Friday, May 10, 2019

We Went to Paris

It was a bit of a stretch, squeezing four more days into our already crowded Schengen stay. As we come and go we’ve been counting our days in and out, because we don’t want to overstay our time. Stories vary as to what happens if we do, but we’d rather not find out!

Now, how did we end up in Paris? It all started six months earlier, in November. We were in our “bird’s nest” apartment in Alicante, Spain, at the top of a 13-story building, when we stumbled on a Netflix video of Loreena Mckennitt playing at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. (It's available on YouTube here.) We checked, and found that Loreena McKennitt would be playing in Paris in April. So, we bought tickets not knowing where we would be by then.

The Arc de Triomphe also impressive from a side street

We continued with our travel plans, with all our ins and outs—Spain, Malta, Croatia, Spain (again!), Morocco… Then in April we flew in from Turkey and had four lovely days in Paris, staying at an Airbnb in a classic building in the 8th arrondissement,not far from the Arc de Triomphe. Here’s some things we did, in no particular order:

Met up with Bernard and Claude, two fellows we met three years ago in Montpellier. Claude has an apartment in Paris, where his aging father lives. It was fun to see them in the big city!
A lock on the Canal Saint Martin in Paris, and a boat in a lock (not the same lock,though; there's more than one!)

Strolled along the Canal St. Martin, near where we stayed for five weeks in 2015. Re-visited the former lock-keepers house that’s now a delightful café (where they serve fabulous hot chocolate—particularly good with a shot of espresso!)

The lock keeper's cottage along the Bassin de la Villette, part of the Canal Saint Martin

Inside the whimsical cafe, the former lock keeper's residence, each room has a different theme

Had a fine lunch in a classic Parisian café on the Left Bank, near the Boulevard Saint Germain.

The Arc de Triomphe seen as we were heading home one night
Strolled down the Champs Elysees (one of the most prestigious addresses in Paris) and were astonished at the broken windows and smashed storefronts, a result of on-going demonstrations by the Gilets jaunes, protesting French tax policies. Since last October every Saturday they have taken to the streets, with oftentimes violent results. (Here in Montpellier there are also cracked and boarded up windows from local Gilets jaunes protests.)

Smashed store fronts along the Champs Elysees in Paris

Visited with some Americans we’d met here at an event in 2015. They’ve been living in Paris for 25 years. Lots of interesting stories!
Ran into an impromptu auto show on the street in front of the impressive golden dome of Les Invalides. There were huge American cars, older European models, even a Maserati or two. What was interesting is that it all seemed ad hoc; there were no placards extolling the value of the vehicles; no fawning owners eager to tell all about their restoration experiences; no organization taking credit. Just a bunch of guys hanging around on a Sunday morning.

A Boss Mustang in the streets of Paris...

And then, of course, the concert. We really enjoyed it. We’ve been listening to McKennitt’s music for decades. Sitting in the theater as it slowly filled prior to the concert, though, I thought about how we came to be here. Six months earlier we had only a limited idea of where we would be or what we’d be doing. Our lives have been anything but consistent in the last year. But we had the confidence in our planning and travel abilities to know that we’d be able to handle whatever came up, and we’d be sitting in these seats on the appointed night. Yes, the music was great, but the real thrill came from the fact that we were there.

At the concert, Salle Pleyel in Paris

Obligatory photo of Gustave Eiffel's famous tower

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