People ask me since I’ve returned if this walk changed me:
Yes! Yes! Yes!
I feel I am stronger in many ways that I never knew before. I touched traits of myself that I have always had but did not fully realize. A sense of Peace is with me…I got to visit my ancestral homeland, the town of Zeerijp, where my family (the Zeeryp family in Traverse City, Michigan) came from.
Travel changes you…here are some of the things my journey taught me:
- I am strong, independent, and self-sufficient.
- I learned that when you travel you meet a wide variety of people
- I was blessed by many “acts of kindness” from strangers.
- The word “classy” has a new meaning for me after experiencing the sophisticated tastes and styles of Europe:
- Quality over Quantity
- Travel is inspiring and exposes you to many new things.
- Keep it clean, keep it simple.
- Even though you don’t always know what the next step will be…take it anyway.
- Always treat people with smiles and kindness.
- We are more alike than we are different. (I found like-minded souls on this journey)
- Your internal compass will always guide you—listen to and trust your own inner voice.
MY INTENTIONS BEFORE LEAVING
The spirit of Anne Frank (1929-1945) launched my walk in Amsterdam, at the train station on June 10th. Her words:
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God (universal love). Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.
I started this walk with the positive affirmation to be strong mentally, physically, and spiritually. I began with the intention to make a serious effort to manifest happiness, success and a peace of mind. I focused on living in the NOW with my life on my back for 40 days. I love feeling the earth beneath my feet and the wind on my face. (With some added sunshine and rain). Finding the simple joy of life… Yes.
This walk gave to me the awareness of a beautiful world in its natural state. I listen to the breeze through the trees and the songs of the birds in flight above me and the sound of my feet on the ground walking also.
Walking is my way of changing the world for the better. I hope to set an example, honoring myself by doing what I felt I believe in.
If I could sum up my journey in one word, it would be “cool,” my adventure of my lifetime. As my daughter said, my trip is the dream of every 24-year-old out there in the world. It was fun, exciting, and all worth the cost both physical and monetary.
WEATHER AND WALKING
During the summer the weather was not always perfect. In fact, I wrote about it at times. It rained almost every single day in the Netherlands and Belgium, often with thunder and lightning, with me as the lightning rod.
Because of the inclement weather I found myself sometimes not walking as much as I had originally planned.
There were days when I was walking, soaked and cold in the rain, and when lightning struck nearby I got on the train. When I arrived at my destination I kept faithful to my mission of walking 10 miles a day, or more by walking around and viewing the sites in my home for that night.
Walking below sea level in the Netherlands, I thought about the unrestrained temper of the North Zee and its connection to the land and the wonderful people of Holland. The incredible network of dams and innovative constructions hold back the forceful water, supplying strength to this land composed mostly of seas, canals, waterways, and rivers.
On my walk I listened to my heart and soul, I felt I was being led and guided by love and right action. I found beauty and love each day and it created in me a happy spirit.
I feel like I am harmonizing with life, that things are in perfect order. I am being my true self filled with emotions, yet in control.
When you write from the core of your own being, you become the author of each moment you live your life. I am the author of my own experience, as I now realize.
When I came back home to the United States I walked barefoot for 2 days to feel the earth beneath my feet.
When I got back home and drove my car, it felt like a tank.
THANK YOUS AND CLOSING
A very special thank you to all those friends and family who help make this possible in many ways.
By supporting my Plumfund you helped support my research on my new coloring book Part 1, The Flowers of Northern Europe. (I took hundreds of photographs to form the basis of my new art coloring book.) You will be getting an illustration (at some point) of a beautiful European flower.
Listen, I truly, loved all the people I met along the way. I felt such overwhelming kindness from many strangers, especially those who opened up their homes to me:
- The beautiful Dutch family in Haarlem, Netherlands.
- The kind, intelligent gentleman Hans from Bresken, Zeeland who so kindly gave me a sightseeing tour of the area and the history.
Please send me your address, so I can properly send you a Thank You note from the United States. A picture would be nice too.
