Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Knitter in Paris - Days 3 - 5

The beauty of Paris is that there is so much history and culture, and yet it is mixed in with a large, bustling metropolis where people go about their every day lives. It is a tourist city that is not devoted to tourism. A place where subway vendors are rude to American tourists whose French is rusty, but where a sweet old gentleman will go out of his way to help the same obviously lost tourists navigate the streets of Monmartre.

Language was not really a problem for us. English is much more widely spoken than it once was, but I tried to practice my French. Though I only had 1 year of college French and it has been more than 25 years since I had an opportunity to use it, I was able to make myself understood. I probably made a grammar mistake in every sentence and I no longer have an ear for the accent (Mostly because I don't have working ears! I have pretty bad hearing loss and am supposed to wear hearing aids, but I never do.) Still - I was able to get where I wanted to go, order what I wanted from the menu, and argue with the waiter when the bill was wrong. Pas mal!

The weather was not good when we were there. Temperatures hovered around 35 - 40 degrees Fahrenheit, at best. It rained every day in the afternoon. There was even snow and high winds one day. We could tell that this was unusual for this time of year, because flowers were already in bloom and there were green leaf buds on the trees. Oh, well! Cold weather is good museum weather. With our 4 day museum pass we saw the Orsay, Rodin, Louvre, and Cluny (Musee National de Moyen Age) museums. We also used it for our entrance to the Pantheon, the crypt of Notre Dame, and the Palace of Versailles. Oh, and I nearly forgot, we also visited the Conciergerie, where Marie Antoinette was inprisoned before they chopped her head off. The Louvre and Vesailles are great, but the Cluny and the Conciergerie were probably my favorite museums. Smaller, more focused, and far less crowded, we were able to take our time, read the exhibits, and truly learn something instead of just "seeing" the "must see" exhibits.

We walked or used the metro to get around, and found we needed to stop at least twice a day for a hot tea or coffee to warm up. At 4.40 euros for a cafe creme or pot of tea at today's exchange rate it translates to $14/person/day or $28/day on coffee or tea. Fortunately, you can stay as long as you want in the cafe to warm up, watch the world go by, and knit.

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