Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pari' again

Well, I didn’t manage to get a single picture in Paris. Work was as frustrating as ever. Lots of sitting around and waiting for them to do something. The second day, I just started working on my own stuff. Probably was able to get about 3 hours worth of work in the 2 days I was there. I will never put my money in a French bank.

Monday night, my Paris friend Vero and I went to a Chinese restaurant from the Shang Dong (sp?) area of China. It was excellent, quite possibly the best Chinese meal I have had. It was in the 13th district but that is about all I know. Not sure if I will be able to find it again. I ate myself (nearly) sick and then we stayed up way too late in discussion. One of the French traits I admire is the interest in conversation for the sake of conversation and expanding your mind.

Tuesday night I went to a restaurant that, while it would have been acceptable to good in England, was really disappointing in france. Ahh well, can’t win em all.

Spent Weds working in the hotel bar, Christmas shopping and wandering around Paris. The Christmas market in Montparnasse was quite nice. I tried to go to the La Fayette Market as I was told that there was a sight to see there. Something akin to the windows on 5th ave as far as I could tell. When I got there, however, it was basically a Macy’s. Not where I wanted to do any of my Christmas shopping, I forgot about the windows and continued on my way. Through this whole day, I forgot my camera. So no pictures of Paris or the (suitably picturesque) Champs Elysses and Arc de Triumph all lit up for Christmas.


Originally uploaded by cornasdf.
So it’s official, I like Holland. Rotterdam wasn’t much of a town. With a population of about 6-800,000 people, there was just a few “hip” streets. I wouldn’t live there long term. I was supposed to be there about 28 hours but I caught an earlier train. 24 hours was just about right. Despite all of that, the Nederlands still has that feel that I like. Rotterdam, which was apparently devastated in WWII, is very new architecturally. This is fine with me, they have lots of interesting buildings. Even if some of their architecture is perhaps too “noveau” for my tastes, I like that they didn’t pull a Belgium and try to rebuild everything as it was.

It wasn’t “tourist season” so I couldn’t do one of the things I had wanted to. They have some Euromast thing, I am assuming it is similar to a Space Needle. This one, though, you can repel out of. Unfortunately, it is only open during the summer. Alas…

I did sleep on a boat though. I booked into the Clipper Hotel which was a house boat. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I booked it. I arrived at the side of the canal and climbed down a sketchy iron ladder to get on this house boat. Entering, I was in somebody’s living room. There were 3 medium dogs and a (rather bratty) kid. “Mom” was a young woman, younger than me, I believe, who checked me in. She was courteous, though not friendly. While she was dealing with one of the boy’s little temper tantrums, I admired his art and school papers posted around the house. Very homey feel. I had booked out a double room for myself and ended up with a small twin bunk bed with a port-hole window. Though it was cramped and some what an odd scene, I was boyishly excited to be sleeping on a boat.

After getting settled in, I headed out to see what Rotterdam (or Ro-Town, as the cool kids call it) had to offer.

I was in a good mood heading out and Ro-Town didn’t disappoint. I stopped in a small bar to get my bearings and was treated to an excellent beer (Belgian, I believe). Wandered towards the ‘hip’ area. Most of the shops and what not were closed down but I did find a pool spot. Randomly, the bartender at this pool place gave me a quick history of some of the battles in the civil war. He was apparently writing a book on the US Civil War. Go figure. We chatted for a while and I went up to shoot pool.

The pool table was excellent. The dutch really care about their games (probably why I like them). The table looked old and the felt was worn. After playing a couple of shots though, you could see, or rather feel, that this was a quality table. I shot for a couple of hours and decided to see what else I could find.

I wandered a bit, got dinner at some bar, and pretty much covered all of the downtown areas of Rotterdam. A far cry from some of the larger cities where there is a bar or café every couple of feet, Rotterdam has a select set of establishments that stay open. After wandering around a bit, I found a casino that was playing the new Bond film. Pretty good actually.

Wandering back to my boat, I was a bit worried about navigating that ladder in the wet, dark, slightly intoxicated state. I was very surprised to find that I the 6 or so hours I had been gone, the water level rose about 8 feet. I had to step up to get into the boat. Ocean tides and what not. Since Rotterdam is mostly under sea level and protected by a series of dikes, I didn’t think the tides would affect them. I suppose they could be ‘man made’ for some purpose. Flushing the system perhaps?

Anyway, I checked out the next day and saw that I was staying right next to the cube houses. Some fancy housing experiment, they are basically cubes standing on one corner. It seems like a pretty inefficient way to build a house. Some 20% of the space is un usable due to the slanting walls. Ahh well, progress.

I went to the local art museum and saw a Magritte exhibit. Really good, quite a few things that I would hang on my wall.

After that, I went and found a café near the train station to pass the time until my train left. This place had a pinball game that I got to playing. This was another example of high quality games as it was much better built than most pinball games I have played. Real carved figures inside, lots of mechanics and less flashing lights. The flippers had a very analogue feel.

Wandering around, I realized that New York was founded by the dutch and both towns had something in common. I couldn’t quite place my finger on it, but there is something there. Maybe just a feeling.

Well, they say Amsterdam to play, Rotterdam to work, and the Hague to live. I guess the Hague is my next destination.