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|June 12-20, 2003 |
T.J. introduces Fred to Picasso
I arrived in Paris on June 12th. The language barrier hit me hard so I sat down in the airport for 20 minutes just debating what to do. I finally decided I would walk around and whenever I heard English ask for some help.
It worked as the first person I asked happened to be going back into Paris and was only dropping his parents off to send them back to California. He turned out to be a little eccentric, but at least he helped me get out of the airport and into a good hotel. The next day I tagged along with a Canadian girl Id met and the eccentric gentleman to Versailles. It was massive and impressive.
Funny thing happened on the way there. The trains are on strike in France right now. Apparently the always hard-working French just up and decide to go on strike on a fairly regular basis. Trains still run but just not on time and on schedule. Also, they dont check your tickets, and half the time let you in for free (a bonus, for sure). Anyway, because of the strike we had to get off one train and get on a different one. I saw a guy with an American shirt and figured I would employ my airport strategy to see if he knew what was going on. When I went up to him I did a double take and before I could ask him if we knew each other he said, Wait, youre T.J. Brown! It was Justin Bright, an old friend from way back in the day. He was with his girlfriend and had been studying in Austria. We all went to Versailles and had a good time. Small world.
I then met my childhood friends Brad and Katherine (Ive know them since elementary school, and theyre dating) in Nice, France. The beach was all rocks, smooth river rocks. The water was very clear, though. That night we went to Monaco and the casino at Monte Carlo. Lots of Porsches, Mercedes and Ferraris over there. It was pretty fancy.
Next up was Barcelona. The city was great and there were lots of great things to see and do. Our hotel, however, was way overpriced but oh well, that seems to be the case with most things here except for bread and wine. In Barcelona we saw La Sagrada Familia (Antonio Gaudis unfinished cathedral), Casa Milà, his eccentric apartment complex, Spains Arc de Triomf, the aquarium, some cool statues of Christopher Columbus and such, and the Picasso museum, which had works from all of his period from when Picasso was 5 years of age to 80.
I finished Hemingways The Sun Also Rises. Not sure I liked it a whole bunch, but figured I should read it while in Spain.
We moved on to a small city named Alicante in southern Spain, near Valencia. The beaches are crowded but really nice, and the water is great too. I finally got a chance to go running so that was nice.
From here we plan to go to Madrid. Well go to the three main museums there and Ill get my fill of Spanish art before heading to Italy. Im really looking forward to Italy. It sounds amazing.
Wouldnt you know I picked the year to come to Europe when there have been all kinds of records being set for temperature at this time of year. All of the locals keep complaining about the heat wave. Most places dont have AC, so they arent equipped to deal with it. But it really isnt that bad. Feels like Texas in early May, and considering I left Texas in mid-June, I havent been complaining too much.
The food is good and the wine is better, but Im definitely tired of croissants for breakfast.
T.J. '03 and Fred
P.S. I was so glad to get to Spain where I could actually speak to locals and find out the interesting stuff. But their Spanish is very different from mine. Nevertheless, we can communicate quite easily, so that has been nice. I hope Italians can understand my English and/or Spanish because I couldnt speak a lick of French.
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