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During my travels, my compensation for free accommodation for one night, was for me to write a daily travel diary. Of how I got to my next location, the people who would host me, the food I was offered and everything else. Below you find the archives of the highly extensive reports. Know that English is not my native language and most reports were written at high speed around midnight. Enjoy.

Saturday, 26 May 2001
Saint Ouen (F) --> London (United Kingdom)

About how to get from Paris to London, with drinking a beer at a hockey tournament in Brussels, in one day
There I was, firmly sleeping in Samuels’ and Mauds’ livingroom, when Maud almost screamed me awake for breakfast – standing right next to the bed.

I got a quick shower and after breakfast Sam and Maud gave me tour on the famous flea market of Saint Ouen. There are no real stands here, but just one real block of this suburb is the market. It’s like walking through a normal city street, but everythings is mostly put on sale on the streets and you can get in for more.

It was strange to see the poor part of the market, with a lot of junk, and a rich part, where even gold and statues were sold. And in the ‘rich streets’ you won’t see poor people; you won’t see rich people at the poor part.

This interviewer Martin, from yesterday afternoon, tried to explain me about the big gap between the wealthy and the poor people in Paris. The rich can affort everything and go to restaurants, the poor can’t spend anything in this city, because –it’s true- is very expensive.

For example: one normal glass of beer was 30 French Francs, approximately 5 US-dollars!

When we got back to the apartment, I had to leave them very early already. I thanked them for the hospitality and they even provided me a little lunchbag with some candybars, some cokes and some French sandwiches.

I headed to the Gare Du Nord, the Northern trainstation in Paris, where I had to take the Thalys-highspeed-train to Brussels at 12.55.

What made me a bit angry is that there are absolutely no signs for foreigners who don’t speak English at this very impartant gateway to Paris. So after standing in the wrong lines to get my reserved and sponsored trainticket a few times, I was finally standing in the right line as number 13 – it was 12.15.

At 12.50 I really got pissed off because of an English elderly couple standing at the desk at the moment, couldn’t get a train out of Paris for today – everything was sold out or reserved. So for over 15 minutes they started to complain to this clerk about getting out on any other way, so the guy had to make numerous phonecalls – while simple me was just waiting to get my ticket, which was only 10 feet away from me.

Lucky me I made it to the right platform into the right train at 12.55 exactly. I found my seat and planted myself for a trip from Paris to Brussels within 2,5 hours.
Maybe you haven’t experienced something like this before, but this train was moving with a speed of almost 200 km/hr – really fast!

I arrived at the Brussels National Airport around 3pm and checked in at the Virgin Express check-in-counter. In return of giving away my backpack I got a boarding pass to get on the plan at 7pm tonight.

That’s when I decided to call this former-host of mine in Brussels, of who I remembered she organises this hockey tournament this weekend.

When I got her on the phone she was very suprised and suggested to pick me up from the airport and spend the afternoon at this tournament.

So twenty minutes later I sat in her car and drunk some beer at this so-called Wild Orange-hockey tournament, with 10 teams from England, Belgium and Netherlands playing against each other, at this outsite of Brussels sports field. And of course there was beer!

It was very strange to explain those Dutch people I just arrived from Paris and I was on my way to London and decided to come over at their tournaent… They didn’t really get it, but for me it was a nice chance to try to hit this ball with the stick…

At 6pm Sophie brought me back to the airport and I got through costums and strandled a while along the tax free shops.

My flight TV5831 of Virgin Express and offered to me by the Belgian touroperator Majer & Partners (a handling agent for a lot of travel agencies in Europe) departed from Brussels around 7.35pm and I arrived less then one hour later at London Heathrow Airport.

It was a small Boeing 737 plane, carrying with only a few passengers. When the plane was in the air for just a couple of minutes everybody got offered a cup of tea or coffee and a glass of water. I drunk the coffee, looked outside the window twice and landed in London already.

According to the plane-captain it was around 23 degrees Celsius out here, but when I got out of the plane and walked through the jetway it felt warmer and just more humid than the dry hot sun in Paris. I think I can handle the United Kingdom pretty well.

I got my luggage from the dispenser and changed the 200 Belgian Francs I got from Sophie in Brussels into British Pounds, so I could get myself onto the London Underground ‘tube’ to the right address.

That was all very easy! Only this damn ‘tube’ had a lot of troubles. That meant I had to get on this extra bus service, that brought me some subway stations further, but this problem repeated itself a couple of times.

So this is how to get from Paris to London within a day. And it feels very strange, this trip was fully sponsored and didn’t cost me dime. And suddenly I am walking through the streets of London by night…

So arrived pretty late, around 10.30pm, at the Arts Café at Commercial Street (where Jack the Ripper committed his murders!) where my host for tonight, Paul Greenfield, was taking care of the sound system while a band was playing some funky music.

At a certain time, when the words about me being there got spread out over this café, I had to come on stage and do this little announcement about my project. “If there is anybody out here who wants to invite me over in London for this weekend, just come up to me,” was something I said in a hurry. A few people eventually came up to me later this night, asking for more information about my project and exchanging addresses and phonenumber. That was pretty much fun.

When the business closed around midnight, Paul took me up to the garden of the Vibe Bar, a really coisy place with a lot of people drinking and partying outside. When we got “Come on! Finish your drinks!” shouted at us, Paul got on this illegal taxi with this Indian driver who got us to Pauls’ house in London East End.

Paul got his pillows from the cough and placed them on the ground of his little apartment he lives on the 3rd floor. Together wit a blanket this was enough for me and I walked through the cities of London in my dreams…

Snork, snork...

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