Travel Journal Entry #5: Bonjour, Paris


As Brussels did not leave such a great memory in my mind, I was keen on traveling to Paris. We have seen now second class train couches from three different countries (Germany, Amsterdam and Belgium) and god damn the train was sweet this time from Brussels to Paris. 

Even though one has purchased interrail-ticket it does not mean that additional charges do not apply depending on the country you are traveling to/from. Belgium, France and Switzerland at least in our experience are countries which demand mandatory seat reservations. 

This means you have to pay from 9,00 EUR to 35,00 EUR additional to get on the train. We had to pay 20,00 EUR each this time to get our seats. However there is a plus side to mandatory seat reservation as you don’t have to change seats during the train ride (if someone has reserved the seat you’re sitting in, you have to move to somewhere else) which can bothersome if the coach is full.

The train from Brussels to Paris was operated by company Thalys which is known for international high-speed trains. The seats were large and comfy, we got a sweet durable folding table and charger-slots for mobile phones. Best train we’ve seen so far! Probably explains the higher seat reservation charge.

We reached Paris in two hours and the train station was buzzing with people! To keep up with our travel plan, we went straight ahead to book seats to our train to Bern, Switzerland next week. Then off to our hotel to take a small rest and make plans for the first evening in Paris.

We booked a two star hotel for four nights in the Luxembourg-region in Paris, as it was close to church of Notre Dame. The rate per night was also ridiculously cheap. Roughly 500 meters and there it was, Notre Dame! 

Notre Dame + tourists. Photoshoot 247.

After witnessing Notre Dame from all possible sides we went for a dinner and found a pretty swell indian restaurant. Korma chicken and naan bread never disappoints a hungry traveller.

Next morning started with a lengthy stroll through the Luxembourg Park which was built by the Medici family. The park was simply breathtaking due to the variety of plants and trees. In the middle of the park was also a enormous water fountain where the kids could steer toy boats. The air in the park was so fresh and really woke us up! 

Panorama picture of Luxembourg Park.

The exploration day continued with the French version of Pantheon. Basically the french people wanted to have a Pantheon that would outshine the one in Rome. So the architect Soufflot was given free hands and the result was le magnifique. The level of detail in the marble carvings were incredible. I have to compare this Pantheon to the original one when we get to Rome.

Pantheon, Paris version.

To top the day off we decided to head to the Louvre museum and check out the surroundings. There were so many people trying to imitate the Pisa-leaning-picture with the Louvre triangle. Ughh. Get creative people. In the end we decided to mess with the people and shoot photos where my friend was holding the tourists by their head while they were holding Louvre. Enticing.

Louvre. The place where Mona Lisa hides.

The kilometer counter after these local Paris attractions was already over five kilometers and our legs started to send signals to relax, so we headed to hotel and did just that. 

Tomorrow we have a date with the big F tower so I am sleeping like a baby tonight. Have a great one and see you later!

– George

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Travel Journal Entry #2: Auf Wiedersehen, Berlin

Six days in Berlin came to end today and it was time to pack our bags, leaving me to reminisce the last week. 

On Thursday night one of our finest friends came to Berlin to accompany our adventure for the weekend. It felt absolutely great to see familiar face in unfamiliar place! First stop on Friday was the Europes largest waterpark, Tropical Islands. In earlier post I mentioned that german people are a bit open than Finns in equal nudity in public spaces.

Large ceiling poster at the waterpark.

It didn’t take more than couple of steps to the locker rooms and I was greeted with a beatiful lady with no top on. Not sure if she had bottom on either as I politely did 180° and waited for my turn to use the lockers.
The waterpark did not work directly with normal currency, instead everyone wore electronic watches that kept a log of everything you spent in the waterpark and you had to clear the debt before departing. 

Entrance fee was 42,00 EUR and if you wanted to enter the Sauna & Spa complex, total was 49,00 EUR. In order to get most of the high entrance fee, we decided to spent almost the whole day there swimming and relaxing. 

It was super refreshing experience and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone in Berlin. Please do note that the waterpark is located 60km from Berlin centre so you need to buy train tickets to Brand Tropical Islands-station from Berlin Hbf. Then the free shuttle bus ride will delivers you to front gate.

On Saturday we started to get really thirsty and it was time to experience the 21st Berlin Beer Festival. The festival started near Alexanders Platz in the centre of Berlin and the beer tents kept on going from street to street. All roads near the event were securily barred to avoid any incidents, which reminded us travellers that terrorist attacks have claimed victims even in Berlin.

The event itself was glorious and had breweries from 74 different countries. Luckily we were able to buy 0.2dl tastemug so the alcohol did not totally ruin our day. However we did find one special beer which we had to try out! 

Berlin Bear next to Cannabis Strong 8%.

Although it did not contain any actual THC, it did the trick like any other alcohol. Sunday was all about recuperating, relaxing and spending the last day at the town laughing with my friends. 

