Couch Tomato

Exploring the world

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Hee..this is so interesting..behold the power of the dominatrix. To bad you didn;t have the stilettos to step on his foot or something...

Well...at least you must've had a scenic walk...But that dude made a huge mistake if he thought you were gullible...

so is he also in the list for re-education?

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waits for the applause to die down, si I can interject a comment

Oh boy, this story is tha-rilling. I can't wait until the next episode.

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I wake up early the next morning to take advantage of what I thought was an included continental breakfast (I have to admit, the website did not lie about the charm of the little breakfast nook - and the pastries, cheese and juices were superb). I head to the front desk and there is a new world-weary clerk, who spoke even less English. I (with much repetition) indicated I wished to use the "internet computer at my disposal". He looked at me blankly. I tapped his computer. The blank stare continued. I repeated, "Internet. Ici. Avec." which made sense to me. Finally, a ray of comprehension pierced the fog of his deliberate denseness, he said something like "Away took. Gone. Computer. Not here." I make a note to refurbish the Bastille for new guests, and take off down the street to find an Internet cafe. Which I did a couple of block down. And talk about being overpriced! And it had a keyboard with lots of extra keys! And it wasn't exactly QWETRY nor was it DWORVIK - it was just messed up enough for me to look illiterate in my posts. I pull out my Paris pass (again, this thing was a wonderful bargain - I will be getting it again) and use the little metro pass thing on the bus and find the Opera House FOR MYSELF - and it was only a few minutes down the street on the bus - and it was really hard to miss. HPIM0215.jpg

My directions said the place to take my tour bus was right next to the Opera House. After the third time circling it, I eventually started wandering down streets until I saw giant busses. I believe their "right next to" is essentially the same as Clay's "quite soon". I climb aboard, select a seat right in the front and began my tour. Honestly, Paris is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. Vain, pretentious, stuck-up and gorgeous. Elegantly laid out. Fantasic detail. People are average-looking though. It is not a friendly city, but I look forward to seeing it again. But were a number of spots of friendliness. I did lunch in a little local restaurant that was advertising a variety of crepes. And I got some pommes frites to go with it. And a nice white wine. When I went in, there was a black lady who assumed like everyone else in France that I actually spoke French. After listening to my painful rendition of "parlez vouz Anglais", she fetched who I assume was the owner, who spoke to me very slowly, but since it was still French, didn't help much. The owner then fetched her son (who was quite hot. Seriously. Quite. Hot.) who's English was at the level of my French but communication ensued.

The Louvre is indescribable. The size, the scope, the amount of STUFF! I had to quit after the first five hours (which only covered most of the second floor). I made sure to see the Mona Lisa (which really is incredible when compared to Leo's contemporaries) and the Winged Victory. I had coffee with a very nice Korean gentlemen while we waited for the night tour...which leads me to another rant: Those so-and-so charge you each and every time they fill up your coffee cup! And it costs more than freakin' Starbucks for regular ol' coffee Americaine! They're lucky I don't like coffee and wasn't paying for it or they would have gotten a piece of my mind! Paris at night is just another level of gorgeousness. The club scene in Paris is smoky and they speak nothing but French. Loudly. I went ahead and went to bed at around 2 in the morning.

My last day in Paris I wished to do two things - go to Versailles and take a cruise down the Seine. What can I say, the Sun King was my kind of guy! If a little ornamentation is good, a lot of ornamentation is BETTER!

I believe I've got all my pictures uploaded now.

The cruise was sweet because by this time my feet were cussing me out - they apparently picked up even more gutter French than I did! It again was just pretty. I even rode around on the Metro - it wasn't as clean as the Underground but it was much, much quicker.

