Sunday, October 20, 2013

DATELINE: Paris (14)

Les rhumes.

Yes, we both seem to be flirting with colds.  We've been traveling for almost 6 weeks and it's actually a miracle we haven't gotten sick before now.  The sneezing started yesterday, the runny noses started in the night, and today, although no coughing or sore throats, we both feel colds coming on.  Consequently, not much action here in the Paris 5eme.  I went out to do the marketing this morning.  Up to the rue Monge market for more of those divine olives.  Then to the bakery for a demi-baguette, 2 croissants et une tranche de tarte des poires for tonight's dessert.  To the indoor market for more wonderful Knorr's dry soup ~ they make the best dry soup around and in many flavors ~ and a package of six little  Kleenexes (mouchoirs )to treat what ails us.  We are hoping nothing gets any worse.

Tomorrow morning we catch the train AT 10:15 from Gare du Nord for Brussels and then on to Bruges.  Next post from there.

It has been a wonderful two weeks in Paris.  The weather has, for the most part, been fair-ish but cold-ish.  Food has been wonderful; sites ditto.  I've thought about a lot of things in my daily ramblings:  how quickly my ear got tuned up to this lovely, push-it-out-through-pursed-lips language; whether or not I could really live here for any length of time; what a really bourgeois city it is with its myriad daily newspapers, thousands of restaurants and museums; how, despite its best efforts with street sluicing and sweeping every morning the city is still dirty because if pooping dogs and outside-only smoking laws that make every street into a giant ashtray plus the habit of the French to eschew street trash bins for the sidewalk.   Ugliness is shoved up into the northeast of the city and the banlieus where we (tourists) don't go and therefore don't see.

But what works in this city are :

The Metro, probably the best public transportation system in the world (and more about my take on public transportation later).  This metro could never be built now; there isn't enough money in the world to pay for it.  The first line opened in 1900 and it now has 303 stations, mostly underground.  It's not unusual to get off one line, walk up three flights of stairs, down two or three long corridors, then down two flights to a new platform so you can continue your trip.  Now you know why I'm ready for the beach stairs.   You can get almost anywhere you want to go in about 25 minutes or less.

The postal system which delivers mail two or three times a day.

The parking system with close monitoring for everything that's a vehicle ~ car, bike, scooter.  There are armies of parking enforcement "officers" out early and late, writing tickets for those who have overstayed their parking permit's allotted time.  No matter where you part you have to buy a ticket at a central box, stick it on your windshield, and hope that your business is completed before the ticket expires.  Every morning, on our street, the parking army is out citing those who have overstayed their allowable time.

The rain has finally come.  A little thunder, some very dark skies, a little rain.  The forecast is not so great for Bruges either.  But there is much to see in that small, medieval town and we hope to see at least some of it.  We have an apartment so at least you know we'll go to a market!  Until tomorrow, bon nuit et à bientôt.

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