Paris, France and the start of my trans-Mongolian train ride!
16.10.2005 - 21.10.2005
I had talked back in my entry on the Pantheon about how I thought it would be romantic to die and be buried in a foreign land. Also, though, I think it would be fun to live in a foreign country. As I travel from place to place to place, I am always on the lookout for places that I think I could live in. Maybe some day I'll actually pull the trigger and move some place for a year or two, but for now, it's just dreaming.
After having spent 7 weeks in the past year in Paris, living (in a hotel) and working, I think that Paris is pretty livable. I like the fact that the city is very easy to get around as a pedestrian or transit rider. In fact, Paris proper is pretty small, and you could probably walk across the whole city (excluding the suburbs) in a couple of hours. And I have already gushed about the metro lines, so I won't bore you with that again.
I also find that Paris has a very human scale. By that I mean that the buildings and streets are big enough that they feel like a city, but small enough as to not overwhelm you. Six or eight story buildings everywhere make the city feel approachable.
On the down side for Paris is the cost. Everything here is very expensive.
Also on the downside is a feeling I get. At first I chalked it up to the fact that I don't speak French, but I've heard other people mention it, and gotten some more clues so I don't think I'm off on this. Paris seems a very insular city, in that many people who live here never make it out of their little neighbourhood, and aren't very welcoming to a stranger in their mists. As I travel, I usually find myself sitting alone at a bar in some strange town. Often people will strike up a conversation with me, because I suppose I look sad and lonely. That has never happened in Paris, except once, and it turned out the people were from Canada and Belgium.
Anyway, so Paris gets a maybe on my "will I move here someday list." I could see it, but I'll still hold out. There may be somewhere else better in the world to live.
As the title of this journal and the short description suggests, this is about a rail trip from Paris to Hong Kong via Russia. I leave Paris in 2 days (21 Oct) and head east, eventually landing on the shores of Hong Kong (via inland) on the 5 Nov. I will pass through Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Mongolia and China along the way, making stops in Brussels, Moscow, Irkutsk (Russia), Ulan Bator (Mongolia) and Beijing. The trip will be about 10 days on the trains, and 6 days site seeing in the various cities. The route goes along the tran-Siberian and trans-Mongolian train lines built by the Russians (started by the tzars and finished by the communists), and along with other travellers, I can expect to run into a fair number of local Russians, Mongolians and Chinese on the train.
So, 2 days from now I will be on a high speed train to Brussels, where I plan to drink beer and relax. not sure if that makes for a very interesting journal entry, but be sure to stay tuned!
Here is a link to see what time it is where I might be: World Clock