I repacked everything in the pretty red suitcase, abandoned the ugly black one, battled with the latest front desk clerk over the continental breakfast (according to him it wasn't included - according to me it was and if it wasn't, it was overpriced - we split the difference). I leave at 5:30 am to catch the 6:22 train. I arrived at the train station at 5:40. I am the first in line. I watch as the Eurostar people drift in, laughing, kissing each other cheeks. It is now 6:00 am. There is a humongous line behind me. We will have to go through customs. The Eurostar people are still kissing each other. They finally open the gates at 6:12. We rush through and come to a complete halt as the x-ray machine is not working. At 6:37, a man comes by AND TURNS THE MACHINE ON. Happily, my flight from London is at noon. We finally depart from the train station at 6:53. Which puts us into London at 8:30. IN THE MIDDLE OF RUSH HOUR, WHICH I WAS TRYING TO AVOID BY CATCHING A FRICKIN' 6:22 train. Bastards. I am like a salmon that hatched six months late, I don't care which way I am headed, it's against a mass of humanity. However, by being short and belligerent and using my suitcase as a cattle prod, I journey from Waterloo Station to Victoria Station, catch the Gatwick Express, away from the crowds, head for the Continental terminal and run smack dab into a freakishly long line for customs. Oh yes, an Elite level is so in my future, if I've got to fly from Houston to Dallas every weekend for no reason whatsoever 20 times. I check my luggage, board the plane and fall asleep. When I wake up, we're in Houston. I exit the plane, meet my driver and go home - to the discovery that my cat Grey had decided since I had clearly abdicated, he was now the ruler of the house, and so bit my other cat Mini-me and would randomly attack my son because he (my son) refused to surrender his food to Grey. Grey is a pig. I forced him to abdicate upon my arrival.

FINIS

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Awwww It can;t be over yet?

Are you sure there was n;t more to be said about the Paris night scene?

That was totally entertaining...when are you travelling again? heh

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Hmmm, I see a couple of pictures of the Arc de Triumphe [sic, I'm sure, but I'm not up to googling it] in there. Will that be transported on the backs of incompetent and / or surly desk clerks and scanners from the center of Paris to its new home in Houston once the World Domination plan thingee kicks in?

Loved the whole saga by the way. Wanna hear about my exciting trip to the grocery store after work? HA!

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As soon as my darling minion playbiller finishes ghostwriting it for me! :D

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I am an avatar for all! Think of me as Vishnu.

OK, y'all have to add to this thread too - as fascinating as "KAndre's recount of her subjugation of the world" is, I need people to help distract my opponents.

But back to me.

Did I tell y'all about Chicago? I liked Chicago! 'Twas exceedingly neat!

But I'm thinking about the Dominican Republic. This was a sa-weet trip! Recalling the indignity of having to stand in line when returning to the States from London, I recalled crying out to the universe, using that skimpy blue blanket Continental gives you to stand in for green velvet curtains (because you gotta admit, Scarlett was all about getting what she deserved), I wanna cut line too! So temporarily shoving aside my frugal soul, I bought first class airline tickets to the D.R. (Considering they only cost $120 more than the cheapest coach, once I determined to suck up as much alcohol as I could to make up the difference, it was good).

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Oh I definitely encourage people to share their travel stories...will be visiting Montreal soon so maybe I can add something.

but surely we will get more details kandre?

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Cha, y'all are gonna get details out the kazoo...I'm just battling two pissed-off cats (who say 'feh' to my vacation, their schedules are NOT SUPPOSED TO CHANGE and staying with Debbie still counts as CHANGE even though Fata**, excuse me, Grey, loves her to death); my mother, aunts, sisters, various men I'm dating who now wants to tag along, and it seems every stranger who discovers I occasionally vacation ALONE wants to freakin' come along; and I'm referree'ing a pitched email battle between two of my sisters.

Where was I? Oh yeah, having spent beaucoup extra bucks on upgraded airline tix, I look at my outbound flight (Houston to Newark, overnighting in NY and then on to my final destination in Punta Cana, my inner skinflint escaped and I decided I could do 7 hours either in Newark Airport or wander aimlessly around Penn Station in New York as there is apparently a train that goes from the airport to Penn Station for a reasonable amount of moolah, and I wasn't gonna pay an extra $120 plus tax for 5 hours in a hotel room without a guarantee of a naked Denzel or live singing Clay. You know naked live singing Clay would be at least an extra $100. Seemed like an EXCELLENT plan to moi.

