Travel and stress go hand in hand. Jörg wanted to get back to his lovely wife. Off to Paris airport.
Taxi – VERY expensive!
Berlin, huge taxi queue.
Probably miss last train.
Colleague has car.
Take Jörg to suburban station.
Filling station shut
Motorway to suburb closed
Plea to Almighty
They beat the train!
Jörg settles down comfortably for the journey to his city.
What more could happen?
“Why the hell are you so late?”
“Excuse me, do you speak English?”
The old man standing on a corner behind L’Opéra approached me in a non-threatening way and continued when I nodded.
“I’m from New York; I’ve just been robbed!”
Pregnant pause... I questioned him. I was suspicious; I knew what it was like round there.
“Wow, that’s awful! Take everything you had?”
“Yeah, made off with my wallet.”
“Absolutely everything?” I asked quizzically.
“Except this ten Euro bill.” He indicated the note in his left hand.
“I accept, thanks.” I took the note and walked off, adding “Not your lucky day, is it sir!”
Took Metro 4 hours before flight home. Airport bus at Opéra, but where?..one click on stressometer. Asked around, none knew!.. click! 15mins finding stop.. click! Rains.. click! Every 20mins?.. over 40mins, no bus.. click!
Bus arrives, won’t let us on.. click! Changing driver.. click!
Seated in dense traffic.. click! Barely moving.. click! One hour to airport? Liars!.. click! Crawling to Périphérique... click! Accelerating, yippee! Screen shows progress – T1 16mins, T3 36mins. WHAT ABOUT T2, MY TERMINAL?.. click! No information.. click!
T2 after T1, (phew!). Flight delayed.. click!
Fasten belt... CLICK!
Is guy in next seat a terrorist?.... unclick!..... QUICK!
Flat on the deck, left for dead, mine had been a good life. Able to go wherever I chose, whenever I wanted, I had the freedom to go it alone or enjoy the companionship of my extended family. I always thought our ‘all for one and one for all’ way of life would keep me safe.
I was wrong. Lying, dying, ignored by my assassins, I make one desperate attempt at freedom. No luck. To add insult to injury, others are hurled on top of me. Escape impossible, suffocation certain.
The afterlife? Waiting for my companions in death, French fries.
What DO I think I’m doing? Sitting outside Cafe de Flore on busy, classy Boulevard St Germain drinking beer with an Italian friend of mine. He’s no spring chicken and as for me, well the arthritis says it all!
Melo (not his name - he knows who he is!) tells me we must check out the beautiful girls tripping by; it’s his duty as an Italian! But checking out’s not enough for Melo, he tries to talk to them all as well. My chatting up rusted up 50 years ago, but my French is better than Melo’s. Touché, but never touch!
I was lurking outside the Louvre, when a woman walked briskly by, heading towards the Jardin des Tuileries. Very purposeful, but not like she was on some kind of fitness regime, she knew where she was going and was not wasting time. I liked the look of her from behind, the way she dressed, her confidence – very Parisienne.
Unseen, I followed, past Place de la Concorde, the Grand Palais, following the river, turning south near Trocadero across La Seine to her final destination. Exhausted, I leapt into the express lift behind her. She turned, so beautiful, in love Eiffel.
Today we were lost in Paris.
The bus dropped us exactly where we’d been told. “A 5-minute walk to the hotel”; that would wake us up after an early morning flight! Practicing my best schoolboy French, I popped into a street corner bar to ask directions to our hotel. I think they said “there’s no Ibis hotel in this neighbourhood, so get lost mate!”
Panicking, we checked the online maps on our phones. There was our hotel, just 250 metres away, but the other side of the Périphérique. Technically in another city. Talk about petty! (or is it petit?)