2009-09-23 48 2
In a suburb to the north of Paris
I left the apartment my group was staying at and promptly got lost looking for the Metro. I circled around the neighborhood a few times before finally spotting it, sadly. After some confusion with the ticket vendor (shades of Barcelona) I paid 1.60euro and got on the metro. A common theme (so far) in european metros is an eta of the next train (or two), which is a pleasant change from Vancouver, when you never know when the next train is coming. I transferred @ Duroc station and caught the next train north. An old man with gout foot sat across from me with his bare foot up on the seat next to me. woo. I got off at Saint-Denis/Porte de Paris, which seems to be a stop for a large Stadium complex on the north end of town. Time was roughly 22:10
Unbeknownst to me, there were actually a couple stadiums in the area, and i circled north around the wrong one and went off on a tangent from the correct route. My GPS pointed solidly east and did not deviate it's pointer. It became rapidly apparent that it wasn't going to be much help telling me where to go, only how far I was from the point itself.
I ended up crossing through some very dodgy neighborhoods, very poor lighting and the same sorts of people you'd see in dodgy neighborhoods in Vancouver. A couple of streets I backed out of and decided that a different route would be much better for my health. After realizing I had overshot the hashpoint by over 500 metres, I backtracked using trial and error and found my way into an even sketchier looking residential zone.
There are neighborhoods you want to find yourself walking in alone late at night in Paris. This was not one of them.
A large residential block blotted out most of the sky, and the hashpoint seemed to be somewhere in front of it. A long string of lights had been systematically smashed, and groups of figures lounged about in the shadows beneath the trees that also obscured the area. I very carefully made my way across the front of the building, watching the GPS count down to 30m and then back up again. I circled around, attempting to make the number go down further, but nothing worked. As far as I could determine, I had reached the hashpoing with as much accuracy as the GPS would allow. The time was 23:00
I didn't want to attract too much attention from the locals by moving around erratically and taking pictures (the lights were probably smashed out for a /reason/). I decided to leave it at that and risked pulling out my camera and taking a snapshot of my GPS on my way out. Wump whimpered from inside my backpack and was too chicken to come out and take a peek.
Luckily I had set a waypoint on the metro station I had gotten off at, but despite my better judgement, I took a "shortcut" around the south side of what I thought was the stadium on my map, and ended up circling around a much larger stadium and found the metro again at 23:40. I missed my train by the standard 30 seconds. When the next train finally came, I hopped on, and made my way back to the apartment I was staying at, getting there around 00:30.
Pending (as with my Barcelona expedition, I might not be able to post them until i'm back in vancouver)
--Xore 13:00, 27 September 2009 (UTC)