The end of Paris... but the beginning of everything else

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January 13th 2012
Published: January 13th 2012
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Je t'aime Paris mais je suis vraiment contente de le quitter! (I think that's right. Grammar police anyone?)

What happened on the last day in Paris? What could possibly be the epitome of my time there, the golden nugget, the perfect moment of it all? ... I stepped in dog shit. Sorry, sometimes that word is just necessary. Yes, yes, that warm, squishy (some might say moist) sensation on the bottom of your shoe and you're afraid to look down because you just know what you'll find. I feel like I'd become part of the city for real.

Luckily I can't regale (or maybe a better word would be bore) you lovely people with stories of touristy visits, museum experiences, and the panoramic views of the beautiful Parisian cityscape. Because I didn't do any of that! Ok, I did fold and go to the Louvre once, but that was to be expected.

What did I do, you might ask? Well, truly and honestly, I just got lost. I picked a direction and walked, wandering through as many neighborhoods as there are now blisters on my feet. Yes, I'm all about the lovely mental pictures. I found the China town of Paris, a small corner of the Middle East, a touch of Ireland, even a little taste of home in the bright, shiny new Starbucks, and it was all submerged in a sea of lovely Parisian air.

The favorites: Night tour of Paris. My new friend Nabil was kind enough to give me a tour of the city of lights in his friend's very nice, very chique black Mercedes Benz. And can I just say YIKES!!! Being a passenger in Paris nearly made me pee my pants! People honk, swerve, and stop whenever and whereever they feel like it. Lanes don't exist, and pedestrians are target practice. (If any of you make a joke here, just imagine my glare in your direction). But in Nabil's defence, crazy driving is safe driving. If he had been cautious, we would be dead. So, merci mon ami! I got to see Notre Dame, the Pantheon, Champs Elysee, the Eiffel Tour, and several government buildings lit up like it was still Christmas. Really, really amazing. Notre Dame, though I'm sad to say it has lost some of it's mystery. I don't know if it was the dreary weather or the gaggle of Spanish tourists, but I felt neither inspired nor felt insignificant beneath its lofty ceiling and stained glass windows. Sacre Coeur was even less magnificent, though seeing it lit up at night gave me a little hope that somewhere the mystery still exists. The choir music also helped. The Montmartre Cemetery, with its large, ancient tombstones situated directly beneath a sky blue metal traffic bridge. The European economy of space can be astounding sometimes. And finally I'd have to say the Louvre. Not normally a huge museum fan, I enjoyed getting lost in the exhibitions, discovering treasures from artists that I had forgotten I loved. Unfortunately, several Da Vinci and Vermeer pieces had taken a short trip to London so I didn't get to see some of my would-be-lover's favorite works, but I was satisfied with the ones I did see.

I've met a lot of people and I feel they have patiently and graciously adopted me as a temporary, if awkward Parisian. We talk in French and English so that we all get a chance at a little practice, and words cannot express my gratitude towards them for their patience. I've already improved in the few days that I've
Me, above Nice Me, above Nice Me, above Nice

beaucoup stairs
been here. I'm really excited to see what a couple more months will turn out.

At the moment I'm in Nice, after a rather long quiet six hour train ride. And for any travelers, when they say reserve your train seat in advance, they mean it! I had to pay the full price for my ticket (roughly $180) because they're weren't any pass-holder seats left. C'est la vie, but next time I am planning ahead, which is one thing I'm not great at! Creepers of the day consisted of a Russian gentleman who came to sit diagnally from me near the end of the trip and persisted to stare intently in my direction. And yes, it was at me, I checked. I very cooly got up to get off at the next stop then casually changed seats to sit near an elderly, elagant Parisian woman who smiled affectionately and acted as a buffer between me and Mr. Creeper for the rest of our ride. Got to love the "find an adult" standby!

The hostel is good, though none of the staff is French. Several don't even speak the dang language!! You'd think I'd be happy about that, but for some reason I don't want to dive back into old habits where I rely on English to get by. But on the other hand, I tried to have my first French phone conversation with the receptionist and it turned out a huge catastrophe and her knowing English saved my skin. So apparently I'm just never satisfied with my lot.

Ok, I think that's good for now. Sorry, rather a long post, but it's been a couple of days. Still trying to figure out how to get my pictures uploaded. I appreciate your patience with my technological incompetence!



Additional photos below
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Italian influence, with the terra cotta roofs

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