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Monday, November 13, 2006

the phantom of the metro is here

The Associated Press recently reported that historical and railway buffs can sign up for all-night tours of old Paris metro stations. An organization called ADEMAS facilitates the tours in its quest to preserve the history of the Metro. According to the article, the tours have at least a six month wait, but once inside, participants get to explore "phantom" metro stations that have been closed since World War II.

The mystery surrounding these tours has a certain underground, geeky appeal that I find irresistible. What types of people might I meet on a tour like this? Historians? Train junkies? Documentary filmmakers? Parisian Bloggers? Whoever they are, they are people who find value in observing fragments of the past, and this makes me want to observe them. How did they get there? And why? How long have they been waiting for the chance to see the phantom stations? Perhaps some Parisians go here in pursuit of an alternative to the crowded hustle and bustle of an afternoon at the Louvre.

Unfortunately, it will surely get to the point where Rick Steves covers ADEMAS in his next book, thus truly opening the floodgates of American tourism and wreaking havoc on the whole underground appeal. He means well, but those navy books are everywhere you look. After all, part of the beauty of travel is wandering the unknown.

The best part about the ADEMAS tours?? They serve croissants at the end!
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