An iPod isn’t really the best platform for good writing, so as much as I might like to try and weave things together into a good narrative, this is my out.
My days seem to consist of doing nothing, which doesn’t usually make for great stories, anyway. Today, I walked. And ate. A lot.
First, I had breakfast. Some sort of sweet tart and cafe au lait. While looking out the patisserie window, I saw a bus that said Gare Montparnasse, which is the train station for trains to Chartres. Not only that, but I had just read that there were a lot of crepe places near there (something about Bretons not going far after taking the trains in to Paris for work?). Anyway, when I’d finished my breakfast, I hopped on the bus. A crowded ride later, I arrived. I wrote out my intended destination on a sheet of paper. Somehow, people never understand me when I try and say “Chartres.” it seems to be supposed to sound something like a phlegmmy “shat.” But I digress. Anyway, I showed my piece of paper to a guy in a uniform and he pointed me upstairs to buy tickets there. Glad I didn’t stand in the long ticket line near where I’d been, downstairs! I went upstairs and saw a bunch of ticket machines. It was already 12:15, but out of curiosity, I checked to see if there was a train leaving soon. There was one at 12:30! Perfect! Except, of course, that the ticket machines don’t seem to take US credit cards. No microchip. Oh, well. Checked and saw that trains on Monday cost the same, and decided to go look for a crepe, instead of the ticket line.
There were a few creperies nearby, but none appealed to me. Too close to a busy street, too crowded, too much English on the menu, too something. So I walked on, past a park on a street that reminded me of some (specific) place in Buenos Aires. And walked more, enjoying the perfect upper 60s and sunny weather. And wound up who knows where, on a less busy street that seemed more “local.” I spotted a brightly painted restaurant and like an insect, was drawn to it. In the window were 4 giant quiches, and the one lady inside was very welcoming. I asked for her recommendation (cheese), but then ignored it when I heard that another one had bacon in it. I mean, this is me we’re talking about. I opted for vegetables instead of salad as my side, and then asked about the toilet. This turned out to be down an alley (she pointed it out to me, as I was clearly not understanding her directions). It was the old style hole in the floor type, and there was no sink. When I got back to the restaurant, she let me wash my hands in her kitchen sink (yay, soap!). As it turned out, she’d microwaved the quiche and veggies and everything was mushy. Not the best meal, and I was kicking myself for not buying a little quiche I’d seen in a bakery window a few minutes back. It’d been much cheaper, too. Ah, well. Experience… In any case, onward!
Walked, walked, walked, dodged freshly deposited dog “Chartres,” checked a metro map (at the place d’Italie) and, huh, I’d been walking east instead of north. So much for my sense of direction! Corrected course, and when I saw a patisserie, I went in. After an indecisive few minutes, I opted for something baguette shaped (but smaller) with white chocolate.
Just outside, an old woman down on her luck sat on the ground and quietly asked for money as people walked by. I don’t usually give money to people on the street, but many of the people who passed by did. And here I am, eating my way across Paris. I only had a few cents in coins in my pocket, but dropped a few into her cup as I left.
After a bit more walking, I came to the palace du Luxembourg, and poked my nose into the park. There, I found hundreds of people out enjoying their Saturday, nuzzled on benches, sunning themselves on chairs, having picnics, etc. The parks here have some paved paths, but many areas are just whiteish dirt/gravel. I guess it feels more like “nature” or something? In any case, it creates quite a bit of dust.
I had set out with the idea of making it to the Musee d’Orsay, but by the time I was even close, it was about 3:30 and it seemed kind of late to start that, so I headed back across the river, over the walking bridge with locks on it, and toward the Marais. I wound up walking through the Chatalet area before making it up to the area near my hotel. I didn’t want to just go back to the hotel, though.
After I uploaded yesterday’s post, I hung out at the cafe/bar and finished my beer. Once they’d turned on the outdoor heater, it was quite comfortable. At one point, I noticed that someone at the table next to me was drinking what looked like a bright red beer, so I asked what it was. Turns out, they put strawberry or peach syrup in beer. Apparently only girls drink this. When I told them that we sometimes put flavored syrups in coffee, the guy in the group looked a bit shocked and said, “don’t tell that to an Italian!” but apparently putting it in beer is okay. I decided to try the peach version before happy hour ended. Yow, sweet. Might be okay layered with Guinness though, black ape style, but I won’t order it again.
They were an interesting group — 1 guy and 2 girls originally from Corsica. He was working on an android app, his girlfriend was studying for an English exam she needed to help her become a flight attendant, and her friend was a pianist just in town for the weekend.
This afternoon, I didn’t have the same luck in meeting people (or finding wifi), though there was some good people watching at the bar I found near the hotel. The waitstaff were fun to watch, running around cleaning glasses, stuffing baguettes in a big box, stepping out for smoke breaks, restocking the supply of strawberry and peach syrups…
After I finished my glass of wine, I stopped in at the hotel for a wifi fix and to rest my feet, then went out for dinner. Scallops in a cream sauce and steak. Too much food, too much money. Tomorrow: keep it simple.