Saying Goodbye To The European CONTINENT

Or, Bless in Icelantic, Farvel in Norwegian and Danish, Au revoir in French, Auf Wiedersehen in German and ¡Adiós! in Español.

I haven’t posted since Wednesday evening July 30.  I checked out of my guest house at 7:00 AM on July 31, loaded up my VW Polo diesel  and set the GPS to the address the car rental agency gave me and headed back to Bilbo.  The drive was without incident although a couple of times the GPS would tell me to drive on a given route and for x number of kilometers and all of a sudden it would say “recalculating”.  That always sends a chill up my spine especially when I am trying to follow its directions explicitly.  A good example was while I was on what we would call an interstate the GPS started “recalculating” and told me to turn left in 400 meters.  That would have had me crash into the guard rail.  So I just ignored it and just hoped it would get me back to the rental car agency.  I ignored all of the “recalculating” warnings and the GPS took me exactly where I needed to go.  By the way I managed about 42 miles per gallon if my math was right in converting liters into gallons and kilometers into miles.  I may be off a little to either the plus or minus side of the 42 MPH.

After dropping the car off, I took the metro to the bus station to purchase a ticket to Hendaya  France leaving that day.  I was doing this on the advise of the desk clerk at the hotel.  Well the bust station, if you want to call it a bus station.  It is completely outdoors and the place was a zoo.  With about six different bus lines and not one sign to point you in the direction of the bus line one needs to go to in order to reach a particular destination.  Of course the first line I got in was incorrect.  But the person at the counter told me which bus line I needed to take.   Once I found the correct bus line I had to wait almost an hour to get to the ticket window.  I still haven’t figured out why it takes many people so long to purchase any king of transportation ticket.  But I need to get off my soap box about what seems to me as indecision.  I purchased my ticket and while doing that I learned the bus does not go to Hendaya  France but Irun, Spain which is just across the bridge from Hendaya. So having purchased the bus ticket and learning I would have to get over the bridge to France, I now had to wait 3 hours for the next bus since the two buses before the 2:15 PM bus were full.  I got something to eat since I did not have breakfast, then sat on a bench, read and snoozed a little bit. Once I got on the bus it was a 2 hour and 15 minute ride along the north coast of Spain.  It was actually a beautiful ride.

The bus arrived pretty much on time in Irun and the bus station was just across the street from the Renfe station.  It makes me wonder if the bus really was the best alternative to the train.  No matter it only cost me seven Euros.

Once off the bus I asked directions to the correct bridge to get to Hendaya and then learned there was a Metro station just two blocks from the Renfe station and that would take me into Hendaya and the Metro stop is right in the Hendaya SNCF station.  As I exited the Metro station I saw my hotel which as they said was right across the street from where I would take my TGV the next morning to Paris.  I checked into my one night stand hotel and the desk clerk recommended an very nice and inexpensive place to to eat.

Next morning I had to walk maybe 200 steps to the train station.  The train left on time and arrived in Paris on time.  Of course getting around in any Paris train station is a chore especially with baggage because they are always jammed with people.  This being a Friday and the official start of holiday for the French it was even more crowded.  So I just took my good old time since I knew where I was going and how to get there.

Once I arrived at my hotel and checked in I gathered all of my clothes, and headed down the block to the Laundromat   I washed for the first time in three weeks my three short sleeved shirts and my four pairs of shorts.  That would be the load with colors.  In another washer I washed my polypropylene under ware and socks.  As you know I’ve been hand washing my under ware nightly but when I do laundry I wash everything.  Hand washing gets some of the dirt out and eliminates any oder but I don’t think hand washing is as effective so I am trying this approach of washing shirts and shorts once a month and I also give my under ware a good machine wash every month as well.  The under ware is holding up pretty much as expected.  Hand washing is hard on synthetic material and already I have a couple of small holes in the undershirts and am noticing pulls in the undershirts as well.  I can guarantee you that these four sets of under ware will not be returning to the US with me.