Let me not forget “Sam” (Samantha) from England, an adventurous young lady who was simply lovely, and a happy spirit of fun. She was the perfect roommate during those numerous hostel stays.
And a very special Thanks to my new Paris friends Maevà
Jean-Marie, and his mother Marie, who opened their hearts and home to me too. Vous êtes tout simplement le meilleur!
Thanks especially for all the family support, my kind lovely husband Eric, who was a big part of helping me achieve my goal of walking from Amsterdam to Paris. Also, Yes! To Emerson, Iris, and our new son-in-law Sam.
All in all, everyone THANK YOU.
I am Blessed and Loved.
12092 McCourtney Road
Grass Valley, California 95949
I awoke to overcast gray fluffy clouds in the morning sky. Showered, dressed, and finished packing. I said goodbye to Jean-Marie who took such good care of me during my stay in Paris. I was actually speechless. blessed by the kindness they showed me.
I had toast one last time with the lovely lavender honey and a fresh cup of coffee. I visited with Marie and then said goodbye to the two cats, Pepper and Chouquette, a Persian cat. (Chouquette is like dark-sweet chocolate). I once had a Blue-Russian Persian cat many years ago named Perrier.
Before I left I did plant the basil plant from the market on the balcony as I had promised Jean-Marie that I would do that for him.
Marie rode the Metro with me to make sure I got on the right train to take me to the airport. Her kindness was unbelievable, her wisdom and grace will be an example to me, to be more like that.
She gave me her address and phone number so I could text her when I got to the Charles de Gaulle airport. I did find my way there without any trouble. The worst part of flying, as we all know, is the long lines you have to go through in order to check in. I’m all for safety. Afterwards, I ate a wonderful fresh lunch and waited for my flight to take me back home.
Eleven hours later…
San Francisco, California.
Paris on a quiet Sunday morning. I started to pack and figure out how I was going to carry everything to the airport. My ankle still hurt but I put some more Arnica cream on it and took homeopathic tablets to reduce the swelling (Arnica Montana). Just what the nurse ordered and it helped.
Today there was a big soccer game in France that would determine the winner of this year’s European Cup. Soccer (or “football”) is a very big deal here; it has been following me since Amsterdam. So it’s fitting that I find myself ending my sojourn in Paris with this huge game between Portugal and France that starts at 9:00 pm tonight. The weather today is hot and muggy, so it’s good that the game is late in the day. I personally have never watched a soccer game and was unclear about the rules, the how and why of the game. Yet, I was easily excited too. Since I was in the best of company it was fun to watch the energy and tension of all of this. Guess who I was rooting for?
In the afternoon we all walked back to the market to pick up fresh bread and get some fresh air. Dinner turned out to be another fresh French delight.
At 9:00 pm all eyes were on the game and it was intense. The energy and whirlwind of it all was amazing. (At one point I was texting Emerson in Oregon and he was watching it too!) I kept thinking about the fact that all eyes were on Paris, and here I was. Neat.
Portugal won the game. It was a hard battle fought. Paris was quiet. I retired.
I slept in this morning and got up after I hear Marie leave to take out the family dog “Toffee,” like the candy. She is a sweet little furry friend who loves to bark and she was very excited about my coming to visit in her space.
I had a morning breakfast of toast with a tasty lavender honey from the south of France to go with a great cup of French coffee.
Marie was kind enough to wrap up my ankle with a fabric stronger than the gauze I had been using. We decided it would be best for me to just let my swollen ankle rest this day. So I was fine with going to the movies to see the newest Woody Allen film Café Society, starring Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg. It was a quick Metro ride to the MontParnasse neighborhood near the tallest building in Paris called the Gare Tour in the 15th Arrondissement. After the movie we enjoyed a lovely Paris lunch, complete with French wine, of course. Lovely.
We went back to the apartment and planned the rest of the day, just relaxing and planning dinner. I volunteered to cook as my way of thanking Jean-Marie and Marie. They were fine with the suggestion of pasta and salad. At around 4:00 pm we headed to the market to go shopping for dinner. In France, it is very common to eat a lot of fresh foods.