So I get to the airport an hour before my flight leaves (which is good except I planned on getting there an hour and a half before, but my boss pretends to be temporally challenged, the little booger), wearing my favorite travellin' outfit (bootleg long-sleeved Clay Aiken t-shirt and long black exercise pants - comfort is Job 1!) and sailed through the Elite line. Ooooh, that felt good! Especially the dirty looks I acquired from those in the freakin' million mile long line. I toddled away to my gate - not having to run (man, that felt good!) just in time to sit for about 15 minutes. I noticed what looked like the most fakely nonchalant oh-let-me-just-wander-over-here-aimlessly-closer-to-the-front line forming at the Elite Access gate and figured, forget nonchalant, I'm not even gonna PRETEND to let someone use up my overhead space reserved for my darling little red Italian cheapie wheeled suitcase right over my head. So I noncasually walk to the front and with one cocked eyebrow dare anyone to say anything. I swear, one guy actually did that looking up and whistling thing. So I stroll in first, and get ready to lightly toss my darling Italian suitcase up and realize the thing weight like 60 freakin' pounds and so let the charming whistling dude put it up there for me, sit in seat 1A with the extra leg room that I don't actually need since I have really short legs, and start ordering Cosmos. Which were tasty. And the shrimp jambalaya. Which were terrible. And the blueberry peach cheesecake. Which almost made up for the atrocity that was the shrimp jambalaya. Since Continental needed to earn that extra $120, I turned off my mp3 player and watched, in it's entirity, [WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! SPOILERS! FOR GOODNESS SAKE, AVOID THIS! Yeah, and let somebody try and sue me] one of the most unfortunate pieces of crap Hollywood has emitted in years, Failure to Launch. Man. When, as an apparently key subtext you have a ground squirrel assault Matthew McCoundghey (whatever the heck his name is) to show that since he's out of touch with his love life and therefore out of touch with nature and therefore nature is forced to bite him on the ass (or thumb as the case may be), your writer has some SERIOUS issues. And I mean of the variety that should get their own section in the psych books. And Terry Bradshaw made JohnD look like Sir Alec Guinness with the subtlety of what I think he thought was acting. But it killed a couple hours. I then made the mistake of going to sleep.

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My travel stories consist of things like the post-work jaunt I took today: UPS a package; fill up the car's gas tank before the prices jump again; get Chinese food for a family dinner; hit Target and get some Drano for a slow moving sink and check out the CD section just in case ATDW accidently gets shelved a month early; then home to do some laundry. No drinkin' or hawt nekkid singers or Oscar winning actors were involved at all.

:glare:

KAndre, as always, I await your next installment with baited breath....

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So I land in Newark at about 1 in the morning and think, man this place looks amazingly empty. I locate my departure gate, explore the conveniently located dining court, check a good spot for waiting/sleeping/chillin' convenient to the television monitors, select the book I will read when I wake up, set my mp3 player on my head so it can be turned on at a moment's notice, wave cheerfully at the cops walking by, and put my suitcase in the chair next to me so I can lean comfortable on it. This kills a grand total of five minutes. I only have 8 hours and 20 to go! I try to force myself to sleep. That took about 7 minutes. I watch CNN. In twenty minutes I realize they are showing the same freaking footage over and over and over again. I go look at the departure board. It still has the same flights listed. I ride the walkways along all three wings of the C concourse. I get back to my carefully selected seat. It is all of 1:52 am. I am already bored out of my skull. I break into my reading material (which means I'm gonna have to buy more books at the airport because I don't go anywhere without unread books and I HAD to save my three special ones to read on the beach because I SAVED them for that specific reason). And of course, I whip through Carpe Demon (Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom). Killed two hours. Slogged through Something Wicked. One hour and thirteen minutes. Oh look! A line is forming at the Dunkin' Donuts. Let me go join it! So I get in line. And ask for the #5 on the overhead board, the croissant with sausage, egg and cheese and a giant cup of coffee. Which the resentful teenager at the register clearly had never heard of. She turns around and stares at the board. Yells at another disgruntled teen who also comes out to look at the board. And proceeds to ask me if I want bacon. No, I don't want bacon because that would be #4. I want some sausage because it's 5 in the morning and I still have 4 hours to go and I want the preservative filled meat of my choice! A third disgruntled teen shows up and they debate my choice. And just to make it difficult on them, I declare I want a tiny cup of coffee instead of the giant one because frankly I hate coffee and I would be will to pay the full amount! I am such a bitch because that totally threw them off. After 10 minutes (which I think is equivalent to eternity in Fast Food Land), they hand me a semi-icy sausage croissant which I promptly hand back to them. They nuke it for another 15 seconds and hand it back and I can see in their heads composing their blog about how they were forced to serve the pickiest person in the entire frickin' world when I add to the opus one last time - how about my small cup of coffee? They of course then hand me the gallon sized cup. I hiss at them, they hiss back at me that's what comes with the meal [bitch], and I wander away. I eat half the sandwich and maybe four sip of the coffee because I wasn't really hungry JUST BORED OUT OF MY SKULL. But people are starting to show up at the airport, and I still have 3 hours and 45 minutes to go.

