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Chris Sayer’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 19 Sep 2007

Location: Paris, France

MapWednesday 19th
After arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport to drop off the hire car, after 19 days of faithful service, we caught the train into Paris city. An interesting sight greeted us on the train, where there were about a dozen people sitting for the journey. A small lady dressed in a head scarfe (presumably Muslim) stood in the middle of the carriage and started singing. We had no idea what she was singing, but that didn’t matter – the singing was perfect pitch, the voice was angelic, with amazing tonal qualitites. Sounded like she was praying. When she’d finished, she went through the carriage and showed her open purse to everyone. Most people (including us) dropped in a coin, she said “Merci” and moved into the next carriage. A form of begging I suppose, but it was a memorable welcome to this huge, multicultural city.
After checking into the hotel (which is in a great central location to the city), we deciphered the Paris metro train system and joined 45, 474 other people at the Rugby World Cup game between Italy and Portugal, at Parc Des Princes, a huge stadium on the outskirts of the city. Not being accustomed to Rugby Union, we found the game somewhat baffling, but the atmosphere was electric. Italy were favourites, but Portugal certainly had a good half of the crowd with them. For the record, Italy won 31–5. We sat next to a rabid Portugal supporter - I'm sure we learned some new swear words in Portuguese. Poms on the other side of us. And we sat with an Irishman on the train after the match who gave us some tips for Dublin next week. This really is a multicultural experience.