Paris, Part 2: Trains, planes, and taxis

Time starts to lose all meaning when you fly overseas, because unless you’re going to the South Pole, the time zones blur and send you way forward in time (or backward, equally weird).

Compounding things: driving to the airport means two hours, plus three hours early for international flights, so tack on five hours to that twelve-hour flight. We took off in the afternoon, so by the time it was wheels down in Amsterdam to switch planes, it’d been 24 hours without sleep.

And in Amsterdam, the line for customs was INSANE. It stretched for kilometers, since miles don’t exist here, and got so long that the airport police freaked out. I kid you not. They all showed up, took a look at the line stretching to Denmark, and did some kind of Dutch magic on the bureaucracy to make the customs line absolutely fly. I still don’t know how they did it.

The Air France flight to Paris was not screwing around, with a male flight attendant happily arguing with passengers about proper masks. No cloth masks, only blue surgical ones, and they handed them out if you only had cloth.

I sat next to a television journalist from Paris on the flight, a man who’d covered wars in Africa and the Middle East, and it’s always wonderful to talk to somebody from the news world.

Trains are wonderful, except when they are not

The train from Charles de Gaulle to Paris started out fine. With every stop, more and more passengers got on until the thing was insanely crowded. All the travelers from the airport with giant suitcases started getting stink eye from commuters simply trying to get to work.

We formed rival gangs, and since The Jets felt natural for the airport people, locals went with The Sharks, and we had a dance-off with switchblades, except nobody got cut because they were too busy singing.

Once in Paris proper, it took another train to get close to our hotel, up by Mount Marche, then a hike because we were too groggy and sleep-deprived to figure out which third train to take for the station right next to our hotel.

It does not take long, when dragging your luggage after 36 hours or whatever of travel, to learn you don’t want to haul that luggage another mile or two. We grabbed a taxi. Best decision ever.

TL;DR – When you arrive with the luggage, get a damned taxi, even though trains are great. Kthxbai.

Nothing is better than dinner outside on a busy Paris street

There’s something magical and unique about eating at an outside table and watching street life in Paris.

It never gets old, no matter how many times I’ve done it.

We were absolutely sleep-deprived, and common sense said to unpack and sleep. Nope. Having a good meal, outside, put a capstone on the Getting to Paris part of the trip.

I believe this should be the law. You can’t crash at the hotel right off. Getting a good dinner, or even a snack, along with a drink–that is required.

Next post: I hear there’s some art in this town

Paris, Part 1: Let’s fix the annoyances of air travel and make it joyous again

Day 1 of any trip overseas involves waiting in lines, taking your shoes off, and strapping yourself inside a metal tube full of explosive liquids.

Note: yes, you could technically go all Young Bruce Wayne and trade coats with a homeless person before sneaking aboard a cargo ship, and yes, there are people who’ve rowed across the Atlantic, but we are talking about getting to Paris before 2028.

So how can we fix airports and flying?

Here are a few ideas.

Idea # 1: Trains, trains, trains

Nobody likes driving to the airport at oh-dark-thirty, paying for parking, and taking a shuttle to the actual airport. How could we make this suck slightly less?


Take your luggage and hop on a train that takes you directly to the airport.

Boom, no driving, no parking, no hassle.

SeaTac does have a train to the airport now. Though I live in a one stoplight logging town far away, it would be seven separate flavors of awesomesauce to catch a ride to Olympia, hop on that train, and hit the airport.

Sorry, parking lot barons. You provide a useful service, but trains would eliminate a major annoyance.

Idea # 2: Make boarding less silly

Right now, how do you get on the plane? IT IS THE CHAOS.

Let’s make this infinitely smoother by boarding window seats first, back to front. You go, Window Warriors.

Next up, middle seats.

Last to board should be aisle seats and first class / VIP people. Having them get on first slows things down. What’s the great thing about getting on first and waiting longer for takeoff? Feed the people holding special expensive tickets some special and expensive champagne while they wait and get them on last.

Idea # 3: Seats that fit

We have the numbers: average number of people who are tall, short, whatever.

Make seats on planes reflect real people instead of a mythical average, so anybody over six foot doesn’t have their knees shoved into the seat in front of them and average to shorter people get a break on price for taking up less space. But if we’re making prices reflect reality, average it all out to cost the same as now instead of overcharging tall folks.

Idea # 4: The adorable screaming bebes

Hey, I’m a father, and I get it. You want your pookie to see the world, or visit grandma.

HOWEVER: Itty bitty babies and toddlers don’t do well on long international flights, and by don’t mean well I actually mean a 10-hour flight often includes a free 10-hour chorus of screaming and inconsolable babies.

Babies and toddlers won’t remember a trip to Paris or Tokyo.

Multiply the age of the pookie by TWO and that’s how many hours the kid should fly. A baby can do two hours, a two-year-old can handle four, and so on.