While I was in the laundromat a young man came in with a huge bag of dirty laundry.  He packed, and I do mean packed, with looked like every piece of clothing and towels in that huge bag into one of the large washing machines purchased laundry detergent, started the washer and left.  Well if any on you remember doing laundry at the laundromat you might remember those folks who did not come back for hours and their wash remained in the washer long after the washer was finished.  So when this French woman came in with a huge bag of laundry she asked me if the laundry in the washer was mine.  I said no it wasn’t and pointed to the two small washers with what was, really, a rather small load of laundry.  Once she discovered I spoke English she told me she was not going to wait for the owner of the wash to empty the washer.  So she proceeded to begin emptying the washer, piece by piece and also began a hilarious commentary on the condition of the clothes she was removing. That load of wash was pretty gross.  She held up socks, under ware all looking just as dirty as when they were put in the washing machine  To make matters worse the washing was packed so full that the detergent really did not dissolve properly and so there was un-dissolved detergent on some of the clothes.  She had me laughing so hard I was in pain.  She said guys like him, (it was obvious it was a guy) re-enforce the stereotype of the French who don’t bathe and wear dirty clothes.  i told her I did not believe that stereotype and there are the same types in the US as well.  Nationality has nothing to do with cleanliness.  I told her my mother would be appalled and that wasn’t the way I was taught to do laundry.  It was a most entertaining 90 minutes at the laundromat.

Once the clothes were clean, dried, and folded I headed back to my hotel, took a quick shower, got into clean clothes and headed to dinner.  After eating I decided to go for a walk around Bastille   I walked about two blocks and ran into a real repertory cinema where they were showing about eight films that day on three screens.  It made me nostalgic for the old TLA cinema on South Street in the days before video cassettes.  All of the films looked interesting.  However, none were American and the foreign films would be in French or the native language from the country they were made and subtitled in French so that theatre was out.  But my luck would change in just four more blocks where a cinema was showing Richard Linklater’s critically acclaimed film “Boyhood” in English with French subtitles.  The show started in ten minutes.  YES! I thought.  I paid my nine Euro’s and settled in for my first film in eight weeks.  God I miss going to the Ritz.  The movie was wonderful.  Barbara, if you’re following my blog you must see this film.  Shot over 12 years using the same exact cast, the film begins when the boy is six years old and follows him through his18th birthday and the first day of his first year in college.  Well worth anyone’s time and money.  As you know I really get mad when people talk or text during a film and have gotten myself in trouble more than once when folks refuse to keep quiet or insist on texting during a film.  why would you want to pay good money to see a film and then text through it?  At this theatre last night they shut off the digital projector after the previews, turned the house lights up and give everyone a minute to finish their texting and turn off their smart phones.  During the film the theatre was silent expect when something happened that would cause an audience to what one would expect happens when collectively sharing a movie together.  actualI think that is a great approach short of blocking mobile phone reception in a theatre which is a measure I think should be adopted.  Are you listening to me Landmark Theatre's?

So now as I write this latest posting I am at the halfway point of this 91 day adventure.  This is a great time to give you some statistics so far.

1. I have visited seven countries.  I consider I have visited a country if I have been in that country at least overnight.  Those countries are: Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Germany, France, and The United Kingdom (the Channel island of Jersey)

2.  I’ve traveled 9,519 miles including the trip I am now taking to London via Eurostar from Paris and my train trip to New York City and JFK Airport, my flight to Iceland, my flight to Oslo and my flight from Munich to Barcelona.  These are all nautical miles so my actual miles traveled is probable more but it’s close enough.

3.  I’ve visited 19 cities.

4.  I’ve stayed in 15 hotels and the homes of two friends

5.  I’ve traveled by airplane, taxi, bus, metro, streetcar, train, ferry and automobile.

6.  I’ve been in temperatures in the lower 40’s to near 114 degrees.

7. I’ve washed under ware and socks by hand 39 times and have done laundry three times.

8. I have not lost anything yet but almost lost my passport and Eurail Pass.

9. My only injury was a small scrape on my left knee caused when I was walking up and down a series of steps in the Paris Metro and the rubbing of my suitcase eventually broke the skin and caused the scrape and caused bleeding.  I now place a bandage on that particular spot on the side of my left knee to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

10.  I’ve packed and unpacked 19 times.  So my average stay is a little over 2 days in each city.  To break that down further, I spent a week in Iceland, a week in Norway although I changed where I stayed three times during the course of that week.  I spent five days in Seville, four days in Madrid, two days in Mont St. Michel, two days in Paris and two days in Munich.  All the rest were overnight visits.  I do feel somewhat nomadic.

Those are the statistics I can think of at this time.  If there is anything else you want to know please don’t hesitate to ask me.

In a hour or so I’ll arrive in London for just one night, then to Salisbury, England for three night then I take a ferry to Ireland.

I’ll tell you about todays Eurostar trip tonight or tomorrow.



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