to get something to drink from the vending machine with some of change from the train station. We'll be leaving for Brugges in exactly 6 hours for a fun day of hopefully good weather, delicious chocolate and great frites.

For those interested, here's our super itinerary:

08/08 - Brugges/Brussels
09/08 - Brussels
10/08 - DUBLIN!!!!
11/08 - DUBLIN!!!!
12/08 - Paris
13/08 - Paris
14/08 - Paris
15/08 - Paris/Roissy (the airport)
16/08 - Home (I'm kind of looking forward to this)

That's it. I probably won't be posting much until I get back, so have a good time while I drink guinness in Ireland, baby!

August 7th, 2006

08:17 am: Melina, you are the wind beneath my wings.
This is me going on the record stating that Melina, aka magic_alliance, is my hero.

You see, Melina sent me a package a little while ago. I was really stressed about it not getting here before I left (which is tomorrow, by the way). I even went to the post office on Saturday to ask the guy if he could check if I had received a big enveloppe, but he just gave me some attitude that made me whisper "asshole" to myself as I left the place. Anyways, I had even asked someone here if they could mail it to me if it got here after I left. Why all the hassle? Because Melina told me there was a secret in the enveloppe and Nat told me there was a gift that would make me want to fight Chris off an mary Melina myself.

Well, I got the enveloppe this morning. It was even delivered to my door by one of the women who work here. I had went to the kitchen to ask her about the mail and she said she'd check if we got anything. Next thing you know, she's knocking on my door and delivering me a package full of reese's peanut butter cips candy and a key chain that, get this, makes fart noises! I've never had a fart noise making machine before. I never really needed one either because I've always been good at making my own fart noises; if you know what I mean. However, I now know that this is what has been missing from my life. Not love, not religion, not spiritual elightenment, but a fart noise making key chain. Not only does it make fart noises, but it's shaped like a hand and it makes the noises when you pull its finger. How cool is that?

Now all I have to do is find a sucker that doesn't know about the whole "pull my finger" joke.

On a related note, I forgot to thank Victoria for the letter/gift she sent me. Here's to hoping that it brightens up one of my days, or, more likely, nights.

August 6th, 2006

05:40 pm: the bunker
I finally did it. I went to the WWII museum in Tourcoing. I was dying of boredom yesterday when I realized that it was the first weekend of the month. That means that the museum would be open. So when I woke up this morning, I had breakfast and hopped on the metro.

The museum is in a German bunker built in 1942. It was built by "volunteer" French, Belgian and Dutch workers who, under some kind of work exchange program, could work for the nazis in France or in Germany. Seeing that German factories were often the targets of allied bombings, most chose to work in France. I can't say that I blame them. The bunker served as a command post and listening post in the North of France and they had tons of old machines that were used during and after the war (the French had recycled German material). I was given a tour that laster about 2 hours because, as we walked around, other people joined in, including people who lived through the occupation when they were children. They remembered the rations, the soldiers and everything else that went along with living under the occupation. At one point, the guide was saying how the nazis would take people hostage everytime the resistance killed someone or blew something up, and how, if they didn't surrender, the hostages were killed. When the guide said this, an older woman leaned over to her husband and said how someone she knew had been taken hostage by the Germans and shot. It was weird to hear them talk about all of this because up until then, this was all stuff that had happened a long time ago, in a far away place that only existed in history textbooks and hollywood movies. Being face to face with an event like the Second World War has been new to me and has amazed me since I got here. I'm glad I went to the museum.

Funny story. They had mannequins dressed up in the uniform of an American 101st Airborne division parachute guy. It reminded me of Band of Brothers, and when someone in the group brought up Saving Private Ryan, I asked if they had Band of Brothers in France. The guide said they did and that the uniform the mannequin was wearing was purchased from the production company after the filming.

Even funnier story. Old German helmets go for a lot of cash these days. The guide estimates that the one they have in the museum could fetch up to about 15 000 dollars. He explained to us that they found theirs - which is in very good condition and still has visible insignias on it - from a farmer who, after the war kept it and used it to feed his chickens. He either musn't have known what it was wirth or didn't care because he donated it to the museum.