We headed over to the center of the neighborhood markets. Jean-Marie picked up fresh French bread, cheese, and wine and then we stopped by the vegetable market. So wonderful, fresh tomatoes, garlic, and a rich growing basil plant–the ingredients for a gratifying, winning dinner.
We walked back and simply enjoyed the warm summer afternoon. I had fun making dinner in someone else’s kitchen.
Later, after dinner Jean-Marie and I watched Michael Moore’s documentary “Where To Invade Next.” Personally, I had forgotten how good it was about showing us Europe and their beautiful culture. We did not finish the film but nevertheless I still enjoyed the movie as much as the first time I saw it. I retired for the evening, once again with gratitude in my heart.
I made it to the Louvre by taking the Metro. (Once again, thank you Maéva for all your lovely instructions and for taking the time to tell where to go and what to see. Believe me, it saved me a lot of useless wandering, even though Paris is perfect for simply meandering around.)
I arrived at the Louvre and the crowd moved through the entrance pretty fast.
It was self check-in and was actually quite easy. The good folks at this amazing art museum understand the essentials of crowd control and getting people in and out. I guess they have gotten used to it over the years, since it opened in 1793!
The Musée du Louvre is on the right bank (rive droite) of the Seine River. (The famous Latin Quarter, home to artists, poets, musicians and many delicious restaurants, is located on the other side of the river, the Left Bank (rive gauche). It was built originally as a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II in 1180-1223. For more than 800 years the Louvre Palace has changed its complexion, from a medieval castle to the gargantuan museum that it is today. The Louvre has become a central focus point in France’s Capital City. It became the first public museum during the French Revolution and it even served as an apartment for Napoleon at one point. The Louvre is the world’s largest museum.
I started my wanderings through history with the Near Eastern Antiquities (7500 BC-AD 500). This included the finest collection of Egyptian Art I have ever seen, including that at the British Museum. Here you can see the masterpieces gathered from numerous great civilizations, including quite a few from palaces and temples in the Middle East, including Turkey, Iran, and places like Iraq.
Then I explored the incredible world of Greek art, and on to the sculptures, vases, weapons, jewels, furniture and pieces of the history from the Romans. (Each wing in the museum represented different time periods and world locations.)
My favorite piece was the La Victoria de Samothrace (“The Winged Victory of Samothrace” in English) (190 BCE). This amazing piece is a very incredible Greek marble statute that seems to float above us in its perfect ravishing beauty.
I also visited the Decorative Arts of Europe (500-1850). There I was pleasantly surprised to discover precious objects, jewelry, tapestry, glassware, and rooms and rooms of gold-layered furniture. Very stunning this beauty, breathtaking, gathered from the time of Louis XVI and his Queen, Marie Antoinette of Austria. (Mademoiselle Antoinette held this post for seventeen years before her untimely demise.) She was known as “Madame Deficit” due to her extravagant spendthrift ways which wound up costing her her head.
I saw some French paintings but not a lot. This Museum is so big that it would take a week to give it a fair viewing, and even then you probably would still not have seen everything. After three hours I was pretty overloaded with such exquisite pieces of fine art. I did make it into the Grande Galeria and saw the famous Mona Lisa, an oil painting from the early 16th century by the great Italian painter Leonardo da Vinci. The room was packed with eager tourists scrambling for a closeup of the enigmatic smiling lady, and it was just too crazy to even try to get close to the actual image. Yet, I managed.
Interesting facts: In 1911 the Mona Lisa was stolen. Although it had been in France since the opening of the Louvre, it was returned to its homeland of Italy. In 1939, the famous painting was hidden in the castle Montal in Quercy (southern central France) to protect it from the Germans during World War II.
The entire history of French architecture is represented here at the Louvre.
After I left the museum I walked over to the garden across the street near a lovely place called Galerie Vivienne.The Palais Royal was also very close.
