Saw "Poseidon" at the cinema. Not too good. Starts out pretty well, is grimmer than I was expecting and has what should be very tense scenes, but never really adds up. I think there are big problems with the pacing: you really need some quite space, some places to get your breath back; but instead it just jumps from one oh-my-god-we're-all-going-to-die set piece to another.
Went on a "mini-break" to Paris from Tuesday to Thursday. Have a big bunch of handwritten notes to fill in and type up: first day stuff below. Just stuck to the usual tourist track though, so don't expect anything very interesting.
Preparations: compromised on the travelling light thing and took a pair of lightweight shorts instead of the spare trousers. Worked out OK, though there were intermittent showers in spite of the weather forecast, so I think I might have done more walking in the rain if I'd had spare shoes and trousers, instead of ducking into Le Metro all the time. On the other hand, particularly on the way back it was nice to be able to navigate the rush hour with just my usual little rucksack.
Gold star for travel helpfulness goes to my compass watch, allowing me to fearlessly navigate a strange city, strike confidently out in general directions, identify eastbound and westbound Metro trains despite not knowing the termini, and to methodically quarter maze-like museums with merciless precision. Wow. So this is what it's like to have a sense of direction.
Paris Day 1: Eurostar newbie notes
Check-in is easy. To get your ticket just slot your credit card into the ticket machine and enter the booking code (not sure why even that's necessary though, the credit card should be unique most of the time and it could always prompt for the code if you've booked multiple tickets). There are plenty of machines, though some are half-hidden on an opposite wall. Then you just slide your ticket into the departure gates and walk through. After that there are airport-type passport control, bag scanners and metal detectors. Don't know how or if you can check baggage in, but there's plenty of space on the train, with extra luggage racks by the doors as well as overhead compartments.
Did make a newbie mistake and went through the first departure gate, then had to barge through fourteen carriage-lengths of people to get to my seat. There are gates all along the platform, so you can just pick one near your place.
Got my bag searched which was irritating since I thought I was old, respectable and conservatively-dressed nowadays. My nifty aluminium glasses case might have been a disadvantage there: they have metal detectors at the major museums too and it seemed to confuse several security people.
The Eurostar economy class is comfortable for a 5'10'' guy like me: slightly more space than a UK intercity train, a lot more space than an economy flight.
Paris Day 1: Arrival
Quite a productive first day. Bit of a mixup at the hotel: room was apparently flooded, so they sent me to another hotel in the same chain. Closer to the Louvre so all right with me: the first one was halfway between the Louvre and the Eurostar terminal at Gare du Nord.
Seems slightly less electronical: the taxi driver had to be told where to go by me, and when we got to the hotel the receptionist had to go out and pay him in cash. Driver was very polite and fairly friendly despite some confusion. Didn't really see any of the legendary Parisian rudeness, but that was probably because I stuck to the tourist trail only really spoke to people in the tourist industry. You'd have to be pretty dumb and arrogant to openly insult the people whose money you depend on, after all. So it probably only happens in London.
Room was OK. Smallish single but comfortable: AC and own bathroom. Has a strange dry minibar, with soft drinks and snacks at about five times local prices. TV costs 12 Euro per day when you switch it on, so didn't bother.
Paris Day 1: Musée d'Orsay
Bought a Paris Museum Pass: don't think it saved me much money but saves an awful lot of queuing, so well worth it. Louvre is closed Tuesdays so went to the Musée d'Orsay instead.
Blown away by the sheer volume and variety there. It concentrates on late 19th and early 20th century stuff, including the Impressionists: they've just got room after room after room of great art. You can see the same names in the London galleries, but what would be a highlight in London is just a random piece of wall here. Particularly struck by Gaugin's paintings and the Monet and Renoir nudes. Recognized a couple of things from when they visited London. like a sculpture of a dancer by Degas.
Paris Day 1: Tour
Also strolled around a bit: went down to Ile de Paris (river island, linked by bridges, oldest part of the city) ands saw the Hotel de Ville, Palais de Justice.
Walked around and inside the cathedral de Notre Dame. Looks surprisingly squat and solid from the front, almost more like a fortress than a church. Impressive from the sides though, and with a powerful atmosphere of age inside. Lit a couple of candles, probably sacrilegiously but what the hey.