Another little tid bit. One of the generals that ran the whatever section of the army there (in French, I think it was la 15e armée, which would be the 15th division, maybe. I don't know) had served in Stalingrad before being sent to Tourcoing. As some of you may know, the Germans at Stalingrad were pretty much wiped out or captured, but this guy managed to escape with most of his troops before they were completely surrounded. Of course, Hitler had given them the order not to give up a single inch of soil the the Soviets, so he got into a bunch of shit for disobeying the fuhrer. Well, when D-Day happened, thie general (I think his name was Van Smoot) stormed into the telephone room and demanded to be connected with Berlin so he could speak with Hitler. When Hitler was finally reached, the personel was told to leave the room. A German veteran who later returned to the bunker when it was a museum said that they could hear the general yelling at Hitler and telling him to send some Panzers his way. Of course Hitler won the argument, but everyone was stunned to have heard the general yelling at the fuhrer that way. The general later lost his post when he was suspected of having participated in the plot to assassinate Hitler on July 20th, 1940.

So yeah. I really enjoyed the museum and I think it was a good way to have ended my alone-travelling time. Speaking of which, Nat will be here tomorrow, so I don't know how often I'll be able to post while we're travelling. If they have internet in hostels, I'll post, but if not, I'll write a last post when I get back home to Canada.

August 5th, 2006

06:55 pm: collision
I did something today that I had never done before. I saw a movie in the theatres that I had already seen on video/DVD. Actually, that might have happened before, but this time it was an accident.

Being bored and downtown, I decided to catch a movie at the local cinema. I checked their schedule and as luck would have it, there was a movie starting in 15 minutes. Its French title was Collision and it said that it starred Sandra Bullock and Matt Dillon. I couldn't immediately remember seeing any movie called "Collision" (say it in English this time) with those actors, so I bought the ticket and waited for the movie to begin. Durign the few minutes of waiting for the movie, I started to think about how funny it would be if I recognized the movie as it started. I imagined myself chuckling as I realized how silly the situation was. Then it really dawned on me. "Collision"...synonyms...."Crash". Dammit! I HAD seen the movie before. I didn't chuckle because I never actually expected it to be a movie I had seen before. For some reason, when I read Matt Dillon, I pictured Matt Damon. Why do their names have to be kind of similar? At least it was a good movie.

I booked some rooms in a hostel in Paris for when Nat and I go there. We'll have to be in separate rooms, but I figure that's no big deal. It's the most expensive hostel in Paris though, which sucks a bit. It's one I stayed at during my first trip, so I know it has a bar in the basement and is right next to the Pere Lachaise cemetery. At least this way we can have a beer and meet fellow travellers after spending some time with the dead.

12:37 am: pee!
I am so friggin' bored!

I've been drinking lots of perrier-like water lately. Add a bit of lemon to it and you've got yourelf a delicious, refreshing drink.

That's all. I have to pee now.

August 4th, 2006

05:35 pm: hey big spender!
Man oh man, did I spend today.

I bought a ticket to go to Paris to meet Nat on Monday, but bought it for an hour later than I should have because it was half price (18 euros instead of 30). Now Nat's going to have to wait a wee bit for me. I called her and apologized, but she was cool with it.

The reason I'm going to be late is because I need a place to leave my luggage, mainly my computer. I don't particularly want to travel with it, so I found some lockers at the train station in Paris where I can leave them. Unfortunately, it's going to cost me 50 euros (or about 75 bucks). Bummer.

I also got a USB key to back up all of the work that I did. If I lost my research, I would just give it all up, find the nearest hobo and ride the rails with him for the rest of my life.

My last big expense was a box that I can mail books and CDs home in. I bought about 35 CDs since I got here and about 10 or so books, so I need a way to send those home. That was 36 euros (about 50 something dollars).

Finally, I saw a movie. I've seen all the good and mediocre ones, so I was stuck going to see The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. It was cheesy, but a bit better than I expected it to be. What helped it a lot was the came appearance by Vin Diesel at the end. Man, that guy is cool. I wish I was only half as cool as he is.

So cool.

August 3rd, 2006

06:06 pm: ramblings
Well, I finished my working hours today. Now, I only have to wait till Nat gets here and I can start travelling. I was supposed to go to Dunkerque tomorrow, but the hostel was full. I figure it's for the best since it'll give me the chance to spend my travelling money on other, more expensive travels.

It's pouring like mad right now (or it was a few minutes ago). I hope the weather gets it out of its system or that the rain at least stays here in Lille. It would suck to have rain while I travel.

I've been thinking about the things I'll be happy to see when I get back home. Aside from friends and family, I'll be glad to have my pillows back. The one I have here is too big and my neck has been killing me for a while. With no one to give me a massage, I've had to live with the pain for oh so long. Le sigh. It makes me sad.

One thing I won't be glad to see when I get back home is the expensive beer. 80 cent beers are truly something to be treasured. I'll have to take advantage of it while I can. Make the most of it! Reach for that rainbow! Max the envelope! and so on...

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