Monthly Archives: December 2010

A passenger in London

To get from loca­tion to loca­tion, Mike took us around on his yel­low 500cc Yamaha T‑Max, my first time on a motor­cy­cle. It was a sen­sa­tion­al feel­ing to be mov­ing so freely in the open air, even in a London win­ter (you can see ear­ly morn­ing con­den­sa­tion on his wind­shield in some shots and the win­dows of some cars). I’d be lying if I said I was­n’t now con­sid­er­ing a bike for my next vehi­cle.

I thought I’d have to keep hold­ing onto the side rails to pre­vent myself from falling off, but quick­ly real­ized it was­n’t nec­es­sary, as I felt sta­ble at every turn and on every bump. The physics still baf­fle me.

One advan­tage of using the bike is that you don’t have to pay a con­ges­tion charge, some­thing used by the admin­is­tra­tion of London to dis­cour­age traf­fic and fund the trans­porta­tion sys­tem. Otherwise, it’s an £8 fee when enter­ing the down­town-ish area on a week­day between 7am and 6pm (and a £150 fine if you dri­ve through with­out pay­ing). Also, you can weave between the gaps in cars and make your way to the head of traf­fic lines.

Europe 2010 travel diaries

UK Detour, Day 11: London

Mike was between jobs, so I got to shad­ow him with­out being too intru­sive. That not only meant I got to check out his favourite haunts, but meet more impor­tant peo­ple in his life.

At one point, I had to with­draw some cash (since Mike had pre­vi­ous­ly lied to me about my cred­it card not work­ing), and it was strange to sud­den­ly find three dif­fer­ent kinds of cur­ren­cy in my wal­let.

men on benches

So close yet so alone.

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UK Detour: Day 10, Chartres to London

On my last day in Rochefort-en-Terre, I receive an e‑mail ask­ing for sup­port for my Wu Wei theme. This isn’t uncom­mon; ear­li­er this year, Wu Wei was cho­sen to be part of the offi­cial repos­i­to­ry, and I’ve been flood­ed with such e‑mails since. What stood out about this one, from a Michael Harvey, was the fact that he was in London, read from my blog that I was in France, and offered to show me around if I hap­pened to be stop­ping by.

I told him it’d be love­ly if I could go, but I’ve no place to stay, as I’d only planned on going to France. On a whim of his own, he offers to let me stay with him, and tells me I’d feel at home as they have two cats.

For a while I turn this idea over in my head, as there’s most cer­tain­ly a risk involved in liv­ing with some­one you’ve nev­er met, least of all whether or not you’d even get along. Eventually, I decide that I could­n’t give up on the chance to see more of Europe. Fate opened a door, and I only had to step through. I could­n’t say no.

And so, armed with a tick­et for the EuroStar and a box of assort­ed mac­a­roons (one of the spe­cial­ties in Chartres) for my new host, I set off for London.

Chartres train station

In Chartres, wait­ing for the train to Paris — Gare Montparnasse.

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France: Day 9, Rochefort-en-Terre

It’s so nice to be accept­ed into anoth­er fam­i­ly, and to be able to live the way they do for a bit. You get a taste of some­one else’s life and habits. That’s when a trip is more than just a vis­it to a dif­fer­ent place, and becomes an expe­ri­ence.

And on our last day in Rochefort-en-Terre, there were still things to do and dish­es to eat.

cleaning mussels

Cleaning the mus­sels for steam­ing in white wine and onions. This is how Frédéric won Misun’s heart.

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France, Day 8: La Roche-Bernard

La Roche-Bernard is a small com­mune 30km due south of Rochefort en Terre, with about the same pop­u­la­tion. It’s said that the town has more boats than peo­ple; the rich leave their ves­sels in the port until they have a few weeks of vaca­tion, and take off from here after arriv­ing by car or train.

It was orig­i­nal­ly a viking colony, tak­en up as a fort because it con­trols access to the riv­er that runs through it. The hills above are still pock­marked with stone walls and canons on the hills above.

La Vilaine

La Vilaine is the main riv­er run­ning through La Roche-Bernard, flow­ing out into the Atlantic Ocean.

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