Environmental Backlash

by bicyclemark

Dear Paris:

Did you get the memo from the United Nations? – Global warming is a fact. A fact. Furthermore… a fact.

I mention this because it has come to my attention that you are turning on your environmentally conscious mayor. You dislike him because he’s making special bus and bike lanes and he’s closing some roads to traffic on weekends in favor of people walking, biking, and anything else. You hate him, and you’ll likely vote him out as soon as possible. He is a threat to you and the car that you love to drive everywhere.

But dear Parisien(ne), didn’t you read the report? Didn’t you hear the news? Did you notice the flowers blooming in February and the fact that you could have worn shorts today? This is no longer a test. This is not an optional thing. This is not about when it is conventient for YOU. This is happenning now, and it demands action.

Or maybe you’ll just drive in cricles. Till the river rises up and floods you out of house in home. Or extreme storms and mysterious tornadoes tear through your neighborhood. Maybe you drive around trying to outrun the record heat this summer. Ignore the arctic ice and Al Gore, drive that your new HumVee over to the overpriced café for a drink. Then drive around some more. Vote out that dam mayor and take a pic-axe to those bike lanes and buses. Pee on the metro and spit on the new tram line. After all.. you are a driver… it is your world.

Dear Parisien(ne)…. say it ain’t so?

your friend on two wheels,

Flickr photo, not mine.

Breakdown, Northern France

by bicyclemark

Well. I could make this stuff up… but the fact is.. this shit just happens.

As previously mentioned, I met up with the hitchhike ride from Amsterdam to PAris. Cool people, old ride. Like old classic Mercedes minibus ride. I noticed everytime she shifted gears I could see the pavement beneath us. That and I couldnt hear much besides the engine the whole ride.

About 5 hours had passed, and we were enjoying the scenery; their dislike for highways meant that we took as many country roads as possible. Which was slightly odd since the bus was would crawl up those hills of northern france, but no matter… more time to enjoy the scenery.

That is, until, KERPLUNK.

She starts looking over the engine, and I notice she knows that engine like the back of her hand. In a matter of seconds her hands are completely black from the oily engine grime. Her husband scours the two-lane country road.. retracing our very slow steps. EUREKA. ITs a waterpump, and its laying on the side of road. Apparently minus waterpump, engine overheats.

Enter local parts and wood salesman. He lives across the street. Comes out and examines the engine, carrying with him a jar of a zillion spare screws. I stand around useless, trying not to look useless.. thinking of how likely the chance is that we’re stuck. They seem to notice my thoughts and start asking the guy how they can get me to paris. A station.. a train.. one town over… you can make it before the engine overheats… only problem is.. lots of hills. We didnt even make it passed the first hill.

The Scenery

Suddenly she runs to the side of the road and sticks out her thumb. Im dumbfounded.. figure shes hoping to get advice or a mechanic. Instead, when someone finally stops.. she starts yelling for me to get my stuff cause Ive got a ride. Boom.. I thank them quickly and step into the warm car. Kid and wife in the back, nice guy driving Callypso music blasting… I was completely dazed. Just said many thank you’s and mentioned that I had no idea where I was. They were also confused — “Will your friends be ok, stranded back there?” I hope so, I said.. at least.. they have a whole living space in that bus and tons of food.

Another hour goes by and Im wondering where theyre leaving me. Wonder no more, Im dropped off at the beggining of whatever metro… a thousand thank you’s and a big smile… poof.. Im half asleep on the metro and eventually.. at ze local café with Max and Stacy.

So it goes sometimes.. if you’re me. You hitchhike via internet.. it breaks down.. you hitchhike the old way. So it goes.

Faire du Stop

by bicyclemark

On my way to Paris… yeehaw. Hitching a ride, in fact, through the magic of hitchhikers.org which is always a garunteed interesting time.

While in Paris I shall finally meet Chris from Americablog, who’s cats I already met during my last Paris visit. And naturally I’ll be seeing some of my wonderful Paris friends, including Max and Stacy of Karmabanque.

Which brings me to my recommendations for the day:

Max Keiser debating the world economy on France24 the other day. Great debate and I love how Max doesn’t sugar coat things as the other financial “experts” seem to be doing.

Somewhere in Brussels

Oh and DO watch this no comment video blog entry from the first of March. If you watch carefully, you’ll very quickly realize you’re watching the Brussels Fire Department fighting in the streets against the Police during what I can only assume was a labor protest. Amazing to see them watercannoning each other, and sad to see that they don’t realize they should be allies in that struggle.

Slovenia.. not Slovakia..

by bicyclemark

Greetings from Ljubjana.. presumably beautiful capital of Slovenia. I wouldnt know because I arrived at night and went directly to the neverending line of buses at the bus stop. But now it is morning.. and as soon as I check out of this rediculous half-assed hostel, I shall really have a look around and enjoy what it has to offer.

Verona.. another picture
(photo is a leftover from Verona)

Here’s text I wrote last night:

I could stay on this train forever. It is clean, it is quiet, it is amazingly comfortable, and we are travelling in a land I have never been to in my life.

I write this post from the international high speed train from Venice, Italy, destination Ljubjiana, Slovenia.

I love this train.

Funny thing, to get into Venice this afternoon with only enough time to walk out the door of the train station, snap some shots, buy a sandwich, and quickly get on this train out of town.

Some would say it was shame to miss out on the beauty of Venice. Tis true, it is beautiful. It is exactly as I remember it when I came to spend Carnivale here in the year 2000. Back then, it was my Polish-American friend Jacek and I, travelling for a week in Italy, taking a break from our studies in Aix-en-Provence, France.
But I’m much too excited to see Slovenia and get to know it a little bit.

I’ve been reading up on its amazing history. The story of it’s independence from Yugoslavia in the 90’s. The story of this part of the world in ancient times. It is nothing short of fascinating to see all the different cultures and groups that passed through here and settled, at one time or another.

Add one more to that list… 2006; Portuguese-American podjournalist speeds in on a Slovenian rail pendular train for his first ever visit.

A few nights ago, I was talking with a friend in Paris about life and how things haven’t been working out for me lately and all the uncertainties in my own life. She reminded me of the good life I have.. which, at the time, I argued was not all it is cracked up to be.

Adventures like this, small as they may be, i remember that she’s right.