I visited a shop called L’Aparte which turned out to be very impressive. The lady who owned the store made beautiful paper flowers that were delicate and simply gorgeous. In this fleuriste shop the flowers were painted on tea lights. I kind of regret not picking up a few, but I was just so concerned about carrying anything more than what I had in my backpack, for the final journey to the airport.
Afterwards, I had lunch at the Eric Kayser Artisan Boulanger (bakery). It was perfect, replete with beautiful fresh food. I had a salad, apple, and a peppermint lemon ice tea. (aux thé vert citrons et larme de menthes). It was a fantastic lunch and everything around me was perfect. The nice folks at the table next to me spoke English so I asked them where they were from and they said California. After a bit they told me they are from Palo Alto; it is such a small world.
Anyway, after drinking an espresso with a tad of chocolate,
I moved on down the street in search of the Opera House that Maéva had described to me. I walked down the street: du Quatre Septembre.
At one point I saw an opening for an art show title “An inadequate history of conceptual art” which I found amusing.
After finding the Opera building, which was astounding, I took some pictures and decided I needed to get back to Maéva’s neighborhood. The day was turning warm day and it was getting hard to walk on my sore ankle.
I picked up a French market basket so I could carry things on the plane and bought some green and peppermint tea to bring home.
I spoke with Jean-Marie and let him know that I would be back at the apartment shortly so I could pack up to move over to his home. His family (wife and four children) just left to stay at a French island in southern France just off the Mediterranean coast. Jean-Marie will join them later at the end of this week. His mother is here to visit and also to take care of the home and pets.
I came in and started to pack and Maéva came back. (I was very happy to see her because she has been extremely kind to me.) Many blessings to her beauty, both inside and out. She helped me carry my things to the cab so I could make it to Jean-Marie’s home and it was a bittersweet goodbye. She had to go to a funeral in the morning for the unexpected passing of a friend and then to a wedding later in the evening on a boat on the Seine. Then her fiancé was due to arrive from Belgium. He too works making movies. Sweet.
In the cab headed towards Jean-Marie I took a photograph of the Eiffel Tower. It was great to reconnect with Jean-Marie and then to meeting his lovely mother Marie from Chambery, France, a town the size of 60,000 people. She is a retired nurse and helped me take care of my ankle. I am in the right place at the right time. Together we had a perfectly lovely French supper with salad, cheese, bread, and wine. I am so cared for and in such great hands.
Just before leaving Maéva’s place and getting into the taxi, Maéva shared a piece of music with me: My Walking Stick by Tommy Dorsey from the 1930s. It was the perfect parting song from the perfect hostess. Together we walked to the taxi. (Maéva was kind enough to help me carry my basket.) She spoke French to the cab driver to make sure he clearly understood that he was to take me directly to Jean-Marie’s place. It was a wonderful feeling to be in the hands of someone who took such good care of their house guest. Friends are the world’s greatest gift.
In the cab the ride over, the driver was very quiet. He turned a corner at one point and there right in front of me was The Eiffel Tower. I grabbed my phone to take a picture of this magnificent structure dominating the Paris skyline.
I arrived at Jean-Marie’s place and he spoke to the cab driver like a longtime friend. Afterwards, I asked him Jean-Marie he knew the driver because they were so friendly with each other. He said no, that he was just checking to make sure I wasn’t “taken for a ride.” Jean-Marie asked me if I left him a tip and I said yes. He was glad because this driver was really honest; Maéva also made sure he knew where he was driving me to. How sweet. Then I went upstairs in the lift to the fourth floor and met Jean-Marie’s mother, Marie (pronounced “Mary”). I just love the French language. Everything sounds like a song. Marie prepared us a pleasing delicious dinner of salad, cheese, and wine.
Afterwards, Marie told me she was a retired nurse and that she would take care of my ankle. She was a very loving woman and she told me that I should sleep with it elevated, which I did.
A perfect ending to a most perfect day.
Today was the morning to take a walk into the Museé Rodin and its gardens. You can see the entrance at the far end of the Boulevard des Invalides, a typical Parisian street scene.