That was the longest, boringest 8 hours I have spent in years. But I saved 70 bucks.

Got on the flight to Punta Cana. Got in my comfy seat. Realized I was being stuck with another horrible movie (Take the Lead - go see Mad Hot Ballroom which was a billion times better) but excellent cranberry juice and vodkas. The weather was gorgeous all the way down. We land at the airport and the plane comes to a halt. I think we are just waiting to taxi to the gate when I notice that they are rolling stairs to the plane. And that the terminal looks like its maybe a quarter mile away. And I am think bad thoughts. Really, really bad thoughts because I didn't take the time to charm the dude next to me to carry my frickin' suitcase down the frickin' stairs. And since Tropical Storm Charlie just passed, it is about 97 degrees and 140% humidity outside. So we trot out happy butts behind the airport person who leads us to the terminal - which turns out not to have any walls. And therefore no air conditioning. Which is not making me optimistic for my trip. They make me take a picture with some colorfully dressed young ladies, I go through Immigration where they demand 10 bucks American, I show them my passport and nobody takes the paperwork they made me fill out on the plane. I'm mildly annoyed at this point and head to all the car people, one of whom is supposed to be taking me to my resort, fighting off the porters along the way. Dudes, I have one red Italian wheeled suitcase. Where were you when I was going down those damn stair, huh? HUH? I get to the little booth labeled Dominicana Tours and identify myself. Of course the driver had run off somewhere. And I kept saying, "Es muy caliente. Y muy mojado" because I didn't know the word for humid and I think the guys seriously took it the wrong way. Seriously. But the driver popped up about 10 minutes later and off we went. And he was pretty. The driver, that is. Muy caliente, and they could take it anyway you like. So we talked for a bit until it was clear that my Spanish was even worse than his English, but he managed to communicate to me that he wanted to pick someone up. Since I was in air conditioning fo r the first time in what seemed to be hours, I agreed. We then proceeded to pick up who I assume was his girlfriend, who managed to make Halle Berry look like dogmeat. She and I could speak much better, and agreed that the driver was hot. He blushed.

We finally arrived at the resort and I'm not sure if it was because we were closer to the beach or what, but it was like the humidity dropped by half, it was nice and breezy in the open air reception area. Since it was only about 1:30, they said my room would be ready in about 45 minutes, strapped a wrist band on me and said explore. I went and sat my butt down because I was tired. Three guys proceeded to approach me separately, and in what I supposed was supposed to be a very subtle way, asked me where was my husband? No husband? How could your boyfriend leave you along like this? Boyfriend in Texas? Hi, how YOU doin'? It's like they had been assigned Chapters 1-3, "Picking Up Chicks for Dummies".

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Hee...only you can manage to make an 8 hour wait in the airport really enteraining.

oh lots of flirting going on...this will be verrrrrry interesting.

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HEE! Didn't those stoopid teenagers at the Dunkin Donuts know exactly who they were dealing with? Although, heck, they already work at a Dunkin Donuts. At an airport. In Newark. It would be hard to think up a punishment that would be much worse than that. :ph34r:

Hmmm, are we coming up on the "How Stella Got her Groove Back" part of the story? I hope you don't end up saddled with some slightly younger, intially hot guy who later makes a startling discovery about himself and than sues you for support. Not that I'm assuming you were grooveless or anything when you went to the DR. Anyway, groove on, Oh Fearless Leader!

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I get my key and head to my room (since I've been running around in the same clothes for like 24 hours straight). It is GORGEOUS. I turn the air conditioning off (if you've been in Houston in July, you know what a significant milestone that is), take a quick shower and go exploring.

By the way, British men on vacation are some serious fun. Really.

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