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400 Day LETS Odyssey
Copyright � James Taris

JAMES TARIS around the World- (2003-4)

London and Paris in Canada.

CANADA - Kitchener (Wk.16 of 16 weeks)
Week 49 of World Tour

1. London To Paris

It was Saturday, May 8, and the Hot-Air Balloon flight we were expecting to go on had been cancelled due to bad weather. So Kit and I went to Slices for breakfast. Their All-day-breakfast-Special appealed to me … 2 (poached) eggs, home-fried fries, fresh tomato slices, polish sausage, 2 (wholemeal) toast and marmelade. All for only $3.29 + tax (15%) and much better value than a McDonalds Breakfast Meal at a higher price.

It had started raining, but I drove anyway.

Kit had a novel idea. “How long do you think it would take to drive from London to Paris?”

Well, I didn’t know, but I was about to find out. The rain kept belting down, and soon we were in London. No, not that London, the other London. The one in Ontario, Canada. We called in to the London Tourist and Information Centre to get brochures and a map of the area and find out what was worth seeing while we were there. But nothing appealed to us, except for the vault door. The vault was in the Medical Hall of Fame which shared the same room as the Information Center and the 12 inch (30 cm) thick vault door, which was wide open, caught our attention instantly. This 100 year old bank vault was still in use by the TD (Toronto Dominion) Bank up to 3 years ago. But once the bank closed down it just became a door to another display room. Talk about over-kill!

Gee that vault door was bloody heavy!

I needed to go to the toilet (the Canadians say, “needed to use the washroom”) so I ducked into the washroom next to the vault room. It was spotlessly clean with only cubicles inside. Those urinals are always so hard to keep clean! But the vending machines confused me. Why were they selling towels and tampons instead of condoms? Oops! I was in the ladies!

As I checked my watch and returned the trip meter back to 000000, I felt a little like a racing car driver. And I was about to drive to Paris. No, not that Paris, the other Paris. The one in Ontario, Canada. So at 11.45 am, I left London and casually drove along a wet and traffic-free road until I arrived in Paris, 90 minutes and 77 kms (54 miles) later.

Paris was a quaint little town. So much more interesting than the much larger city of London. Our first stop was for a coffee at Aroma’s Café On The Grand. The Grand River ran behind it, and even though it was cold and most of the tables and chairs out back were wet from the constant drizzle of rain, we braved those conditions until common sense convinced us to move back indoors to a warmer and dryer setting.

Enjoying the decor of Aroma’s Café On The Grand.

The café featured 2 wall clocks: time in Paris, Canada, and time in Paris, France. It was 1.40 pm in Canada, but the France clock showed 9.05 am, which couldn’t possibly be right. I expected an even number of hours difference so I pointed this out to the young girl behind the counter.

“France is, like, 6 hours ahead or behind”, she said, sharing her ignorance with us, “but the France clock broke and it’s been 9.05 for the past month.”

The day had been so cold and wet that everyone had been ordering soup, and now the kitchen had run out. Not only that, but they didn’t have any honey for our teas either. Apparently, the boss was away for the day, and we couldn’t even make enquiries regarding the restaurant’s décor, which was their best feature. Not such a classy café after all!

But the décor was very French. Brilliantly so! The walls and ceiling were a rich, rusty colour. Mock Eiffel Tower girders spanned from one wall to the other, with a painted image of the tower painted on the ceiling connecting both girders together. The ceiling fans spun slowly and the French paintings, which were all for sale, decorated the walls.

Impersonating Demosthenes from The Glory Of Athens.

On our way to the café, I had noticed a large Godfathers wall sign along the river. And now, as we were leaving the cafe, I decided to take advantage of that sign. So I shot into the Dollar Shop and bought a bag of marbles (for $1). Soon I was in front of that sign, turning myself into the Demosthenes character from my play, The Glory Of Athens, with my arms outstretched and my mouth full of marbles and saying, “Come here my son”.

2. Cosmic Bowling

On the way back to Kitchener from Paris, we rang Nancy, Trevor, Olga and Joel to meet us at the Brunswick Bowling Centre after 4pm.

We arrived in Kitchener 15 minutes earlier, so we took the time to post my excess luggage back to Australia. The 10.25 kg parcel cost $89, but this included $500 insurance, at $1.50/$100 cover. My last parcel had almost got lost, so I wanted to make sure I was adequately covered this time, so I would be well-compensated for any losses if they stuffed up again.

Nancy was already at The Brunswick Bowling Centre when we got there. Half of their lanes were booked for a children’s bowling tournament, and the other 16 lanes were being used for Cosmic Bowling. I’d never experienced this before, so I was glad to give it a go.

Another strike in the dark!

Cosmic Bowling is bowling in the dark! Well, not pitch black, but with black lights. You know, those lights which make your white clothes and teeth glow in the dark. Fortunately there was still one lane free, so we grabbed Lane 16, the very last lane in the row.

“Would you like the gutter guards up or down?” we were asked. “Leave them up,” we said. And so began a couple of hours of crazy in-the-dark bowling.

Trevor, Olga and Joel arrived a little later, but only Joel joined us for a couple more rounds. All-in-all we played 5 games in the spooky Cosmic Bowling atmosphere. As we bowled, video rock clips were played on a silver screen above the lanes, while smoke was released from the ceiling, catching the coloured lights from a single strobe globe spinning nearby.

My first round was my best. I bowled 155, getting 29 points off my 10th bowl, with 2 strikes and a 9. This was achieved even though I was deliberately striking the pins down by bouncing off the guard rails first. But when we finally took the guard rails down, my game got much worse! So maybe I was relying on those guard rails after all.

This article is taken from the ebook,
400-Day LETS Odyssey

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