The air was perfect and the sun was out. I took the underground Metro to the Rodin House, a refined and very elegant place to call home. I had excellent directions from Maéva and felt like I was already getting a better understanding of the intricate workings of the Paris subway system.
Once I took my seat on the train I was admiring the couture of a gentleman sitting next to me (Rémy). I complimented him on his buffalo plaid scarf (very similar to a shirt Emerson had when he was about five). Emerson and I had a conversation yesterday about how to tell the difference between a male and female scarf. As if there is one…anyway, Rémy smiled as we talked and showed me the label with his beautiful French manners. I probably could find the scarf in a department store. We exchanged simple small talk and Rémy handed me his business card. The train stopped. I was going to get off at this stop so I reached in my bag to give Rémy my business card but the train door shut and pulled away, so I missed my stop. Oh well, I’ll just get off at the next station and backtrack.
I wished Rémy a lovely life on this overwhelming summer day in Paris.
As I made my way to the Museum I noticed that in Paris people really do kiss on Main street, just like in the Joni Mitchell song (“In France They Kiss on Main Street,” from The Hissing of Summer Lawns album, back in 1975).
I made my way to the Museé Rodin and decided after suspiciously eyeing the long waiting lines in the hot Parisian morning sun that I would just walk through the gardens and the cafe.
I was still researching the flowers of Europe for my coloring book. At lunch I had a beautiful salad (“Androméde“) with smoked salmon gracing the lettuce accompanied by a simple glass of French white wine.
I then continued my excursion into Rodin’s garden where I was privileged to see many of his sculptures, such as The Shade (1904).
Rodin was influenced by the works of Michelangelo. Rodin used anatomical distortion, a new sculptural technique that was his own invention.
My favorite sculpture in this garden was that of the French naturalist painter Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848-1884), the foremost expressionist of painting in action.
Clearly Rodin captured the image of the artist as the “inspired observer.” There were many other pieces of works, such as the “Monument des Bourgeois des Calais” (Bronze, 1886). This particular statue has a figure who appears to be walking with a backward twist, a graphic representation of the inner suffering of the Hundred Years War (1337-1453).
Another great piece in Rodin’s Jardin was the famous “Gates of Hell” (1880-1890).
It was built and designed for the entrance to a Museum of decorative arts (abandoned in 1889). It was inspired by The Divine Comedy by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321). Rodin also sculpted a much larger version of the figures featured at the top of the triptych known as “The Gates of Hell.”
The several figures represent the tragic nature of human passion, despair, afflictions, and horror. There is also a version of this bronze piece in the Rodin Sculpture garden at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
After visiting the many wonderful sculptures in the Jardin I made my way towards the Seine River that is the aorta of the City of Lights. Enveloped by the 70-degree weather (21-degrees Celsius), it was a perfect day in Paris.
My ankle was feeling its best in days. Maéva gave me Arnica cream to help with the swelling.
I have to count my many blessings. I walked down by the river and just enjoyed watching people on the street, young and old.
Residents and tourists, all moving along at their own pace with their lives in tow.
I made my way back to Maéva’s apartment, but she was out for the evening with an old friend from Barcelona. Neat.
I had dinner, worked on this blog, and retired by 11:00 pm. I was woken by the noise from the street of revelers who were celebrating the win by France over Germany, putting them in the finals.
This day of July 7th was simply beautiful in the magical Jardin of Rodin and seeing the Seine River.
My mission for today was to visit Le Jardin du Luxembourg.
I left after breakfast because I had another appointment to finish my pedicure.
Afterwards I felt that the entire pedicure was overrated; the girl never did massage my feet, and to me that was the most important part of the entire process. It was not worth the price of 49 Euros.
Anyway, I don’ t like to complain. The girl was sweet in her French way. Afterwards, I left and continued on up the street. I found a bakery and had an espresso with some bread.
Then I visited a shop to find a Paris hat for the wedding in August; Maéva had recommended this place. The shop was called Chromatic Bis, located at 92 rue Mouffetard. At first when I walked in nothing excited me in simple elegant looks. Then the owner, an extremely nice lady, started to help me and yes, I found the perfect hat in shape and color, handmade in France. It was just what I wanted so I bought one in gray and gave her my business card so she could follow me on this blog. I took her picture wearing a dark rosy pink-colored hat (same style as the one I purchased).
