Paris le Samedi 6 0ctobre 2018.
Enfin! Nous voila a Paris!
This year, arriving in Paris from the US has a Rip Van Winkle feeling to it. First, there’s the fog and sleepiness of jet lag. It’s hard to “get the eyes opposite the holes,” as our group of friends used to say when I was a student here in the early 1960s. Attacks of somnolence come on all morning (early moring hours at home), even if we did get up at 8:30 Paris time and eat breakfast and go out for a walk. And spending the first day knocked out and sick from a gluten episode on the plane from an allegedly “gluten free” meal didn’t help! You’d think the dietitians at a major airline would know that barley contains just as much gluten as wheat!
Then there ‘s the question of what has changed here in a year. New styles – everyone is now wearing bright colored sneakers; new ways of getting around – the Velib’ bike rental stands are empty, perhaps because all the bikes are in use though we haven’t seen any. Instead, what we see in the streets are adult-sized bright green electric scooters that are GPS tracked, so it’s possible to just leave them on the sidewalk when one gets off without risk of losing them. And moving apartments from one little section of the Latin Quarter to another yields new views, further distance from former favorite stores and delightful new proximity to others. I received a fabulous surprise yesterday morning when I walked out our new front door and discovered myself directly across the street from a side entrance to one of the biggest and best health food stores in Paris – Bio-Coop — which formerly was a bit too far away to patronize then lug home bottles of this and that on foot. But now, to find a regular grocery store, we will need to take the bus to the corner store we patronized in the other neighborhood, which is still the grocery closest to us.
We are now much closer to a hub with 6 different bus lines, including the two that passed through our former neighborhood – making it easier to take buses to go directly just about everywhere. We are to meet a Unity Licensed teacher later this afternoon. She figured out a spot to meet that’s about halfway between us, and voila! – one of our now nearby buses goes directly there, halfway across Paris.
One of our errands our first day here was to go to the now nearby Metro station and purchase our monthly transport pass that allows us to take any kind of public transportation day or night as often as we want without further charge. It’s a real “Open Sesame” to fabulous mobility throughout the Parisian region – including the suburbs. Monet’s Gardens in Giverny? Yup, Free. The palace in Versailles? Also free. The new multi-cultural center on the northern edge of Paris? Free. Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, Tuileries Garden? All free. It’s a glorious freedom to be able to go everywhere whenever we want, starting with a bus that leaves from 200 feet from our door.
Over the years, we’ve shopped all over the Latin Quarter, so the stores right around the corner from our new place are delightfully familiar – old friends. I guess this is why, on this fifth annual trip here, it feels important to start building friendships and finding groups to participate in. We need to populate our French lives with relationships.
It will soon be time to leave for our first bus adventure of this trip. It’s 8:30 am in the US – even though we’ve eaten breakfast and lunch, we’re finally (2:30 pm in Paris) ! You can just call us “Rips” as we venture forth to a new day!