I lost my hat.
The magic hat.
It's been in almost every picture I've taken of myself on this European trip, as well as in all my videos.
I loved that hat.
I'm thinking of writing a eulogy for it. I either left it or dropped it somewhere around the train station in Marseilles while looking for the bus depot to take me to Aix-en-Provence. I had it. Walked 3 blocks to find the bus and when I there, it was gone. Vanished. And I was too tired to walk back up the hill. I had gone too far and would've had too many places to look. I had to let it go.
That hat could take any ensemble I came up with and make it look good, no matter how silly or questionable my hygeine i was. It was perfect for bad hair days...or when I just didn't want to deal with it. And being that I'm currently on a 10 day trip with only a tiny backpack (didn't want to bring the orange dufflebeast), it was the last shred of vanity I was clinging to. All bets are off now. I'm in hotels, so my skin is clean, but that's about all I can vouch for at this point.
I had to make some tough choices packing this bag. The razor didn't make it. Too heavy. And after 6 threatening emails from Ryanair about the weight limit for my carry on, I wasn't going to risk it. Couldn't I have made a different sacrifice? Perhaps. But 2 pair of pants wasn't going to cut it, and I had to bring all my work stuff.
I'm in Aix-en-Provence right now. Not exactly the fashion capitol of the world, but definitely a shoppers' delight. Unfortunately the only hats I've seen so far would either require me to also purchase a skateboard to have it look right, or I'd have to change my name to Pierre. "The Magic Hat" I loved so much was from Old Navy. Four dollars on the clearance rack, so you never know. I might get lucky. I have a small head though and hats aren't easy for me to find.
It's so hot and dry here, that my dried straw afro hair is right out there for us all to enjoy now. Me and anyone who happens to walk by and look in my general direction.
So the pros and cons of this moment?
I'm hatless and have bozo the clown hair.
I'm exhausted from not being able to sleep last night. The brain couldn't unplug. I got up at 5:30 for the obligatory urination and never made it back to the promiseland.
It's beautiful here.
It was time for a new look for me anyway.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I'm on the train to Cagnes sur mer right now to visit the Renoir house and begin my impressionist tour of southern France. I spent last night in Marseilles. My friend called it the "San Pedro of France", which in a sense is true, accept for the castles, museums, incredible food, and fresh fish markets every morning.
The people in Marseilles are also the nicest people I've met in France so far. Even the night clerk at my hotel after telling me my room wasn't in fact mine....
"Room 30 sil vous plez"
"That's not your room"
"Huh? I was in there earlier. My bag is on the floor and my name is in your book."
They make you check your keys before leaving most hotels in Europe, just so us tourists don't get drunk and throw our keys in the harbor or get mugged. It's understandable. They don't use disposable key cards like so many places in the US. These places were built 300 years ago some of them, and they hand you these skeleton keys that look like they could open a dungeon gate in a Hobbit movie.
So the clerk looks on his list...
"That is your room."
He cracks this great smile and starts laughing. He wasn't even mean denying me my key. Just matter of fact. So I laugh with him. I'm starving, so I decide to ask my new friend whether or not he has any food in the kitchen of the hotel. The town shut down early and I couldn't find anything on the way back.
He says "pain?" (bread)
I'll take anything..."oui."
He goes into the kitchen and cuts me off half this fresh french roll and puts it in the toaster. When it's finished, he comes out with the 2 pieces cut open on a plate, butter and jam. Doesn't charge me anything. I go out on the patio over the water (I put a couple of pics of the view from earlier that day) and ate my bread.
Outside of "The Ant Farm", we'll call it, that I stayed on my 2nd trip to Barcelona, this is the LEAST expensive place I've stayed in Europe. Right on the water. Incredible. ("The Ant Farm" by the way literally was infested with ants. In the hotel's defense, the night guy did offer me a can of Raid when he saw the were sold out and couldn't switch my room. Unfortunately the hotel also had paper thin walls, drunk people throwing parties, and a highly active sexual clientele. I'll check the guide book more carefully next time.)
Let's just say I'm happy to be at this hotel in Marseilles tonight. And really grateful to my new friend at the desk for helping me out.
Posted by Rob Grad at 3:41 PM