Paris, day 4



leopard lady
Originally uploaded by mikefranklin.

My last day in paris was sunny and comfortably warm. I stopped by the usual café for the usual breakfast ordered from the usual people. On Sunday they remove the stools at the bar, presumably to discourage lingering. Prices are cheapest at the bar, more expensive sitting inside, and most expensive sitting outside. Afterwards, I stopped to watch a dance/song event at the base of rue mouffetard. A woman in a leopard-print top sang, and a couple in white danced in the sunshine… somewhat difficult to expose properly, but underexposing .7 stops did a reasonable job.

Nearby, I noticed a line at a bread shop, and indeed, it seems that Sunday was a day for the french to stand in lines, for bread, for meat, for cheese, for bread. Ah, the joys of fresh food, easily available

It was also a good day to shoot people since there were a lot of people in the market, and a lot of people taking pictures. I so hate standing out, but on Sunday I looked pretty normal, walking around with a camera. In one spot, I was accosted by the most annoying street vendor I’d ever seen, selling bouquets of some small flower. He didn’t quite tackle people, but he came close, shoving the flowers in their faces, announcing «deux euros! deux euros!» Few if anyone bought them.

We chatted a bit – he hoped to make a sale, I just like to talk 🙂 The unintended consequence of this was that after he wandered through the crowd, he would return to his original spot, shove the flowers in my face and yell «deux euros! deux euros!» Being good-natured has disadvantages, sometimes.

I meandered further up rue Mouffetard (the usual route) and heeding the rumblings of my stomach, stopped for un crêpe de nutella et banane. A brief pause, a discerning look, and the fellow said “one moment, please.” I explained en français that I understood «un moment». He chuckled, and corrected «un petit moment». ok, fine. whatever.

Be he was a talkative chap, and we discussed politics as he made the crêpe. OK, he discussed, and I struggled to keep up. His main concern was the environment and global warming, and determining which candidate was better for that. Gotta love the one-issue voter.

I continued my usual meander up rue Mouffetard, stopped at the pantheon to take a few photos, and continued yet again to the Luxembourg Gardens – always a pleasant place to stop and watch people. And shoot them. The stomach rumbled yet again, so I made my way back to the Pantheon — more photos — and again down rue Mouffetard, stopping to get a sandwich of tuna and salad, which I ate at the park in Place Contrascarpe, while kicking the same pigeon out of my personal space with annoying frequency. It eventually gave up and waddled off.

Back down into the market, where I once again ran into Monsieur Le «Annoying Street Vendor». He looked happy to see me (after all, I wasn’t being rude), and the price of the bouquet came down to just one euro. He noticed my MIT class ring, and offered his entire set of flowers for it. ha! I think the final offer was all the flowers and 50 euro, but still much to low. A hearty slap on the back, a handshake, and he was off, finally.

A stop at the hotel to download my 350 photos, then up to Nôtre Dame, yet again. There were a bunch of guys on inline skates, skating between small, evenly-laid cups on the ground. Unfortunately, they skated with the sun at the their backs, so head-on photographs were a bit tough. The entry line was overly long, but the sun was warm, so I just sat in the plaza in front of the church, and watched the sea of humanity slowly move by.

I wandered back to Centre Pompidou, watched some really terrible street performers, and then started heading back, suddenly in the midst of a crowd of young people carrying signs reading “free hugs!” The attempted to hug just about everyone who crossed their path. Despite walking next to me for about 10 minutes, I was never offered a hug. I guess I didn’t look like I needed one.

Photos processed, and uploaded, IMs exchanged, it was time to find dinner. Back to Place St. Medard, I tried the café across the street from the breakfast café. A small salad of salmon and shrimp, followed by a lamb steak with potatoes, and a glass of wine. Quite an excellent meal, and not more than $35 I think. hehe. The waiter seemed to have two conversational modes: broken english, or slurred french. Somehow we managed, and he seemed surprised at the €0.90 tip I left, since service is included. I actually just didn’t want the small change, but I thought it best not to mention that.

Day 5 began too early at 6am with some photo uploading, then off to the café for un créme et orange pressé, then across the street for a still-warm chocolatine – a chocolate croissant. Then back the hotel to retrieve the luggage, then to checkout … where I had to endure an argument between one of the owners and a guest or a potential guest. I missed most of it, but they were politely irate to each other. The owner kindly broke off to check me out, and call a taxi for me, then promptly re-engaged her adversary.

The taxi arrived in five minutes as suggested, and off we went, the driver had the annoying habit of constantly changing pressure on the gas… every 5 seconds or so. Accelerate, pause. Accelerate, pause. Accelerate, pause. Accelerate, pause. I felt sea-sick after several minutes. The incoming taxi driver recommended allowing 1h 30 for the drive; the fellow at the hotel recommended 30-45 minutes; my friend max suggested at least an hour. I had 30 minutes to get to the airport in time to wait three hours. Conveniently, it took about 32 minutes. I was the line for the checkin at SAS, and while the flight was apparently full, I was still able to get a seat in the front. Security was brief; my shoes stayed on and my camera bag received barely any scrutiny.

Another cappuccino and a water … I clearly didn’t speak french natively, and the fellow behind the counter looked downright surprised that when he told me the price of six euro soixante-dix, that I was able to provide €6.70 without staring blankly at him waiting for an english translation. Of course, I’d done the math a moment earlier, so that made it easier.

So now I sit in Satellite terminal 7, waiting to board in 1h 30 to head to Oslo, where I can have the pleasure of waiting nearly three hours to my flight to Tromsø. I just hope I can find some plugs there, since there seem not to be any in the Paris airport … unless I can unplug the €2 massage chairs. hmmm.

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