Prague Twin

Monday, September 04, 2006

Back from Paris

My wife and I had a very early flight out of Prague on Friday, so security was even faster than the last time. The girl who checked my passport (I say girl because she was barely 20 as far as I could tell) had a cup of coffee in front of her and forgot to give me my passport back. She realized her mistake quickly and we laughed a litlle. The security check was quick. The main difference I've noticed is that now I have to take off my belt. Other than that, there seems to be no difference in the security procedures since the recent panic.

We took the RER train from Charles De Gaulle Airport to the center of Paris: St. Michele-Notre Dame. We had the use of a friend's flat about 100 meters from Notre Dame. I have never stayed in the center of Paris and I have to say it is really nice not having to use the Metro. The metro is convienient, but hot and crowded. It costs about $1.80 for a one way trip. This is really cheap considering the prices of things in Paris. A small beer is about $5 and you don't really get breaks for ordering larger ones. I was paying over 10 times what I pay for a beer in Prague. Cocktails in the center of Paris are about $13 and they are small and watered down. It is best to drink wine or champagne.

Paris is pricey, but what you pay for is convinience and quality (except in the case of cocktails). Here is an example... We decided we wanted to drink champagne, so I left the flat and walked about 50 feet when I found a wine shop. A very friendly gentleman ran it and he had bottles of champagne chilling in an oversized refrigerated display case. They were presented better than any champagne I had ever seen: layed out as they were for my perusal. There are literally hundreds of restaurants, bars, cafes, and bakeries withing walking distance of the flat we stayed in. There are no shopping malls, but there are hundreds of small boutiques with shoes, clothes, and furniture so stylish it is almost intimidating. Every shop seems to have a distint style and a creative interior. There is always some clever design behind every display: something original.

My father met us there, and he told us about a tradition his high school had that I had a hard time even comprehending, much less believing. I was hoping someone might know something about this. Apparently, his school colors were green and white, and the team name was the "Hunters". Pretty straitforward so far, but this is where it gets wierd. Each senior class was required to have a special color for their graduating year, plus a mascot. A ficticious example would be the Red Bears of '57. It seems like an okay idea until you start running out of colors and mascots. I figure this was the reason for the downfall of this system. My father's graduating class, for example, was the Heliotrope D'Artagnans. Without clicking, does anyone know anything about either of these? I didn't. Now I know what they are, but I am still a little confused as to why they exist. If anyone can help me out on this, I would appreciate it.

Return Secutiry

On our return, security seemed a bit tighter. Mostly, it looked like the normal drones were being supervised and educated. They were pretty efficient. Then I witnessed the madness. After we were already in the secure area, they set up another security station for all of the flights to Great Brittian. There was a special zone with about 4 gates completely secure. No services (I'm not sure if they had restrooms, but definately no shops or food. All of the people going to Great Brittian had to go through an additional check where each carry on was searched completely. There was the hugest trash-bag ever to collect all of the water and other liquids that could present a threat. When a plane started to board, the people who had not yet cleared security on the flight got to go to the front of the line, so that the people that arrived the requested minimum two hours before their flight were spending about an hour or more in this additional line and I felt sorry for them.

On the bright side, this hysteria seems to be confined to the United States and Great Britian with the emphasis on the latter. My Father said security was no big deal in the States. Europe seems to be taking the signal to be more vigilant but not at the expense of efficiency. Well done France. Well done Czech Republic. Maybe the whole world hasn't gone mad after all.


  • I stayed with a rich girl on the Ile St Louis for two weeks in 1976. I still call that period heaven. Thanks for the memory jog and the report on security matters.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 5:41 AM  

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