Now the train has brought us to Amsterdam, Sin City of Europe. Guess we better soak up the experience and report back to you later! Have a good night!

– George

Vanity Card #52 – The How You Like Me Now

VanityCard52TheHowYouLikeMeNow

To set the right mood, press play.

The camera slides into focus with a wide lens capturing the whole office room. George sits at his work desk and drums the pen on the keyboard.  The song can be heard through the headphones and it visibly irritates the coworkers. Boss enters the room, assesses the situation and walks to remove the headphones. Dialog begins.

When was the last time you really felt freedom? Like you could do anyone and anything in the world? When was the last time you were thinking about your life and thought to yourself, man, I am winning this game so bad.

An hour later the man in question walks free from the conference room and the days of breathing damp office air are numbered. Tickets have been drafted, plans have been made. No more of this old mess.

I am getting ahead of myself here. There is still 60 days left. In conclusion, I have decided to follow my good friend’s wisdom of leaving everything behind for a while and search for experiences in the open wide world. Many would question my choices – our bloody generation was well tempered into a loop of eat, work and sleep repeat.

Tickets have already been purchased and now the ecstasy of planning enthralls the brain, going back and forth on all the possibilities and places to see. Truth is I have known already for a while my personal calling and during this year I am ready to go through all the hoops, hell and high water to achieve the goals set for 2017.

So all I can do tonight is to play this song over and over and over.

– George

See, I been a bad bad bad bad man.
And I’m in deep, yeah.
I found a brand new love for this man,
And can’t wait till you see.
I can’t wait.

So how you like me now?
How you like me now?
How you like me now?
How you like me now?
How you like me now?
How you like me now?
How you like me now?
How you like me now?
How You Like Me Now – Performed by The Heavy

Vanity Card #51 – The Countdown Sequence

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….

… Please…

…Stand by….

The following takes place between January 25th  – March 22nd.

The first three months of 2017 were truly a chaotic hell ride through hoops and high water. At the end of February, the three amigos; me and my two childhood friends; disbanded our shared apartment and we moved to different area codes. It was a fun year and a half, in a one wicked way or another I am going to miss it.

If life ever was a game of monopoly, I am currently residing near the starting line. The retreat from our earlier apartment was a hasty decision indeed and we all did not have a bulletproof plan where to find lodging after February. So I decided to grab my belongings and stash them into a storage space and stay here, at least for a while with my family. Not the perfect escape route I admit, but it’s a rent fee solution, the pros dominate the cons.

When the year changed to four new digits I promised myself that I would cut loose all the strings that had no meaningful purpose in my life and start anew, building a future for myself that I can live with my heart out. The plan has been in the works and now we’re closing on an important milestone. Please applaud my trusty countdown calendar on site!

Oh, now you are struggling to find it.

This is your captain speaking, if you please turn your head up and little to the left you are able to see the engine number two on fire and the sweet countdown sequence calendar.

Cabin crew, please prepare for emergency landing!

So what does the countdown calendar actually mean? Well, I believe that is a mighty fine story for the next Vanity Card, which I will not promise will be shortly published. I am a grouchy slouch after all. All I can say, I am cutting loose!

Enjoy your tick-tock-countdown-calendar!

-George

Vanity Card #49 – The Grand Curtain Call

vanitycard49thegrandcurtaincall

Oh, hello there! I did not see you there, glancing at my well written words and prepositions. You want me to supply you another Vanity Card? I must ask your endless forgiveness my dear friend as the rumors incite that the production has been stopped completely.

Did you not hear? Presumably the author struck into madness while trying to survive from a writing drought? The coppers found him running naked through the town streets only wearing a quill and an ink pot between his butt cheeks. Straight to skid row asylum, I tell you!

Now if you may escort yourself out of my premises, I bid you adieu!

Sorry for breaking out of character as this was all just a grand scheme, friendly banter, benevolent bamboozle my old’ chap! What a gullible crowd we have tonight – perhaps you have liquored your taste buds de trop already even though the clock has not struck midnight? Well, who am I to judge us all.

All I can say tonight is – I feel eminently ecstatic to turn the 2016 into 2017!

The truth is 2016 started with a thick dark haze – overshadowing the ignorance of what I genuinely wanted out of life – ending up working diligently through the mud just to have a breather every now and then. For months I used to be very talkative about the rational fear, the kind of fear that blocks you from turning your life upside down to see where you actually stand on the grand map of enjoyable life. Now I hunt for the perfect combination of meaningful work, enticing travel and casual leisure.

The few remaining months I pondered on and on about what drastic measures are the ones that must be maneuvered to gain a second chance at a happy life. One thing leads to another and since the domino blocks have already been laid out in the open, I will eagerly wait to topple the first one down as the year of 2017 starts rolling out!

I do want to invite you for the baffling journey and as my own New Year’s resolution, I will solemnly promise to start pushing out new content on a monthly basis.

Happy New Year 2017, I wish you all a great, grand adventure!

– George