A travel story part B – by Dickson Igwe (contributor)
There is an international quality to Paris. This is an appeal London is losing with Brexit and growing xenophobia.
In working class areas of London an anti migrant politics is appealing to residents. This is a sub culture that is unique to island peoples.
The consequence is that there has been a rash of verbal and physical, hate attacks, on foreigners, especially Eastern Europeans.
Since Brexit, certain parts of the Great City are becoming increasingly unfriendly, claustrophobic, and miserable.
Paris has issues with racism too. There is some segregation between the white Parisian and the black and Middle Eastern migrant.
However Paris is a city that beckons the traveler white and black. The culture of Paris attracts the foreigner. It makes the visitor want to learn the French language and the French way.
Paris has become a type of brand: it clearly possesses a unique leitmotif of taste, culture, and architecture, with a charming river called the Seine splitting the city in two.
Paris feels safe in spite of recent terror attacks that killed hundreds. . There is a belief that the absence of hand guns has shaped the culture.
France like London has zero tolerance for guns. There is no issue in Paris with handguns. This is unlike the USA where the police will face criminals with all type and sort of lethal weapon.
Consequently, a number of cities in the US are killing fields of young black men.
Barack Obama is loved in Paris. And so is Will Smith. There is genuine horror with a President Donald Trump.
OK. There are issues with immigrants from North Africa and the Levant.
The Middle Eastern Population in Paris is increasing, and it is very prominent on the streets. These migrants are assertive, aggressive, rude, and noisy.
However, it speaks greatly of the French that these people are tolerated. This clearly distinctive North African and Middle Eastern sub culture points to a reason why a tension with migrants is building in Europe.
It is critical these migrants are integrated into the mainstream.
Paris is best savored. The city is a fine wine. It is made up of smells, tastes, nuances, and subtleties. That is why one best ambles about, when in Paris.
In other words Paris is best walked. Paris is discovered. And Paris is magnificent. This is because the city was not destroyed in the Second World War.
It was spared by Adolf Hitler when he invaded France in 1940.
Paris has evolved from the earliest medieval time. Paris is living history. And Like London, Paris is a center of culture, history, and heritage.
Consequently, Paris is best discovered on foot. The city beckons the curious and inquisitive. It is filled with surprises with each street corner walked.
The twists and turns of the city reveal its character and panache.
Paris is grand and expansive. Paris is aspirational. The French Capital is blessed with a unique choreography that blends into every activity of the great city.
The one drawback is that there are no free public toilets. Be prepared to pay for nature’s most basic requirement.
The city has been designed around the pedestrian and cyclist. Car drivers are second class citizens.
Sidewalks dominate and the pavements are extremely wide. The pavements hold thousands and thousands of walkers, city dwellers, and tourists comprehensively and wholesomely.
Paris is the top tourism destination in Europe despite the recent terror attacks.
The city is littered with monuments, statues, massive historic buildings, and charming hotels and equally charming homes.
Most buildings are quaint, and built around French windows and French doors. French doors open out to tiny verandahs that look loftily upon spotlessly clean streets below.
Beware of pickpockets when you are in Paris. These guys are vermin. This Old Guy was walking towards The Trocadero from the Eiffel Tower, over a majestic bridge, across the River Seine.
He observed two guys of North African origin behind him giggling and attempting to unzip his back pack.
Yours truly swiveled around in an uncontrollable rage. The two pick pockets probably realized there was a simple choice.
Either this traveler or one of the other two goes over the side of the bridge, and into the freezing waters below. They thankfully backed off.
This traveler was eternally grateful. He swims reasonably well.
But he is unsure whether he would have made it in the freezing temperatures of the Seine.
His second experience was wonderful. It was one of those “happenstances’’ that take place when you least expect.
Paris is filled with buskers of every type. These are travelling street musicians in the tradition of the medieval troubadours.
This “Bohemian’’ sat in a metro car one early afternoon. A Frenchman in a beret entered with a type of musical drum set and CD system, with speakers.
The street performer began his rendition. It was a French piece of some type: a mixture of Street Europa and gipsy, harnessed by the various instruments supporting the drumming.
It was simply divine. It brought tears to this “easily emotional’’ big guy’s eyes.
Suffice to state, the guy got well rewarded by this grateful part of his metro audience.
Moulin Rouge is the greatest show in Paris. It is a must see despite the bare breasted female dancers.
It is rich, varied, and filled with acts and performances of every type: it is a circus of excellence.
Yes, you “got to do Paris’’ if you are a serious traveler. It will be well worth the effort.
Now, the preceding narrative is simply the impression of one traveler visiting two European cities for a very short stint: a leisurely jaunt. It is by no means a substantive appraisal of the countries visited.
That type of assessment can only be carried out by an army of experts, from philosophers and sociologists to statisticians and demographers.
However, there are some things this Old Boy took back home to paradise, from the UK and France.
The UK has great free national health services. It possesses an excellent transportation infrastructure. It remains a culture and history destination much as Paris.
However, once one leaves the shores of the UK for the warmer climes of the Caribbean, returning to visit the UK, leaves one with the distinct belief that England is becoming increasingly miserable, and inward looking.
Again that may be a result of the political climate created by Brexit. Britain is expected to leave Europe after a traumatic divorce.
The UK wants to open up to the rest of the world, especially the USA, Canada, Australia, The Commonwealth, and China.
Increasing xenophobia is not the way to go.
Paris appears to be a wonderful city. And this Traveler had a great experience there.
However he suspects that unless one ventures into the grubbier parts of Paris, where the migrant population resides, and the French countryside, and sees the darker sides of France, one cannot place Central Paris as the example for the rest of France.
He expected a “BVI Welcome Desk with immigration and customs services,” even a calypso band, after arriving late at Cyril E King Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas.
He also expected a shuttle bus to catch a 24/7 late night ferry to West End and Road Town.
Alas this critical requirement is still unavailable as of December 2016. Maybe he should tender for a great business opportunity.
So, he overnighted very expensively in St Thomas, before the last leg of his trip home by Ferry from Charlotte Amalie the following day.
Olga’s Fantasy was a pleasant surprise. This was a tiny, wonderful, and sleepy hotel, sitting on a spectacular beach just around the corner from the Ferry Dock.
He woke up to the sounds of gently lapping waves and warm sea breezes.
Returning to the Virgin Islands from his odyssey in freezing Europe was a reminder how blessed it is to live in Xanadu.
However, as this Writer stated in a previous story on safety in paradise, many who have this divine privilege are allowing a tiny minority of our badly behaved, but precious sons, to, well, ‘screw things up’.
And let us all understand, citizens and residents of paradise, what we have and enjoy, and to protect our tiny paradise, before it is too late.
Yes. Despite the thrills of a wonderful vacation experience, it was great leaving the cold misery of the UK and Europe, and to step into the comforting warmth, soothing sea breezes, and pristine geography of the Virgin Islands.
Yes, the discoveries, insights, and experiences of travel, greatly outweigh the expense.
What a great life is to be lived in paradise, but only if that is what one desires.
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