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DAY 16 - Brezolles to Paris 20/10/2007

Oh what a day of contrasts – 18th century skeletons, red light areas and the train journey from hell.

We arrived in Paris at our expensive campsite at midday and set off to the rugby knowing we wouldn’t be back until 1.00am. First we went to the Catacombs which are underground tunnels where the dead are nice and tightly stacked from 1777 to some date. They ran out of room above ground and found this more efficient. There seems to be at least eight legs for every head and no feet, hands or pelvics bones. Apart from not being able to use the flash on the camera there is no protection of the bones and you can touch and rub against the bones with ease, or in our case let your teddies sit on them for a photo opportunity.

We then went on to Montmartre to see the Basilica, Moulin Rouge, the markets and of course had to go past all the sex shops. Not being big shoppers, especially in the sex toy product line, we spent more time eating. Roger had a Croque Madame, which is a ham and cheese toasted sandwich with an egg on top. I had a crepe. Basilica Sacre CoeurThere are Kiwis everywhere, especially in Irish bars getting extremely drunk before the rugby. I am not sure if they are still drowning their sorrows after the All Blacks losing two weeks ago or whether they are celebrating the scalping of their tickets.


Sacré-Coeur and the view over Montmartre

Overlooking Montmatre from Sacre Couer

We decided it was time to leave Montmartre and go to the rugby. The rugby experience started from midday when we caught the camp bus to the metro. The campsite is full of Poms all dressed in white and red sporting the St George flag or box of Belgium beer (not sure how that quite works). There is the odd fat, and I mean fat, South African. The bus only holds 20 people seated and 14 standing, however according to the man taking the money it can take 50-60 singing drunk Poms and blow up dollies, 2 Kiwis, a couple of Aussies and a few really fat South Africans. Most of the Poms were only going to the Eiffel Tower to watch the rugby on the big screen, considering it is only midday and the game starts at 9.00pm they are probably not likely to be conscious at kick-off time.

When we found the Montmartre metro station jammed full of singing Poms we went off to another station. It was also full so we persevered and waited patiently in the queue. The train arrived, we got on, actually we were pushed and squashed on and soon became separated. I saw Roger being squashed against the back of the seats and then minutes later the squeezing process pushed him half way down the cabin. An Asian mum holding a baby, dad holding pushchair and Grandma, tried to board, half got on and then a kind South African saw half the family didn’t so they hauled the rest of the family in. However the baby didn’t protest as much as the local with the basket of wild mushrooms, strangest thing to see on an inner city train.

Every time the train stopped which was about 8 times, at least 2 poor locals were oozed out and another 6 Poms and fat South Africans squeezed in. The brainless rugby supporters couldn’t work out why the train wouldn’t leave the station. It didn’t occur to them that because they were standing in the doorway, the door wouldn’t shut and therefore the train wouldn’t go. Their solution was to haul their mates in rather than push them back out on to the platform. The rest of us got taller and skinner every stop. The tighter it got the harder it was to breathe and there was no air movement.

The big South Africans started to sweat and it got even hotter, which wasn’t doing much for my claustrophobia, neither was the fact I was dressed for a winter’s game of rugby. The weight and height benefits of being in a sauna and vertical stretching rack wasn’t working for me mentally either. The only time I smiled was when the train stopped and a lady who had being pressed up face to face with a French looking guy got off and he didn’t follow. I asked him if he needed more room to follow his wife and he said “not wife, not know her, but we share intimate moment though”. I am not sure how intimate because according to one guy down by Roger all this body rubbing was causing him to get a bit excited. His big sweaty friend down my end with a big sweaty imagination reckoned his excitement was being suppressed by the proximity of the people and he needed at least a metre clearance.

RWC 2007 finalAfter more life threatening moments all to the tune of “swing low sweet chariot” we literally popped out of the train saturated in sweat, ours and the gross South Africans. We came out of the train at the right place for our seats but walked all the way around to the other metro line to buy our tickets home on the more civilised train. In England after the Twickenham game the Poms graciously queued for the train, nobody pushed or shoved and there was breathing space in the queues. We boarded the train in an orderly fashion and when the train attendant decided there were enough aboard nobody protested. But then again trains came by regularly. It will be interesting to see how NZ is going to get everybody to and from the world cup rugby final in 2011 with one train line and one small train. [Update Sept 2011 - Yep, it certainly was interesting!]

We bought disgusting over-priced hot chip baguette butties from a lady who coughed on them. Anyone knows most terrorists carry teddies in their pockets, but this time I out smarted security. On searching Roger’s bag they found one broken baguette, two teddies and a loser All Black hat. I bet after the match they compared notes on what people tried to smuggle in to the game and had a good laugh.

Anthems, RWC 2007 finalWe found our seats and as suspected most of our fellow countrymen had either sold out or switched allegiance. We were no better, I wore pink and Roger grey. I sat next to my new found friend from Taranaki; whoops, she doesn’t want anybody to know that. She prefers to be known as an Aucklander (sad girl) and has been following the rugby since the round robin games with her Scottish born husband, who spent all night swearing at the referee. If you watched the game from the start and saw the crowd blank out to a blue, green and white scene with Paris 2007 written across it, we were the blue bit. A certain person next to me who was despondent that his adopted team was losing made a Concorde dart out of his and sent it flying. Just like the Concorde it plummeted, crashed and will never fly again.

RWC 2007 finalThe Poms carried on singing until they realised that there was no hope and then all of a sudden it went quiet. As you probably know Golden Boot Johnnie didn’t fire probably because his blow up girlfriend “dolly” went to the Eiffel Tower on the camping bus. So chalk that up as a win for Southern Hemisphere rugby or South Africa or note that in your diaries as another loss for Roger, gosh 4 in a row Roger. We escaped the rugby to the civilised station. There were hardly any Poms on the train and those that were on it were depressed and quiet. One sad toff in his accountants clothes told his mate on the phone that England was right in the game but the referee was against them. Déjà vu, sounds like 4 million Kiwis two weeks ago. He was going to meet the chaps in town for a post match synopsis. I hoped they weren’t his mates on the camping bus, the cerebral and verbal exchange might be limited.

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