Date: Sun, 21 Apr
1996 19:51:04 -0700
I had a couple of requirements to allow myself to make this trip. One was that my ticket to France would cost less than $500; another was that I was not going to do any obsessing about where I would go and what I would do. I would just do whatever I felt like doing on a given day. (I should say that even when I do plan obsessively, that *is* what I do--I do not stick slavishly to the plan. I also don't look at each and every artifact in a given museum, like most of my friends.) I discovered that the airline I picked was a good choice. Not only was the ticket cheap, but it was a French airline, so all the announcements were in French, sometimes followed by English. None of the steward(esse)s had strong English. This was good for me, though.
When I first got on the plane I was in shock and couldn't understand anything. By the time I got off the plane, my listening comprehension was nearly as good as it gets. It surprised me that the most difficult thing was rhythm. French and English rhythm is way different. I never really noticed this until this trip.
So there I was, on the plane. The movie started--Dangerous Minds w/ Michelle Pfeiffer. I fiddled with the channels till I found the movie--in French. Oh well, good practice. I listened to about an hour of it in French, and then my neighbor got up, and I had to let her out. When I sat back down, I had music on. I fiddled with the channels (which is hard to do, because they are way down on the seat arm), and all of a sudden, there was English! Duh! There were two channels for the movie!
So the movie finished, we were fed breakfast, and then we arrived in Paris. My bag was the 4th one out. I just walked through customs, and there was Luc! (He is a friend from grad school at Yale; we've known each other for 15 years or so.) I got all the required cheek kisses, then we looked for an ATM that had Cirrus or Plus. Nothing. We looked at 4 different ATMs, and eventually I decided to simply change some money. So I did that. Urk. Not many francs to the dollar.
We hopped on the metro and headed back to the Maison des etudiants canadiens. My room was a garret on the 4th floor--no windows, just a skylight. After dumping my stuff and taking a shower, I met Luc, and we headed to Luxembourg (the metro stop, by the garden) to get money and find food. I also made him stop in McDonald's for Brad. This is touristy enough an area that the third ATM we found was connected to Cirrus, and I got money.
Then we headed to a cafe. I sat in the cafe, looking at the French people on the street, looking at the wrought iron balconies and the French windows, thinking "Yesterday I was in Mountain View!!!!!!". You just get on a plane, et voila, there you are in a totally different place.
There are several architectural features of Paris that I particularly love. One is the old-fashioned doors w/ row upon row of wrought iron. Another is the doors. There are these tall wooden doors, of various colors and differences in design. But they are always perfectly proportioned. And you never know what mysteries lie inside! They often open into a courtyard, sometimes with a charming garden. These doors represent the key to everything that is exciting. We sat there till it was late enough to eat, and then headed to a cafe, where our waiter was the most Parisien allowed by law. I don't remember what I ate. Whatever it was, was good.