Friday, June 24, 2011

My Late Night Paris Adventure

The night of Fete de la Musique, I wore flip flops as I had just returned from Lisbon and wanted to wear flip flops or sandles.  The evening was great and wanted to get back in time to meet Howie.  Lynn, Jean-Luc, Theresa and I all split up to take our respective Metro routes home around 12:45 a.m. and my Metro stop was not nearly as crowded as others and was relieved thinking I would arrive home in time to meet Howie.

The time on the Metro clock read 1:02 a.m and I saw the expected arrival of the next Metro to be 20 minutes which is unusual for the Metro further most of the trains were running due to the Fete de la Musique.  Just then a train passed by and didn't stop.  The driver honked his horn as he ran by.  Not a good sign.  Soon there was an announcement in French indicating trains had been suspended.  Now, I know French words and can understand some of what people are saying however, I do not speak French!  All I knew was the trains had been suspended and I needed to get home. 

Note:  The Metro workers went on strike at 1:02 a.m. during the busiest day of the year.  Unions...further, the city officials had no contingency plan if a strike should occur.   Unbelievable.

Before we left Theresa and Jean-Luc's apartment that evening, Jean-Luc indicated there maybe a union worker strike.  Keep in mind, there are thousands of people throughout the city partying and will eventually need to get home.  Oh, did I mention it was raining and I had on flip flops? 

As most of you know, I'm stubborn, tenacious and certain I could get home on my own.  I tried other Metro stations, bus stops, taxis and my metro map to no avail.  By then it's 2:30 a.m. and raining on and off and I'm forced to call Judy and Ekkehard.  Ekkehard encourages me to stay on the street where it says Taxi and someone will stop...I tried to explain that I had been standing at another Taxi area and tried to flag them down and no one stopped.  Ekkehard assured me they would come but I needed to wait.  So, I call Ekkehard after nearly 45 minutes later as not one taxi stopped to pick up e or anyone of the 12 people waiting.  I insisted on walking directions as it was late and he couldn't reach me due to the congestion on the streets.  I wasn't scared but alert and very aware of my surroundings.  It's 3:00 a.m. and I'm on a mission to get home. 

With an umbrella in one hand, I begin a jog walk towards home.  I did get a piece of glass caught in my heel near the Louvre but was able to remove it so I could continue my evening adventure.  Some guy asked me in French if I was OK when I stopped near the river to get the glass out of my heel.  I responded and ran.  I got spooked when I got to the Champs Elysees as it was dark and there were very few people visible to me, so I ran to the end of the strip which is the Metro stop near Judy and Ekkehard's...Charles De Galle-Etoile.  Now, I'm tired, sweaty, have blood dripping from my heel and I'm thirsty but I'm closer than before. 

I reached the Faraday apartment at 4:15 a.m. and was to meet Theresa at 10:00 a.m. to go consignment shopping.  That was not going to happen and I asked Jude if she would send her an email letting her know I had a late night and would follow up later.  I felt bad for Judy and Ekkehard as they were waiting pensively for me to get home safely.  My adventure home took roughly 1:15 minutes due in large part to my getting spooked on the Champs Elysees as well as jog walking like a mad woman with an umbrella set to strike at any minute. 

It was a great way to see the city.

Oui, Paris: Until Next Time...Au Revoir

The night before I left for the U.S., Judy and Ekkehard hosted a great party and invited Lynn, Howie, Johannes and his girlfriend Barbara.  We drank wine, ate bread and cheese and talked about all the great adventures and happenings in Paris and U.S.  Johannes and Barbara arrived later in the evening from Vienna and it was great to see him and catch up as I had not seen him in over 15 years.  Lynn left early as she had class the next morning. 

Meanwhile, Mak was enjoying have Faraday back in order and all the company.  I noticed him playing with a feather in the hallway and thought it cute but didn't think much of it.  A second feather appeared which peaked Judy's curiosity.  It looked like Mak may have caught a bird.  I went out back only to find him on the window box with his head down.  I reached in to grab the nape of his neck but he ran back into the house.   Judy check the windowsill and there was no bird.  Judy thinks the feathers blew in or Mak found them on the windowsill.  I posed the following... In all the years you've lived here with Mak has there ever been a feather in the house?  I think there was a bird but he was able to fly away before meeting his maker...Mak!

Ekkehard and I awoke early to make coffee before our walk to the Air France bus at Port Maillot.  To my surprise, Johannes and Ekkehard both walked me to the bus stop and carried my luggage.  Two porters?  Did I feel special and grateful though I was trying hard not to cry.  I hugged Jude, started to cry and away the guys and I went to meet the bus.  The morning Paris air was cool, crisp and made the walk all the more delightful.  

