Friday, July 27, 2007

Paris

Dear Readers,

Our stay in Brussels was short – one day and two nights. We left yesterday morning on the train to Paris. I must say here that if we had such trains in the US, I for one, would ride them often. Fast, silent, comfortable are the way to describe them. We went from Brussels to the Gare du Nord in Paris in about one hour forty-five minutes. We traveled at speeds approaching 200 miles per hour, leaving the four wheeled vehicles along the road way in the dust. When we got close to Paris, the roads were grid-locked while we sped silently toward our destination. As Borat would say, “Very nice.”

From the train station, we descended to the underground, bought two ten-pass booklets, and began our subterranean journey under Paris to an address in the southwestern corner of the city where we were granted the use of a small flat for our stay here. It was odd moving that distance without ever seeing any of the city that we transversed. We were a tired group, having stayed up far too late the night before in spite of my best intentions.

So, perhaps it was our fatigue, or our state of constant travel over the past few days, but when we opened the door to the flat, we were a bit taken aback. I suppose that it was because we all had preconceived ideas of what this flat would be like that we were literally stopped in our tracks as we entered.

First, it is small – very small. It is comprised of four small rooms (not counting the bathroom and storage closet). And all of those rooms are completely filled with stuff. Apparently, this is a “working” flat kept by an artist who mainly lives elsewhere. Two of the rooms had “beds,” one was the “living room,” and the other the kitchen, where I now sit, wedged between the small stove and the sink.

The bathroom is so small, that the toilet has been turned sidewise and even then, the lid does not rise all the way so that if one sits down, one has to lean a bit forward being careful not to bang one’s head on the sink which is perilously near.

And in the keeping of a true artists garret, the focus has been on the work, not necessarily making it into the French version of Good Housekeeping. It has been some time since this place has seen a broom, and a mop – well, perhaps never.

But we rallied, deposited our bags and went back out to explore the neighborhood. We are surrounded by bistros, bars, and cafes. There is a butcher shop and a bakery, a tobacconist and an internet café, from which I hope to later post this entry. While there are a number of detectable WIFI networks in the neighborhood, they are all protected and not usable for me. Therefore, I have been unable to send or receive emails since leaving our host’s house in Brussels twenty-four hours ago.

After have a bit of VERY expensive food (half of it uneaten by my children because it had “stuff” on it) we went back underground, emerging like moles, blinking in the bright light along the Seine, and peering around for our goal of the Eiffel Tower. After a leisurely stroll along the river banks, we arrived under the massive landmark at which time K and J bought “stair” tickets and began their climb.

Hours later, after E and I had decided they had been kidnapped by gypsies (who were in force and working the tourist crowd), they reappeared having walked up to the second level (and down again), and achieving the pinnacle via the purchase of extra tickets to use the elevator for the final ascent and descent. Needless to say, they were tired and in need of ice-cream, which they amazingly found at a nearby vendor.

After a bit of group consultation, we decided to head for Montmartre and the church that crowns it, the Basilique du Sacre-Couer. Hopefully, we will have pictures of all of this up on our respective websites soon after I post this entry.

Today, we hope to visit the Louvre, Sainte-Chapelle, and the Notre-Dame cathedral. But the three teenagers have to wake up first. Who knows what we will actually accomplish.

More later.

2 Comments:

Blogger Sister Spikey Mace said...

So enjoying your travelogue, and glad you're having a good time.

8:12 PM, July 27, 2007  
Blogger lime said...

oh how exciting....i think the experiences would make the miniature and cruddy flat worth it...just so long as we aren't talking man eating fungus in the flat....the adventure continues! thanks for taking us along.

10:46 AM, July 28, 2007  

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