Idea # 5: The Kiosk of Dumb Questions

At the Brussels train station, helpful staff stood at a kiosk to guide confused travelers to their train.

Airports around the world should do this. Otherwise, sleepy passengers wander the airport, staring at screens and asking random people questions in languages they don’t speak.


Traveling by plane is more annoying than it should be, but we can dream. What would you do, if you could wave a magic wand and fix it?

WE ARE BROTHERS by Baddy Paris and Rufus Starlight is pure brilliance

music video meme sound of music

As a child of the ’80s, I grew up watching music videos. You know back when MTV played them instead of reality shows involving people who get drunk a lot and are really into self-tanning.

This music video isn’t a pure parody. Because it’s brilliant. It stands by itself and could’ve been an actual hit from 1985.

Baddy Paris and Rufus Starlight, I salute you. Well done.


He is your brother.
And just because he’s older,
He will always try to boss you.
No matter what you do,
You must obey him!

He is your brother.
And just because he’s younger,
You will learn to tell your fists no,
When he beats you on Nintendo.
Do not hit him!

Don’t leave us,
You are our jesus.
But you look like mother.
Don’t want to lose you,
To another.

Don’t leave us,
You are our jesus.
She maybe your lover,
But do not forget,
You are our brother!

You were a loser,
Your haircut was a mullet.
You could not play the bassoon,
You had a dark blue bedroom,
What were you thinking?!

You also had a mullet!
I was always the cool one.
I was the budding rock star,
I’m awesome at the guitar….
…But you work for me now!

Don’t leave us,
You are our jesus.
But you look like mother.
Don’t want to lose you,
To another.

Don’t leave us,
You are our jesus.
She maybe your lover,
But do not forget,
You are our brother!

You were working as a salesman,
In a homeware & design store.
You only ever wore black,
Your life was made of Habitat.
You were lonely.

That was when you met her,
Though you would never tell us.
But then we finally guessed it,
Out came your dirty secret –
You loved your boss!
You loved your boss!!!

You are my brother.
Just look how far you’ve come now.
I used to change your nappy,
Now you’re old & saggy,
Fat like Paddy.

You are my brother.
I always looked up to you.
But now to me it’s quite weird,
Cause you have hair & a beard,
Just like our Daddy.

Don’t leave us,
You are our jesus.
But you look like mother.
Don’t want to lose you,
To another.

Don’t leave us,
You are our jesus.
She maybe your lover,
But do not forget,
You are our brother!

JUAN OF THE DEAD, the epic Cuban zombie movie

Zombie movies are inherently good.

Movies with subtitles are typically depressing and bad, and only watchable when you’re in college and think that French existentialism is amazing, that you should wear a black beret and smoke Gallouise Blondes the rest of your life, which will be spent in a cafe in Paris, sipping coffee and eating pan au chocolat as you discuss politics and philosophy with other intellectuals, never mind the fact that YOU DON’T SPEAK FRENCH.

There are two exceptions to the Law of Subtitles.

The first is DEAD SNOW, a Norwegian movie that isn’t just about zombies (yes!) but Nazi zombies (double yes!).

The second exception is JUAN OF THE DEAD, a Cuban zombie movie that isn’t afraid to pile on the craziness.

My first photo show is on like Donkey Kong

india houseboat on the canals of kerala. photo by guy bergstrom

Some of you know that I own a Nikon of Infinite Beauty, and that I’ve lugged it places.

India and Dubai, France and Belgium, Alaska and Hawaii, Sweden and Iceland — that sort of thing.

I’m having having a travel photo show — Pieces of the World: Photos on Canvas — 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18 at my favorite restaurant, Savory Faire.

Bottom line: canvas rocks. If you shoot photos, don’t print them on glossy paper and show off your pile of 4x 6 snapshots that you keep in a shoebox. No. Print your favorites on canvas. DO IT NOW. Because you could get hit by a truck tomorrow.

Sidenote: Is the title of the show just pretentious enough without being obscure and stupid? Maaaybe. Could I have gone with a photo-geek route with F-Stops in Eight Places? Sure, if I was a photo geek, but I actually hate messing with f-stops and whatnot.

Other rejected titles:

Snapshots of Where I Ate Fish Curry and Fermented Shark
Hey, These are Actually In Focus, Mr. Fancy Camera Man
I Rode on 43 Different Stupid Airplanes to See This Stuff

Some of the photos:

Arc de Triumphe in Paris, France
Arc de Triumphe in Paris, France. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

Houseboat in Kerala, India
Houseboat in Kerala, India. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

Sunset in Stockholm, Sweden
Sunset in Stockholm, Sweden. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

Kerio volcanic crater, Iceland
Kerio volcanic crater, Iceland, where Bjork held a concert from a floating raft in the lake. The acoustics are glorious. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

Dune bashing in Dubai
Dune bashing in Dubai. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.