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As always, Paris continues to surprise the unwary traveller with many new and unusual treats. For instance, for the past twenty minutes, Mom and I have been entertained by a brass band playing in the square of the St. Michel fountain, which we can see from our hotel room. Lovely, except that they bring more enthusiasm than proficiency to their performance (although I was particularly struck by their rendition of "I was made for lovin' you"). 

Our hotel is in the midst of quite a touristy area, which hasn't made for the most wonderful meals, and has made for some very crowded streets. But we are, as promised, in close proximity to everything, like Notre-Dame and the Louvre. In fact, the first night we arrived we walked around the cathedral and along the Seine.

Yesterday we went out to Saint-Denis, the burial place of French kings. It's apparently the first cathedral in the Gothic style in France and was really spectacular: it had beautiful stained glass, and the memorials to the kings (some covering their tombs, some simply monuments) were wonderful. We saw the tombs of Pepin the Short and his wife, Bertha Big-Foot. The tomb of Henri II and Catherine de Medici was also very beautiful. The atmosphere in the cathedral (during the first half-hour we were there, and before all the tourists came) was unbelievably still and peaceful. Then it was off for lunch and back into Paris, where Mom and I separated for the afternoon.

I went off down to the Mitterand site of the BN to renew my reader card (much busier than in February, although the renewal process was very simple), and then back up to the BN-Musique to see about copying out more of the partial scores I brought home last year (I was trying to save a few euros, but of course now I wish I had the whole thing). Alas, Paris has been suffering through a heatwave (now past) and ALL the paper in the ONE functioning microfilm copier was sticking. I made a grand total of 10 copies before the machine and the librarian both gave up the ghost. "Come back tomorrow," said the librarian "or perhaps Wednesday, and maybe the machine will be fixed by then." So back to the hotel I went, where I found Mom similarly disappointed: she had wanted to visit the Orsay, which was closed on Monday, as were most of the shops she wanted to visit (mostly antiques).

As if that weren't trouble enough, Mom's camera has been acting up (something is loose somewhere inside, so that it can't complete its warmup routine) and no one has been able to direct her to a shop which might be able to repair it. 

This led to much disappointment last night during our after-dark river cruise, during which I took five times as many pictures as usual to compensate for the fact that Mom couldn't take any. I think I might have about twenty or thirty pictures of the Eiffel Tower at night. But some of that can be explained by the fact that the Tower itself lit up in a spectacular display of sparkling lights just as our boat cruised by.

Today we explored the Garnier opera house (because the BN-Opera didn't have the stuff I wanted on microfilm either, so no copies from them!) and then I went back to the BN-Musique (where the machines were still not working). We passed by the Orsay but the line to get in was so big that as we were leaving another pair of women rounded the corner, saw the line, and started laughing almost in despair. 

Tomorrow we're going out to Fontainebleau (I hope). We hope to buy a train/bus/chateau admission package, but considering our average in Paris so far ... I think we had better be prepared with a backup plan! (Yay! Versailles!)

In Poland!

Jul. 25th, 2006 09:18 am
ma_vie_en_paris: (Default)

Just a quick note to let everyone know that we are here safe and sound. We've had a bit of a nap, but I could definitely use more! Especially considering that Air France has apparently decided not to pay any airport docking fees this year! 

In Paris the plane parked opposite the terminal, so we had to take a bus all around the exterior of Charles de Gaulle airport (a trip we then repeated to get to our terminal for our flight to Poland). We found the gate for our Warsaw flight, went down the hallway, to a set of stairs, which we took down to ... another bus! That bus also went all around the exterior of the airport until we arrived at another set of stairs, which we climbed UP to our plane. 

Then when our plane landed in Warsaw, guess what? Yep, once again we parked OPPOSITE the terminal and took the bus in. We whizzed through Polish customs (I handed over my passport, the guy looked at it, stamped it, handed it back and shut off his light. Done for the day!), waited FOREVER for our luggage to come off the plane (hey, maybe it took a trip around the airport too!), found a taxi and off to the hotel. 

And soon it will be time for supper and then, bed again.

ma_vie_en_paris: (Holland)

Only four more days until I leave for Poland, and somehow it doesn't seem possible that I will manage to get all the things done on my list before I have to go! Errands to run, things to clean, things to wash, things to pack, things to print out and other things to photocopy ... Eep! 

Tomorrow I have to go and pick up my Polish money at the bank; today I got my new passport (and can someone explain why it costs more money to pick up the passport myself, rather than have it sent to me via registered mail?).

None of which explains why I am at the moment ensconced on the sofa, watching the results show of So You Think You Can Dance. But it's pretty comfortable, I must confess.

And I found a workable outline for my twentieth-century class. Plus a cool article in the New York Times on a hyper-modern composer.

So, overall, I'm not ready to be super stressed just yet.

There'll be plenty of time for that tomorrow!

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