Paris- Part 1

Paris Travel Blog

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Greetings, Bonjour, Buon giorno family and friends:

I am finally able to write you all and send you my pictures. I have received many requests, and while I drank a lot of bad tea trying to secure wireless that actually worked in Paris, yet I was unable to get any sort of connection and I have not even seen an advertisement in Italy.

Now, I am in Cesena (Chesena) Italy with Cecilia, Ceci (Chechi) for short, a friend I made in Madison over the spring and summer dancing salsa. I arrived in Milan on 12th and rode the train from Milano Centrale to Cesena, which took about 3 hours.

But first…I arrived in Paris on September 4th ready to see the City. I evaded jet lag by leaving the States in the late evening and sleeping nearly the entire way.
half of the studio
This worked perfectly because the plane landed in Paris, Charles de Gaulle airport, at 10:30 the next morning. My friends and hosts Sonja (Sonia) and Adam met me at the airport and we rode the RER train into the City proper exiting at La Chapelle, which is also know as La Chepiss and Piss Chapelle because of the small homeless population that uses the station as a home and bathroom. I stayed in a predominately Moroccan and Hindi neighborhood in the 18th district at 14 La Chapelle, apt. 89, on the floor numbered 3, which is actually the fourth floor, this is how it works in Europe.

A large green door leading into two courtyards guarded the complex. The outside and common areas of the building were slightly run down and visitors from the more central parts of the City were often spectacle of the place.
looking into theback courtyard
Inside the studio though was lovely and roomy compared to Parisian standards. The homes I visited generally had large rooms except for the kitchen, the bathing room and the toilet room. The great French windows overlooked the train lines entering and leaving Gare de Nord, one of the main rail stations in the City. Sonja and I would consult the bridge over the tracks everyday to see what the pedestrians were wearing to judge the weather, which was usually chilly.

Adam primarily worked, so Sonja I went all over the City seeing new things and trying to find her a job.

After settling into the stufio, Sonja and I went to the store and sat on the cement banks of Canal Saint Martin close to the studio, until Adam got off work. Then we ate bread with olive oil, salt, and pepper, potatoes, and zucchini with mushrooms (they also had steak), watched Marie Antoinette, starring Kirsten Dunst and called it a night.

The next day I met Sonja downtown near Fat Tire Bicycle Tours, where Adam works with a bunch of Texans, who did not appear to care much about learning anything Parisian. I took a fat tire bike from the shop and us girls took off toward the Eiffel Tower and rode along the Seine River that divides the City. This was the first time that I would see some of Paris’ most famous treasures, including numerous bridges, the Eiffel Tower, Champs de Mars, the Military School marked with bullet holes from WWII, the Louve, Toulerries garden, Plaz de Concord, Champs Elysee, the Petite and Grand Palais, and the Arch de Triumph. We got the foolish idea to ride up Champs Elysee, the main boulevard axis, to the Arch de Triumph, which is circled by 5 lanes of traffic. Interestingly, any car that drives in the circle automatically loses insurance coverage until they leave the circle, as there are constant accidents.

This route turned out to be a terrible idea because the street does not really accommodate bicycles, there are a lot of lights that all kept turning red, and it was now rush hour. We turned off the main drag so that we could ride Blvd. Haussman (named after the Barron Haussman who was the planner/designer of the City’s layout and buildings, and is responsible for the broad treed line boulevards, scenic vista points and the even, regular facades that characterize the City’s appearance).

We also had two other visitors arrive this day, Roberta from Alberta, and Peter, a co-worker of theirs from Madison. Roberta stayed for about four days, while Peter and I both stayed until the 12th. That night they consumed about six bottles of French wine, each less than 3 euros and the sips I had were quite tasty. Champagne was also inexpensive, some bottles as little as 95 cents, and Sonja never purchased a bottle for more than 2 euros.

Around 1:30 am we decided to go out to a bar near the apartment only to find a crowd of people standing outside, a women lying on the ground in some sort of pain and distress, the paramedics, and a closed bar. We continued south along the canal to find every bar suggested to us closed, eventually we gave up and went home. Roberta and I shared the pull out twin sofa bed and Peter took the floor.
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half of the studio
half of the studio
looking into theback courtyard
looking into theback courtyard
photo by: Sweetski