Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The wanderer's return

Quasimodo's place
I finally made it back to these shores, almost 4 days later than expected, thanks to the Iceland Volcano. It did have a couple of unexpected benefits, namely a longer stay in Paris and an extra concert we got to go to see by some Pacific Northwest friends who were touring in the Newcastle area. Our last night of freedom was spent trolling round the bars and restaurants near Notre Dame. All of the hotels were full (Quasimodo conference or something) so we decided to save our hotel money and spend it on good food and wine. Having accomplished the latter, we headed off to the underground to get the train back to the airport so we could sleep on the floor. It never occurred to either of us that the trains might not continue through the night, so we were shocked to see the last train to Charles De Gaulle was due in in 1 minute. The only ticket booth was broken and there was no-one around to help, so I tried to vault the turnstile. Big mistake. I caught my toes under the bar and spun round like one of those monkeys on a stick and landed flat on my back. I might have made it when I was 20, but not at 56 with an evenings worth of indulgence under my belt. Steve did the sensible thing and went underneath and helped my back to an upright, though slightly disheveled position. Needless to say, we missed the train. There we were, no tickets, no train and no idea as to what we were going to do next. After a bit of deliberation and a lot of wandering up and down the empty platform, we decided to take the next train to the Gare Du Nord and see if we could catch a bus. What made us think that might be a good idea or even a possibility is totally lost now. We arrived at the Gare Du Nord about 1.00 am to find the place deserted. We couldn't get over or under the turnstiles and were just about resigned to spending an uncomfortable night underground, when a cleaner opened one of the gates and left it open. We looked at each other, then with a silent nod, we ran across the platform and out of the door into a very dark and smelly back alley. Actually, smelly is an under statement. It smelled as if half of the population of Paris had just urinated down the gutters. Our noisy chatter had disturbed some of the resident homeless and several of them were getting up to investigate, so we legged it down the alley and onto a main street. The first (and only) hotel we saw was a Best Western, but it was closed. We banged on the door until the night porter showed up, and he reluctantly opened the door to let us in. The man obviously had a sense of humor, as he charged us 150 Euros for a broom cupboard. There was only one bed, so we separated the mattress from the box spring to make 2 beds, and in order for us to do this, we had to put the small amount of furniture that there was in the room out into the passage way and our luggage in the bath.  I stretched out on the mattress on the floor and could touch both walls with my hands and feet and fell asleep to the dulcet sounds of street violence and police sirens.
Apart from waiting 2 hours on the tarmac the next day, the flight home was very pleasant. A fitting end to a great trip. I got to drink in Northern Snippets new pub and sample the wonderful food, and I also got to see a friend from school who I had not seen in 38 years.

We played in some great venues and met new friends.
It is good to be home though.


  1. Glad you had a good time and that you are now home safely with lots of stories and adventures to tell your family

  2. What a night in Paris! I have to say I love the image of your attempt at hopping the turnstile, though I am sorry you were injured.
    We were trapped last year by that volcano. We had an extra week! We finally took a bus to Rome from Paris and got home that way, but I was frantic with worry over my children, the childcare was very cobbled together after our return date came and then went.
    Happy that you are home safe and it sounds like you had a swell time.

  3. It sounds like adventures we had in our 20's -ouch, sorry about your back though, but such a great story!

  4. I'm glad you're home safely. Did you get to The Ship? I was up there a couple of days ago....I don't think you'd been in to play your music??

  5. Glad to see that you are now home safely.

    Please tell me that you had enough socks and pants for the additional days? Or are you still trying to chip yourself free with a hammer and chisel?

    Ali x

  6. Glad you got back safely.
    Wondered if the flight had gone on time.

    There's a little news item on the pub web site about your visit. x
    Hello to Steve.

  7. How lovely you got to go to Northern Snippet's pubs! I'd love to go.

    Extra time in Paris sounds great, apart from the last bit!

    Your friend looks lovely xx

  8. what an adventure....very After Hours....the image of you attempting to vault the turnstile will I'm afraid keep me smiling all day....but at least you'll always have Paris..........

  9. Sounds like an adventure! My son is going to Paris this summer, as well as other places in Europe. I hope he can avoid 'Urine alley'.

    Quasimodo's Place - teehee.


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