I then moved on, happy with my new hat.
I walked up to the post office and mailed some postcards to friends back in the United States. I had stamps from Belgium and The Netherlands on the cartes postales but quickly realized that they wouldn’t work now here in France.
So I bought the right stamps and added them to the cards. I picked up a few more stamps while I was at it. I then walked to the top of a nearby hill to a place called The Place du Panthéon. It was incredibly large, huge in fact.
I walked around a bit and then made my way into a little market to pick up some lunch for a picnic. I got some blueberries, yogurt, and water, perfect for an outdoor lunch.
When I was checking out I noticed a candy bar that Emerson had asked me to bring back from France (Kinder Maxi). Normally, I would not buy anything with sugar, but it was exactly what he asked for and he never asks for much.
I saw so many families with small children on this journey. It fills me with gratitude knowing there is a loving generation in good hands, for our future world.
I found my way to the Jardin and once again was thrilled by the luxuriant beauty.
I strolled around and stumbled upon an incredible overlook. I sat on a garden chair near the pond and gardens, a perfect place for a picnic.
The sun was warm, the ingredients for a lovely day.
Afterwards, I left and found myself on a busy street looking for a bookstore that Maéva had recommended. I finally found it, the Gilbert bookstore, and it was four stories high and overflowing with lots of books. I felt I was in paradise the most perfect place. I sought out the children’s book section in the basement and then I found the most perfect books.
I stopped for coffee then headed back to the apartment to get ready for a birthday dinner with Jean-Marie and Maéva.
At around 4pm Maéva sent me a message asking me to meet them at the restaurant for dinner. She sent me two addresses. While writing them down, Eric called and threw me off track. Without realizing it I wrote down the street bus directions as the directions for the underground Metro. Oops.
Well, to make a long story short I ended getting off at the wrong Metro stop and I was totally turned around. Before I left the apartment Eric recommended I take a taxi. Thinking back on this maybe I should have taken his recommendation. I got lost after I left the Metro. After about an hour Jean-Marie finally found me near a store called Malone.
Then we had a beautiful dinner at a restaurant called Nanashi, Le Bento Parisien. The cuisine was French Asian fusion, and it was delicious. Dinner was wonderful; everyone was happy and joy filled the air. Oh, so lovely!
I haven’t made it to the Musee Picasso yet…maybe on Sunday. I really need to rest my sore ankle for a day. Jean-Marie ‘s mother is a nurse and advised me to stay off my ankle for a few days. I walked 10.28 miles (16.5 km) today.
Maéva and I said good-bye to Jean-Marie and his best friend from childhood and took the Metro back to the apartment. We had a cup of tea and then retired for the night.
I am now getting dressed and going out to the Museé Rodin.
It’s late afternoon here in Paris and I am enjoying a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Today was the first real nice day with sunshine all day. I just got back from the Art District and find myself in a more energetic neighborhood with fewer tourists.
In the morning my hostess Maéva (Jean-Marie’s brother’s girlfriend) found out she did not have to work so we had a delightful breakfast together of French press coffee, yogurt, bread with jam, and fresh fruit that I had picked up yesterday–blueberries, raspberries, and cherries.
Afterwards I headed out the door to the Jardin des Plantes,
at most about five blocks away. Nearby there was also the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle,
and Le Grand Galerie De L’ Evolution.
Maéva said she would join me after she took care of some of her business and running errands. Once I found the gardens I busied myself gathering photos of the many different varieties of flowers. There were lots of roses and statues spread out along well thought-out garden paths, including a statue of a gentleman named Buffon (1707-1755).
Buffon was Count Buffon (7 September 1707 – 16 April 1788), a French naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and author of encyclopedias.
The place was very large and covered about four city blocks (if not more).
I was simply enjoying my time with such beauty surrounding me. I took a lot of photos for design ideas for my future coloring book on the flowers of Europe.
