August 29, 2009

Random Paris Thoughts

I have all these ideas when I'm walking around, and of course when I sit down to write I can't think of anything (except to brag about my new iPod!)

So, here goes: A random collection of things I've been thinking about the last week or so.

The bananas in Hong Kong were the best I've ever eaten. ... Food prices in Paris seem higher, but upon weight conversions, etc., really aren't any worse than Ralph's. ... The Fran Prix in the Marais is markedly more expensive than the Monoprix in the 17th, which seems slightly counter-intuitive. ... At the Paris Plage festival, there was a big old jungle-gym type thing that was incredibly dangerous to my American eyes, and all Paul and I could think of was: The insurance for that thing must be really high! ... The best thing about the Marais, to me, is that we are half a block from one of the best bakeries in Paris, and get to enjoy fresh and still-warm baguettes daily. ... I found a butcher at the Bastille market who sells the most amazing roast chicken I've ever eaten. ... I am realizing that all I have to say is about food. ... I love having fresh flowers in the apartment, but all the florists are still closed for the summer. ... Speaking of closed, doesn't it seem a bit odd that a shop that specializes in ice cream would be closed for the month of August? ... We had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, right at the base of the Eiffel Tower. I never get tired of going there. ... I find my French has come back rather well, but I can't grasp certain vocabulary words that used to come easily (like puree for mashed potatoes -- but maybe it was the wine) ... Everyone raves about the efficient Metro system here, but it is the bus system that is the real star of public transportation. You get a mini sight-seeing tour with every trip. ... It's amazing to see the population of a neighborhood triple as summer comes to an end.

August 28, 2009

Summertime, and the Living is Easy

It's a funny thing about memory. While I enjoyed my time in Paris, I'm not sure I ever decided, consciously, "I don't want to leave Paris." I guess I always imagined I would, in the beginning, and then it turned into a sort of resignation. "I've been here seven years now, probably just going to stay."

In any case, I found myself thinking this morning, while walking through the Marais, "I don't want to leave Paris." We have had a perfect confluence of events here. Empty streets, beautiful weather (today is especially gorgeous) good times, good food, ultimate relaxation.

When you are on vacation, it's easy to forget what December is like -- short and dark days -- and to ignore the daily indignities that go with city living.

We are all too aware that our remaining time is short, and I'm not exactly in a panic, but I certainly am reluctant to get back to reality -- whatever that entails.

One thing is sure: We will do this again.

August 25, 2009

Something for Nothing

Since we arrived, some people have been offering free 10-minute massages on the Pont St. Louis. It seems to be a crazy concept: A visitor sits on a little canvas stool and someone gives them a quickie 10-minute body massage. After walking by a half dozen times, I decided to give it a go.

It wasn't a hot day, so that wasn't an issue. And it wasn't a weekend day, so there wasn't a big crowd. I just sat in the chair and the woman got ready for my massage. It's free, she said. And we don't do your front and you must leave your clothes on. (As if ... I'm sitting on a public bridge!)

And then she proceeded to knead my neck and shoulders, then my back, then my arms and legs. I was totally blissed out, as you can tell from the photo.

I tipped her E1.50 (which is what happened to be in my wallet) and she asked me to sign a petition asking (the city?) permission to conduct this public service in the winter, in the Metro. And presumably not on the train itself .

What better publicity than a free trial of something like this? I think perhaps it was organized by a massage school in town, although I'm not certain. They gave me a slip of paper with an email address, presumably to make a paying appointment. They also had the url of a youtube video.
The blurb with the video says:

Un super concept de Convivialité Citoyenne et Job de complément pour Etudiants, Chômeurs, Retraités. Formation rapide et gratuite, y compris à distance.

Roughly translated, and my French friends will be sure to correct me if I err: A super idea of of citizen friendliness and a side-job for students, the unemployed and retired people. A quick, free course is available, and can be taken by correspondence.

What a way to de-stress from the rigors of city life!

August 24, 2009

If You Wish Hard Enough ...

You may recall my iPod has been relegated to an iPaperweight. Big red X of death and all.

Well, I got an extremely pleasant surprise (OK, a really exciting surprise) when my sister- and brother-in-law arrived in Paris over the weekend and gave me a shiny new iPod for my birthday. Seems they read my sad blog entry and thought of the perfect gift.

Honestly, it's too much. I hadn't wished for a new one -- it's an extravagance right now -- and figured I'd just use my old one on batteries once I got home. Having said that, of course, I can also say: "I love it and am thrilled to have received it!"

It's a shiny silver iPod Classic with 120GB of space. More than I can listen to in a month. And so now I will sync from my laptop, maybe put on some photos, download a movie or two ... and I'll be good to go.