Issue 9 Contents

Travel Pain

So we decided to indulge ourselves and invest in a European vacation. Because Mike spent some time in a cult in Paris, we decided to revisit.

Because we're cheap, we flew in cattle-car-coach-class. This shit is miserable.

You can get a better seat on a Greyhound bus then you can flying for over 5 hours. Mike's 6"1 body and various psychosis required he enjoy the aisle seat while I sucked up the middle. The snoring asswipe in the seat next to me stole more space than he had any right to and I bruised my legs trying to push his out of my seating area. He rarely budged and if he did, a few short minutes later I'd be knocked off the arm rest and crambed into the corner of my sorry excuse for a seat.

The flight from Boston to Heathrow was hell. Don't expect to see the movie if you're not in the front row and you're only 5"2. Don't expect those codeine pills to work either. NOTHING will provide relief. Exhausted and bitter by the time we arrived Heathrow, we still had to hop another flight to Paris and then connect with the Paris underground to get us to the city. By the time we boarded this train we were ready for divorce. When we finally made it to Paris, we were ready for murder. With more than a little confusion, we finally began hiking in the right direction to get to our hotel.

Of course our room wasn't ready. Of course when it came time to tell us it was, in fact, ready, the maid went on break instead. Of course I can hear every footstep and fart of the guy in the room above me.

Visiting Europe is about walking. Walking tours of the city are de riguer. You should be happy to stroll for 6-8 hours a day. At least you're not standing still waiting on line in the hot sun at Disney. Even the attractions require walking. If you visit the Louve, the biggest favor you can do for yourself is bring a wheelchair. Sure, it makes getting out of some of the smellier rooms slower going, but overall it will be a boon to your existence. I wouldn't know first-hand, but I know what longing feels like. Bring the chair.

I am happy to report that in comparison with a visit 10 years ago, toilet paper has improved greatly. Do not underestimate the importance of this valuable commodity. While the french may have finally begun to understand the importance of two-ply, you are stilll very far from the hometown feeling of cottonelle and you will miss it sooner than you think. Also beware all those attractive french pastries. Certainly they look and taste delightful, but digestively speaking, there is Danger.

DO NOT attempt to circumvent the busy season's prices by visiting in March. We saw the sun once for five minutes. The rest of our trip was accented by cold, damp breezes and consistent rain. Bring an umbrella and lock it down so it isn't stolen by your airline as mine was. By the way, if you buy an electricity converter to charge the old razor & camcorder be advised our square radio shack model (gone the way of the umbrella) wouldn't have worked in the round french sockets anyway.

Don't get sick in Paris either, at least not without your trusty US sudafed. I learned the hard way they dissolve their medicines in water instead of providing pills. Chug that lemon crap three days in a row and you'll desire vengence as much as I did. I promise. Don't fuck around. Bring cough drops and tissue unless you want to be dependant on Spartus Eucalyptus and xerox paper kleenex.

Oh and if you're sick, an evening boat tour on the Seine probably isn't the best idea. The breezes off the water are enough to make one believe Alaska is toasty and they hang like thee u-eys so most of the trip is redundant. Redundancy in the face of blistering cold is even more grating than you can imagine.

I guess now's about the time I should provide the Be Sure To Visit list, but instead I'll be honest. If you go to Monmatre and some would-be Monet offers to do your portrait, say No. I had one done and while it was technically 'nice' of the girl to paint me better looking than I am, further reflection leaves you feeling simply cheated.

By all means go to Notre Dame. They cleaned the hell out of it and it is genuinely luminous. The bummer is when you go inside and follow a bunch of people from Jersey and Tokyo around trying not to step on their disgusting french candy wrappers and discarded train maps.

Consider it a central repository for all that is good and evil in the world.

The last 2 hours of the 7 hour flight home consited of the following: "Ding Dong, sorry to interrupt you folks, this is the captain. We're encountering some turbulence and I'm going to ask you to return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts." This is followed by 90 seconds of freedom to watch my movie. Then, ""Ding Dong, sorry to interrupt you folks, this is the captain. Just wanted to let you know, Duty-free shopping is still available. Simply press the attendant call button and we'll take care of you."

Another 90 second reprieve from announcements is granted before, ""Ding Dong, sorry to interrupt you folks, this is the captain. We'll be sending snack service around in a few minutes." I don't know why they don't just send out the carts, there's really no need for them to be preceeded by an announcement. Most notice the carts as they block anyone from going to the bathroom or stretching their legs and the stewardesses or whatever you want to call them are are clearly hostile. One elbowed Mike rather roughly.

Fortunately, they only have to work a few minutes before, "Ding Dong, sorry to interrupt you folks, this is the captain. We're not going to be able to provide hot drinks due to the turbulence, but cold drinks will come around in just a few minutes." He's barely finished and rung off again before he again interrupts, "Ding Dong, sorry to interrupt you folks, this is the captain. We're not going to be able to distribute any drinks because we dont want to endager the attendants."

I am close to losing my mind when he has the nerve to ring in again with, "Ding Dong, just wanted to let you know we're about an hour and 45 minutes away from Boston and the weather's pretty bad, we'll let you know more shortly." All I want to do is watch the god-damn Cider House Rules after mistakenly choosing to suffer through the crap that was The Talented Mr. Ripley but the captain wants to let me know it's now time for, "Ding Dong, sorry to interrupt you folks, this is the captain. This is your last opportunity to purchase duty-free products...we have a very nice selection and are happy to take care of your shopping needs..." You wont believe this, but after the last announcement they disabled my tv. No more Cider House Rules. I have nothing to distract me from the screaming pain of an airline-induced ear infection, a buttload of turbulence, and the anticipation of what promises to be a dangerous, possibly deadly landing.

Next time, I want a vacation, I'll just invite over a smelly rapist with an infectious disease and be done with it.