The bus was packed so I had to sit on a metal bar surrounding the luggage.  What is it with me and luggage racks?  (I have another story about me, a train and a luggage rack).  As we circled through the city on our way to the airport, I reminisced about my time with Judy, Ekkehard, Mak, Lynn, Theresa, Jean-Luc, Susan, Rita, Mark and was delighted to see Johannes and meet his lovely girlfriend Barbara.  And, it was great to meet Howie as I had heard great things about him.
This trip was meaningful, fun and filled with extraordinary experiences with friends, colleagues and family.   Leaving is bittersweet as I love Paris, Judy Ekkehard, Jan and especially Mak.  As I close out this blog and say goodbye to Paris, I'm grateful for the experiences and opportunities and my Paris family.  You've enhanced and enriched my life in so many ways.  Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Jusqu'à la prochaine fois...Au Revoir


Lisbon was great though I spent only three days in and around the city.  I saw and learned a few things about Lisbon's history.  After spending half a day trying to get to Sintra by train, I decided to book an all day tour to Sintra and take a bus.  There are four notable "villa's" to visit but the tour planned a visit to two and the third I tackled on my own.  I would have hit the fourth but ran out of time. 

My two favorites were Palacio de Pena (on the tour) and Quinta da Resaleira (not on the tour). The Palacio de Vila was overrated. The architecture resembled a Spanish influence however the literature indicated the Roman era inspired the architects of the time.   

The Palacio de Pena was formerly a monestary and was abandoned after an earthquake destoryed the structure.  The monestary and was later purchased by King Ferdinand for use as a summer home.  You can see the delineation from old monestary in pink to new colors in yellow.

The Palacio de Pena

You can see how lush the vegetation is around the Palace and the city in general

The yellow represents the modernization of the Palace while the pink resembles the days of the monestary.

My favorite spot was Quinta da Regaleira.  This was the summer residence of the Carvalho Monteiro family built in the neo-manueline style.  The Palace was buildt in the 1500's and changed hands various times.  In 1840, the property was bought by Baroness da Regaleria and was transformed and I mean that literally into s summer paradise.  The lush gardens with grotto's, fountains, a Terrace of the Gods, Chapel ( can't have a palace or castle without a church), Tennis Court, Theatre (outside of course), wells, secret hiding places.  I would have stayed longer if time permitted.  Spectacular, breathtaking, romantic and a great place to take kids and explore the grounds for hours.  It was a dream. 

Quinta da Regaleira


Quinta Da Regaleira

Sintra - a city perspective

Summer Solstice - La Fete de la Musique

La Fête de la Musique is a lively street music festival held on the longest day of the year, June 21st.  It is one of the most popular events in the city of light. Hundreds of musicians gather in the streets, bars, and cafes of Paris, giving free performances of everything from jazz and rock to hip-hop and electronic music. The event begins at 8:00 p.m. or sundown and everyone converges throughout the city.  I could see and hear music as I walked to the Metro to meet Theresa, Jean-Luc and Lynn for an evening filled with adventure.

First stop, Theresa and Jean-Luc's for an apéritif  and a skype conversation with my former boyfriend and he is a colleague of Jean Luc's.  After a few glasses of champagne, off we went to listen to music.  Judy and Ekkehard did not attend has Judy was working as well as entertaining her newest guest Howie from New York.  The music and people rock.  I took some pictures of the streets for you to see what I'm talking about.

Lynn strolling the Fete du la Musique

Drummer, no shirt

Hundreds of people lined the river walkways near Notre Dame.  I've never seen so many people at night!

People at the river near Notre Dame

Hula Hooper at Notre Dame.  I wish I was this good. 

I don't remember learning this at Hoopnotica...Hmmm
Earlier, I made the comment to Judy, Ekkehart, Theresa and Jean-Luc about how outwardly demonstrative and affectionate people are in Paris and Portugal.  Couples hold hands, talk to each other whether riding the metro, grocery shopping, just strolling the streets, dining or drinking coffee.  It was noticable enough for me to make the comment and snap the following picture ala Jean-Luc and Theresa...Enjoy!
Theresa and Jean-Luc at Fete de la Musique


Cafe LUSO is where I finished off my stay in Lisbon.   Cafe LUSO is recommended as one of 10 of the best restaurants for Fado musici.  Cafe LUSO is a restored 17th century stable and features singing, dancing and dining Fado style in a trendy part of town called the Bairro Alto.  I was engaged and entertained the entire time.  The dining areas are long wooden tables with a few smaller varieties for single folks like myself.  The singers and dancers move about the room singing spectacular music.  It was too dark to take pictures so I copied some pictures to try to capture the essence of  Fado at Cafe LUSO.

Add caption

Friday, June 17, 2011

Une petite déviation (a small detour) Off to Lisbon

I will post something about my trip to Lisbon by Wednesday as I'm not certain I will have much Internet access.  I hope you're enjoying reading the blog as much as I am trying to be creative in the way I post!

Au revoir.


Willi's and Wine

It's hard to believe that four people I have worked with at sometime or another are in Paris the sametime as I.  Judy, Lynn, Susan, Rita and her boyfriend Mark and I all met at the Wine Bar (see picture below). 

From left right, Lynn, Judy, Mark, Rita, Susan and Corine

From left right, Lynn, Judy, Mark, Rita, Susan and Corine

Ekkehard and I went to the Museé du Vin or Wine Museum today.  It was really interesting to see the wine making from way back in the 1700's and beyond.  The craftmanship, ingenuity and hardwork makes me appreciate drinking wine even more.  Wine is very political in Europe and not all vintners who manufacture wine get a label.  We did get to taste a some wine and both Tart and I gave a look of "interesting" but not great.  My comment to the attendant was "it's a young wine isn't it?"  She indicated it was and she liked young wines...yuk!