Saturday, January 14, 2006

Friday, 12/30

  • breakfast: bread, cereal, orange juice
  • lunch: duck with basil, beef with peppers, fried dumplings, Singha beer
  • dinner: ham, gherkin sandwich on olive bread; mushroom pizzette (miniature pizza); challah-like bread; strawberry tarte

Breakfast was free hostel food.

Geneva has lots of Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese restaurant, and they didn't look bad. We needed a break from European food, we had it at a Thai/Chinese restaurant, and it was good. The restaurant had listed on a chalkboard where each kind of meat came from. We couldn't skip duck, then, once we noticed the country supplying it was none other than Hungary.

The best part of the meal was the slightly pickled vegetables that came with each dish, like a non-spicy version of kimchi. They were like Hungarian pickled vegetables, but tasted more like vegetables and less like pickles.

According to my journal (the hand-written one), we also had "things" at lunch, apparently after the beef with peppers but before the fried dumplings. I'm sure they were great.

In the afternoon we went to an exhibit of art inspired by Wagner's operas. It had some big-name paintings (a Monet, a Gauguin), but my favorite part was a screening of scenes from movies that had Wagner in the background. This included Birth of a Nation, which has the Ride of the Valkyries playing as the KKK, wearing ludicrous hats, heroically stops the marauding blacks.

Our Swiss francs, soon to be useless, were burning holes in our pockets. We had no choice buy to buy a lot of dinner (horrors!). My sandwich was amazing. You would think that ham, gherkins, and olives would combine to make a salty mess, but they really worked well together. The strawberries in the tarte were excellent; I was shocked that they could be that good in the middle of winter. The bread tasted like challah without sugar, which wasn't the best bread for eating plain, but would be a really useful thing for sandwiches--I never want to use challah for them, since it's always too sweet. Along with my dinner, I got a free beer for having to wait an hour for the TGV train to Paris, as it was apparently lost in the snow.

To express how interminable our trip was, I have to reproduce my journal exactly. Keep in mind that our train had already been delayed an hour.

Now, our train has come to a stop in the middle of France. There was an announcement, and in my best French I asked the cute and much-too-stylish girl across from us what happened. She is wearing square, black glasses with the thickest frames I've ever seen; a grey jacket like you'd see on hipster men; a jacket with a fur-lined hood; a silver watch, also square (to match the glasses?); and a bag that looks like leather trying to look like snakeskin, with a patch of fur thrown in. I like all of it, except for bag, which makes me wonder if there's a mythological reptilian ermine-cow that could explain it. She answers, and I catch the words "accident mechanique" and "temps indetermé." (I have probably written this improperly.)

I have chosen the wrong time to finish my book, Independent People by Halldór Laxness. It took me several months to read the first ten pages, but I liked the rest of it, even though it has no sympathetic characters and is incredibly depressing.

Eventually, Joel and I did talk to the girl across from us, he in French and I in Spanish. (Her native language is Portuguese.) As it happens, she's so fashionable because she works in the fashion industry. She was a model and now works at a magazine and a store importing Brazilian fashion. She commutes weekly between Paris and Geneva because nothing ever happens in Geneva. She pronounces Manhattan with no stress on the middle syllable, where all the stress belongs.

It's been more than an hour since the train broke down. After some announcements, our Brazilian friend explains that we're going to a station, and we can either switch to another train or stay on this one. She goes to another train. A bit later, so do we, ending up in her car again, where we continue our trilingual conversation.

At around 2 a.m., we get to Paris.


Seth said...

"Her native language is Brazilian"? That's a joke, right?

Toby said...

A mistake introduced when editing. To salvage my reputation of not being completely stupid, I'll add that Brazilian Portuguese has no second person conjugation for verbs. You can use tu with the third person verb endings there.