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One very striking theme that runs throughout Paris is the lion motif. If I recall correctly, the lion is the national symbol (and was once the royal symbol), although a quick Google search has turned up nothing to validate this claim. I have a certain personal lion symbolism, so I found this of great interest. Here's some pictures of the theme showing up:

A lion statue

The same statue from a different angle

Another statue

My favorite -- the Lion candy bar!

* * *

After three days of hotfooting around Paris, I was exhausted. The Louvre is big, and my feet were very sore. Happily, I had an excuse to sit on my butt for a while -- this was the afternoon that we took the train out to St. Malo for the conference.

We took the TGV most of the way from Paris to St. Malo. The TGV is the magnetic train that travels at 300 km/h (180 mph for all of us ugly Americans out there), and it's clearly the greatest thing since sliced bread. It's like taking a plane, but:

It's very fast and smooth and cool, and I'd highly dig it if we had them through the US. You can get all through Europe (on the cheap) via the high speed rail system -- Jason used it to nip up to Amsterdam and back while the rest of us traipsed about Paris.

There's now a high speed line (Acela) between Washington, D.C. and New York. It's supposed to make the trip in 148 minutes, and MapQuest tells me that it's about 225 miles from DC to NY, so that must mean it goes at 91 mph, a measly 50% of the speed of the TGV. So that's pretty unimpressive.

We took the TGV to Renne, at which point we changed to a slower, more conventional train which we took to St. Malo. It took about two hours on the TGV, and one hour for the final hop. However, we probably did about 90% of our traveling in the first hop.

Geek chic reigned supreme on the train from Renne to St. Malo. With a more distilled SOSP contingent, the Thinkpads were out in force.

Once we got checked in to our quaint seaside village hotel, the only thing remaining to do was to schmooze at the final party. I hate schmoozing; I'm terrible at it. But I'm slowly overcoming my terror. And the wine was excellent, a fact which happily remained true through the entire conference.

Next: the SOSP conference itself

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