Saturday, July 18, 2009

Random Thoughts and Some Cautions

We're home again, but I'm still somewhat in Paris. After such immersion for a week, the city still echoes and echoes: Memories of paintings, sculptures, historic buildings, monuments to literary and political figures; outside tables at crowded cafes, book stalls bordering the quay, barges tied up along the banks of the Seine.... It's all there, swirling in my thoughts.

I forgot to mention that Thursday, our last gadabout day, we had a glass of wine at the Deux Magots. The cafe was one of Hemingway's haunts, at the edge of a triangle called Place Sartre-Beauvoir, and across from Le Flore, another literary/artistic hang-out. We stopped by to break the long and hot walk back from Musee d'Orsay through a street lined with art galleries. (Paris has entered its sizzling stage of summer, although the same night there was a loud, intense thunderstorm that rattled our windows before calming down.)

Despite my love of Paris, I think I should mention a few cautionary points for visitors to Paris.

1. You really DO have to beware of pickpockets. Everyone told us this, and we were very careful, but even then, someone managed to pickpocket Rajan near where we stopped for lunch. They probably thought they were getting his wallet, but it was his blackberry, and, thanks to the marvel of cyberspace, Rajan was able to email ATT an hour later and have the account suspended.

2. The museum pass, which sounds so good, is a little tricky. If you like to see a lot of places briefly, a two-day pass, or even a four-day pass is a good buy. If you're like us, and linger over paintings, statues, explanatory plaques, and like to take your time savoring the experience, you're better off buying separate tickets at each museum. Many things worth seeing are free, anyway. And two locations covered by our pass that we had planned to see (the Trocadero Aquarium and the Picasso Museum) were closed for renovation.

3. It's good to get batches of Metro tickets, which come in sets of ten. But for some reason, 6 of the first set we bought didn't work in the machines and had to be re-issued each time at the counter. This was perhaps the only place that I saw Parisians get frosty and unfriendly. Several other tourists were having the same problems with their tickets, and it did not bring out the best in the people behind the counter.

That said, however, generally we found most Parisians gracious and warm. And this was one of the best vacations of my life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Mitty--Just read of your Paris sojourn which brought back in a flood of happiness my recent Paris sojourn with my granddaughter--what a place! I enjoyed your descriptions of thunderstorms and Impressionist and that way of being efficient and intent yet relaxed that only the French seem to know how to do. Such a place, such a people! How lovely to sit in a little doorway sipping wine in the middle of it all.