After that braved the Metro and the RER (overland rail). Dead easy to use, providing you remember that different RER trains use the same platforms. Ticketing is much simpler than in London, and machines easier to use. Some have touch-screens, but the older ones have a different system: after a couple of minutes of stabbing futily at the screen I realised you have to roll a little roller-cylinder gadget to select the right menu option, then press OK/cancel buttons to proceed. Pretty cheap: 1.4 Euros to go anywhere one-way in the central zone: you get a little paper ticket which you stick in the automatic gates and retrieve.
Didn't try it in the rush hour, or later than 22:30, but was not too crowded, comfortably cool, and with astonishingly sober passengers in the evening.
Went up the Eiffel tower at dusk. Found it surprisingly nerve-wracking to trust in the ancient looking machinery. Somehow would have felt safer if the giant exposed cable guide wheels weren't painted a cheery yellow. Superb view from the top, though it closed in a bit with the rain. Queue was about 15 minutes: there are ticket offices in each leg.
Ate at a brasserie near the louvre. Veal escalope in mushroom sauce: nice, though a little tougher than I was expecting.
Operation Become Less Fat
CW: 11st 10
SW: 14st 4
Loss: 36 pounds
Loss per week: 1.4 pounds
Still managed to lose a pound: spending all day walking around must have compensated for the extra calories.
Saturday 27 May 2006
Breakfast: 2 tea, sausage roll, 2 large slices bread, piece cheese, 2 olives, tomato.
Lunch: 125g venison leg steak (140kcal, 28g protein), potatoes, broccoli, 1 carrot, 1 parsnip.
Supper: 4 slices bread, 3 slices ham, tomato.
Snacks: 1 tea.
Booze: 1 beer, 1 whisky
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+. Light and heavy weight dumb-bells
Sunday 28 May 2006
Breakfast: 2 coffee. 2 slices bread, chicken broth, piece ham
Lunch: Chilli con carne, rice, butter. Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia frozen yoghurt. (169kcal,4g)
Supper: 2 slices bread, mini steak and kidney pudding, tomato. Choc and black cherry dessert.
Booze: 2 whisky
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+.
Monday 29 May 2006
Breakfast: 2 coffee, 2 slices toast, 2 eggs, 3 slices pastrami.
Lunch: 125g venison leg steak (140kcal, 28g protein), potatoes, broccoli, 1 carrot, 1 parsnip. Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia frozen yoghurt. (169kcal,4g)
Supper: 3 pieces bread, chicken soup, 2 pieces cheese spread, 2 slices pastrami
Snacks: 1 hot choc with splash whisky
Booze: 1 whisky
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+. Dumb-bells: light 5kg 3x10, medium 7,5kg 3x10, heavy 12.5kg 3x10.
Tuesday 30 May 2006
Breakfast: 2 coffee, 4 small pieces bread with cheese spread,2 slices pastrami
Supper: Veal escalope in mushroom sauce, chips, tiny side salad. 1 chocolate
Wednesday 31 May 2006
Breakfast: 2 croissants, bread roll buttered, 1 piece cheese, 1 piece salami, orange juice, 2 small coffee, pain au chocolat.
Lunch: Orange juice, small brie baguette
Supper: rabbit stuffed with stuff on a bed of spinach. Choc, merigue, ice cream dessert. Bread roll. Toast and stuff.
Booze: 2 red wine
Thursday 1 June 2006
Breakfast: 1 croissant. 2 bread rolls with cream cheese, slice ham, orange juice, 3 small coffee, pain au chocolat.
Lunch: Rabbit leg and terrine of duck with salad, potatoes, mushrooms. Orange juice.
Supper: 400g potatoes, 2 beefburgers, Ratatoulle, Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia frozen yoghurt
Second supper: bread roll with cheese spread
Booze: 1 beer, 3 whisky
Friday 2 June 2006
Breakfast: 1 slice bread, 1 jumbo pasty
Supper: 3 slices bread, 1 piece cheese, Chunky Chilli soup. "Count on Us" strawberry trifle.
Second supper: 4 very small slices bread, 2 slices tongue, 2 olives. Large mango.
Booze: 2 whisky, 1 Baileys.
Exercise: 5BX Chart 4 Level A+. Dumb-bells: light 5kg 3x10, medium 10kg 3x10, heavy 14kg 3x10.
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