Been finding my feet in the City of Light. I’ll start catching up now. It will still be on a day or two of delay since I’d like to think about my experiences, not just report them.
Atlanta’s new international terminal is sleek and squeaky clean, with acres of polished marble and pristine glass. At 6pm it was also mostly empty, a plus for me. When the time came to board, I was surprised at the atmosphere of intense competition and animosity. The seats are assigned, right? Despite the billion prior announcements that passengers are to board in the zone order assigned, there were any number of scofflaws who argued this point, and elderly people throwing elbows and glaring at the families with infants who dared to precede them. One man complained bitterly when a woman who must have been eighty kept trying to cut in. It was more of a hostile mob than a line. And, as I mentioned, the seats are going to be there. Why the rushing and shoving? For the limited space in overhead bins?
Landed groggy but chipper and trotted through Orly terminal halls lined with excellent enlarged early photographs (acrobats in motion). I glided through customs and spent my brief wait time in baggage claim trying to get my phone to work. It took awhile, but Verizon and the iPhone came through. The driver held up my name scribbled on a piece of paper. He drove a very nice town car that wafted the faint odor of expensive men’s cologne and eau de new car. It smelled like business class. Freeways congested with traffic are dishearteningly alike everywhere, so I will draw a veil over that.
The Marais district was obvious from the foot traffic, and the architecture that combined charm and grandeur. The driver pulled up alongside my concierge and I popped out. I got an instant orientation lesson. “That way,” Matthias said, pointing left, “is the river. You see that building that looks like it is at the end of the street? It is on the other side of the river. The other way is our main street. It has everything you could desire. Groceries, pastries, ATM.” He insisted on carrying my luggage and I gratefully let him. Through a wooden door so heavy I have to use both arms and shove with my hip. Down a narrow stone and tile corridor with other ancient doors and wrought iron bannisters branching off of it into a bright, bare stone courtyard. Through an open glass door on the far left, up two flights of narrow, worn wooden steps et voila, I am in my home for the next three weeks in Paris.
I thanked him, unpacked, and headed out on a quest for milk/tea/sugar and cash. The streets were bustling. Not choked, but definitely thronging. Lots of people of every conceivable size, shape, race, and gender. Every last one of them well-dressed and brandishing an iPhone.
I brought the right clothes (insert sigh of relief). All the women are wearing a variation of leggings or tight, narrow-legged jeans. They all seem to wear scarves too. Lots of variation on the stylish shoe. Again , nine out of ten people on the street are on their phones. I had read I ought to leave mine in the bottom of my bag, but what’s the point? Every one has got one in hand as they walk, sit, stand, or pedal their bikes, and are they are all furiously talking or tapping away.
They are all moving fast and if any give gives me away, it’s that my eyes linger here and there. On the main street was everything, just as Mathais had said. I pulled out some cash from the ATM. No one jostled me or swarmed me or grabbed for my money or anything. I bought staples in Monoprix and got an lovely brie and tomato baguette, and a slice of tarte tat in for my diner from the corner patisserie, Miss Manon.
I probably brought too many clothes, and I doubt I will ever wear my winter coat. It’s mid-seventies and I am comfortable in a long sleeve shirt, and too warm with the hoodie added. Can’t figure out how to get the induction cooktop to come on for the life of me, but I can work the microwave so it’s okay for now. Typing this in an effort to keep my eyes open until 7:30.
It’s very, very quiet in the back courtyard. Lucked out there. Yawning and blinking Tomorrow, the Louvre.