30 May 2005

T @ Eiffel Tower

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Metro Entrance

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26 May 2005

Cathedrale de Chartres - it was grand!

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25 May 2005

Salon on bus No. 67

An impromptou literary salon broke out on bus #67 as T and I rode over to Montmartre to see the apartment I will be renting next month, and to visit Sacre Coeur, a church that overlooks all of Paris. A young chap around 30 years old, wearing a smart vest, white shirt and beige cotton blazer -- and a matching beige driving cap -- commented on a book that an older and less stylish gent was reading. The exhange alone would warrant me writing about it. I had no idea what they were saying, but I knew the topic of conversation. The two were sitting in seats that faced backwards, and our seats faced forward. It was rather entertaining from an observer's point of view. I can only tell what they said because T translated the whole thing for me later.

The two were both reading books by the same author. The younger chap commented on this to the older gent, and their discussion quickly turned into a debate. Had you not been there from the start, the exchange might have been viewed as an arguement. However, the discussion seemed rather civil to me. It had a lot of passion behind it, like conversations do when they have to do with politics, religion, or in this case literature. A pair of pre-teen boys sat a row behind us, engaged in a similarly heated discussion which appeared to be about the features on one boy's mobile phone, or perhaps about text message that had been received.

With the literature debate, both men were so eager to get their point across that they couldn't bear hearing the other man out. They tried to be respectful when they could help it. Age is definitiely acknowledged in all French exchanges. I suppose knowing that his stop was approaching made the younger chap more impatient. It could also have been sheer conviction that his position was superior. He held up an index finger to prevent interuption whenever he needed more time to state his case. "That doesn't interest me," the younger man said casually, when his opponent's claim failed to impress. He then went on to explain why his arguement was better. It was a rather civil debate that ended with them both shaking hands and the younger chap getting off the bus and walking towards the Louvre.

A man sitting nearby witnessed most of the debate. He was carrying pink and white roses wrapped in paper, and chuckled with the older fellow saying, "It's good to have these kinds of discussions." The older chap crossed the aisle to sit near him, and they started their own discussion. Perhaps a new opponent would be interested in his opinions.

23 May 2005

The French are cold

The French are cold. The temperature inside the 767 we travelled on was cooler than usual. T reminded me of something I had heard before - that French fear a draft. Sure, French women wear scarves because they are fashionable, but more important is the protection scarves provide their French necks. Drafts allegedly bring on illness.

After T mentioned this, I couldn't help but noticing that nearly all of the French people on the flight were wearing sweaters and jackets. It was extremely warm when we left Dallas and few of us Americans had bothered to prepare for the possibility of coming in contact with cool air, and potential illness because of it. Being overweight and often flushed, I was quite pleased that cool air had replaced the usual stuffiness of an airplane's cabin.

When we boarded, a sealed plastic bag rested on every seat. It contained a headset for the movie, a pillow and a small, burgundy colored blanket. Once the flight was underway and people had settled into their seats, it became apparent to the French that the temperature inside the plane was not going to stabilize. Quite possibly, it could hover perilously around 67-degrees for the entire nine hour flight.

One by one, the burgundy colored blankets started appearing. Each person had their own ideas about how the blankets could protect them. A man at the front of the cabin stood near the bulkhead gazing back at the rest of us, with his burgandy colored blanket draped over one shoulder and across his midsection, looking much like Caesar. An olive wreath atop his balding head would have been fitting. One man in his 20s, not afraid to look uncool, had his burgandy colored blanket tied around his neck like a poncho with bow-tie aspirations. Most of the chilly French simply wore their burgundy colored blankets over their shoulders like a cape. Because of the blanket's color, they alllooked to me like a group of Harry Potter's classmates from Hogwarts. Unfortunately the modest blankets had neither impressive crests sewed onto them or magical powers with which to elude danger.

Well into the flight - when the first movie was over and the cabin lights were dimmed, in the row next to ours, a mother tucked the burgandy colored blankets under the chins of her three children, who were asleep in their seats. She seemed pleased with herself. I was still enjoying the cool air that was wafting out of the directional nozzle above my head.

22 May 2005

Technology on the continent

I swore that I wouldn't cave in -- that I wouldn't bring gadgets to France. I had daily arguments with myself about "keeping it simple." It would appear that I am on the losing end of an argument with myself.

When the guy at Geeks-R-Us gave my pre-Y2K laptop the kiss of death, I thought the decision had been made for me. Then my partner's boss spontaneously offered me her spare laptop. Surely this was a sign from God. Now I am taking a laptop, PDA,digital still camera, and a digital voice recorder.

Should breaking news present itself, I will be armed and ready with the basic tools.

At the very least, the gadgets will make it easier for me to keep this blog updated. My school in Paris has a computer lab, but I am more excited that they have free WiFi. Borrowing the laptop will also keep me from having to use french keyboards, which are not in Qwerty formation.

17 May 2005

Stormtroopers invade France

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Train Station becomes Musée d'Orsay

I'm not in Paris yet. I will leave on Sunday. But today I was reading about the Musee d'Orsay. They were prepared to tear the building down in the 1970s, but fortunately someone thought better of it, and the Musée d'Orsay was created from a former train station at the end of 1986. I am looking forward to spending time here. I am sure I will visit more than once.

When I lived in Washington, DC, our house was a block away from the Phillips Collection, where Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party is part of the permanent collection. It's my favorite painting, and I loved the fact that it was just around the corner. It's a large painting (51 x 68 in.) and has presence in the relatively modest neighborhood building.

At the Musée d'Orsay I am looking forward to seeing Le Moulin de la Galette. It has the same spirit of Luncheon of the Boating Party. Not all of Renoir's work has as much energy. Curiously, the people in both paintings are having a grand time, though it appears that nobody makes eye contact with any one else. Ironic.

08 May 2005

I have no intention of visiting EuroDisney

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