After a month driving around France this June (we did the opposite loop direction in 99), we spent our 50th wedding anniversary in Paris, where we met old graduate student friends from the sixties for dinner and drinks. I’ll spare you most of the typical tourist shots of the Eiffel Tower, substituting toilettes and subways instead.
It really didn’t matter that it rained a good part of the three days there. Better than the terrible heat wave when we were there with our two kids way back in 76 in our VW bus with no air conditioning, after driving across Europe from Romania, our daughter just out of intensive care from viral meningitis gotten at the Constanza on the Black sea, and our son recovering from a middle-of-the-night emergency appendectomy in Transylvania (long windy sentence, I know; I could write a book on those misadventures and others in the era of Çeaušescu).
Back then I had just spent the year teaching linguistics at the University of Transylvania (Babes-Bolyai University), and we were driving to Paris partially because first grader Steven wanted to see the Mona Lisa. We sent the VW back to Seattle with 4 bottles of home-made 120 proof plum brandy hidden in the spare tire compartment. I had taught at the same university on another Fulbright cultural exchange in 67-68, pre-kids. We named our daughter Sylvia in honor of Transylvania (beyond the forest).
Paris from Montmartre:
The Arc de Triomphe, Napoléon’s monument to himself
on the Champs-Elysées in the rain:
As in 99, we never got in to see the Nôtre-Dame Cathedral because of the long lines. Here Pat stands (scarf) in front of just a portion of the line:
If you can’t get into the cathedral, shoot it with your iPad:
Pat in front of the scene of her favorite movie,
dressed not in the latest fashions of gay Paree:
What is unusual about this pool? Well, it’s down in the subway (Métro):
Paris is so easy to get around in with the help of the Métro maps. We took 13 subways in three days. I was using my trekking pole cane and EVERY TIME I STEPPED INTO A SUBWAY SOME YOUNG TWENYY-SOMETHING OFFERED ME HIS OR HER SEAT. I know, capitalizing is like shouting, but contrary to the stereotype, we found Parisians to be incredibly polite. Not as cheerful as the Italians in general, but almost always polite to a fault.
Paris is truly an international city:
Some of you may remember the old street-corner “pissoirs,” where from the outside you could see the feet and heads and shoulders of the men inside. Well now the (free) unisex toilettes automatically lock when someone exits, are completely automatically sprayed down, washed and disinfected inside before the door unlocks and the next person can enter. The new Europe.
Self portrait reflection in a shop window, a bit of self indulgence: