One of Oliver's many cafés; one not
A Half-Speed Issueby Ric Erickson
Paris:- Monday, 17. July 2000:- On my holiday I got to Oliver in Canada by taking the Eurostar to London and a charter Airbus to Vancouver and then a tiny twin-engined mountain-hopping propeller plane to the Okanagan Valley, where a cabin at Gallagher's Lake Lodge motel was booked for me.
My watch conked out from all the time changes - which began in London right at the beginning. For this reason I don't know how long the trip in either direction took. Coming back it was one long day of the above in reverse; one whole day with two consecutive dates.
My return to Paris has been fairly recent, so this issue contains little about this city and much about other places. Many readers are frequent or seasoned travellers and may find this week's contents repetitious or boring, or both.
I am an infrequent traveller, and doing it on long-distance airplanes is something I only attempt about once every 15 years. Jet-lag is its usual aftermath, and waking up at 05:00 for no good reason is darn annoying.
On the other hand, waking up at 14:00 on Bastille Day was equally vexing; especially after I hyped myself into a frenzy and raced back to Paris to take it all in.
I did everything possible to avoid it, without success. If there is a next time, I will return by boat.Eurostar Stars
Taking the Eurostar from Paris to London is a snap, even if its fare structure gives the odds to the house. To start, I walked three blocks from my place to the RER station and got out at Waterloo station, somewhere in south London, right after a lot of railside junkyards.
Unlike Paris, London's underground 'métro' is operated by umpteen different companies, and they do not seem to share a unified map of the system.
If you need to use it, there are thousands of uniformed people standing around doing nothing but telling everybody which way to go. They were all very polite to me.
So, after dozens of emails and a couple of Web searches, I found myself bravely riding around on some of the antique and quaint Underground and jolty local trains to Badger's place, west of the city - helped by human advice-givers.Paddle-wheel steamers were once common on British Columbia lakes, which are also many.
I forgot to take the little booklet with all the necessary addresses and telephone numbers, so when I got to Badger's station I called telephone information to get his number. Amazingly, a live operator not only got his number; but succeeded in inducing another operator to dial it for me.
The three of us said 'good morning' to Badger and after a bit of a chat, I offered to put in the 20 pence required for the four-way conference call. They thought this was very decent of me; while I thought it was clever to have a 20-pence piece handy.
Badger picked me up in his 'motor' and we toured several local pubs within a radius of 50 miles seeking a late lunch, without success; so we had a homemade sandwich and later he barbied a chicken under grey skies cooler than in Paris.
Despite doubts about morning traffic he drove me with elan to Gatwick airport. I say 'with elan' because he has only had a drivers' license for a year and has to drive on the wrong side of the road as well.
Note for roundabout fans: these were invented in the UK and have become so popular that even criss-crossing back-alleys have them. Right-hand turns against on-coming traffic seem to be legal too, if a bit suicidal.Fresh food found no eager takers by high-altitude lake's silly fish.
This car ride effectively ditched half of my carefully plotted plans to reach Gatwick by local public transport; and I got bamboozled out of them on the return trip, by taking a mystery route through the non-charted Clapham Junction - which did lead directly if lumpily to Waterloo and the cozy 300 kph Eurostar train.Trans-Continental Air Travel
Gatwick airport is a zoo because its 'renovation' started three years ago and is projected to continue for another 11 years - until it reaches Wales, which is only twice the distance now needed to walk from somewhere to an airplane's door.
Even if a charter airplane is an Airbus 330, they are zoos too. Row 33 is over the wings by the emergency doors, so there is footroom in this row. However, it is reserved by ancient treaty for passengers to Calgary - where the aircraft chanced to land for an hour for some unknown reason.
This required the crew to replay the onboard bilingual videos advertising the charter company for the 14th time - but as boring as these were - bilingually - they were better than the inflight movie about a dog. The food was unmentionable but the service that divvied it out was friendly enough.
If any smokers are reading this, you should be aware that 'No Smoking' in Canada starts at Gatwick. I wanted to try out the smoke-detector in the toilet to make sure it wasn't a bluff, but I think the penalty for this is riding on the wing outside the door by row 33.
Eventually the big Airbus found Vancouver, quite near
the Pacific Ocean. It was warmer than London or Paris
outside. Inside the extra-huge airport, it was
air-conditioned and seemed ready to snow.>
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