The garden had Lavender, Cosmos (at least 20 different kinds) Magnolias, Black-eyed-Susans, Artichokes, Allium, and a very beautiful Japanese flowering tree (that was Maeva’s favorite). There were blooms of white flowers in the springtime. The beauty of nature gracing our presence.
In the park there was L’Ecole de Botanique, a school where they study botany.
Yes, and they had a piano that anyone was allowed to play also. This is pretty common over here, to just let people sit down and play the piano in public places. I personally think that is so cool. It brings a smile to my face and in my heart.
There was some kind of National strike going on and in the background of these gardens you could hear police sirens going off a lot. (To be honest, France always has some kind of national strike going on…)
At one point they seemed to be controlling the flow of people in the park. They were also cutting bike locks to clear the street in case of a riot, so Maéva left early to recover her bike before anything happened to it. But before that we had a lovely walk around the park and it was very special to get a personal tour of such a place of magnificent beauty.
I walked back by the street of Rue Mouffetard (the place I had a hard time finding yesterday). I finally located the Maison de L’Autre Thé tea shop where I did some shopping,
…and then I went to find a place to get a pedicure. At the Nail Bar the young woman behind the counter asked me to come back at three. So I came back after lunch, but they didn’t have time to really do anything but remove the old polish off my beaten toes. All I really wanted was a foot massage after all the miles I put on my feet during this past month, plus.
I had a quiet dinner, showered, and then retired for the night. I did call Jean-Marie to touch base and wished him a happy birthday, knowing that tomorrow we would get together and celebrate.
I woke to a quiet room in a perfect little French apartment. Outside you could hear the construction workers setting up a scaffolding next door. They were speaking in French. Maéva warned me about the construction workers, saying it can be shocking to start to get dressed or step into the shower only to realize that you have company.
Maéva has such a beautiful laugh! I smile when I listen to her lovely broken English with a cute French accent. She is very smart and works as a First Camera Assistant (Director of Photography, DOP) on movie sets. She just recently completed a video called Versailles. Cool. She left very early this morning to do some work for a fashion show for Christian Dior.
I never did see her again this day; she got caught up in her work I guess. (We spent Tuesday together).
It’s Monday, the Fourth of July back in the United States and it’s my first full day in Paris. It was a tad overcast but it doesn’t matter, it’s Paris and it’s a lovely day in this civilized city full of so much beauty. I spent the morning unpacking my backpack and washing some clothes. I ate some of the fresh bread from yesterday and washed it down with some extra strength French press coffee.
Even back home people think that I’m so French. I blend right in here with ease…on my walk someone told me that they thought I was Swedish. People don’t seem to think of me as an American and that’s just the way I like it.
Everything is so elegant and appealing to the senses here in France. I was ready for my adventure. I set out with map in hand for the magnificent day about to greet me.
The night before Maéva was so kind to me. She shared with me a view and understanding of what was in this neighborhood. It was extremely helpful, actually; the best part is always knowing were North is. I locked up and put the house keys around my neck so I would not lose them, then made my way down the four flights of stairs. I just love old city buildings even though this one doesn’t feel that old for France. It’s just a wooden spiral staircase creaking from many years of use. I am sure it has many stories to tell.
I got down to the front door with the letter “D” on it and pushed it, but nothing happened.
Then after figuring out that, duh, I needed to press the button, the door finally opened. I was laughing at that point because I really didn’t want to feel trapped inside. A neighbor saw me and smiled.
I smiled back, walked out into the City of Lights, and immediately turned left. There was a huge wrought iron gate that seemed locked. Oh, another twist to my getting out of the complex. I was trying to figure out the gate when this beautiful French woman hit a button on the wall near a door and the gate opened. I laughed once again on how out of place I must have looked…Jean-Marie forgot to mention to me that I had to press the “bouton” to open the gate, or maybe I was not listening.
So I turned left again following my instructions and made my way to a busy street. I stopped to take pictures just in case I lost my way. The street was Rue C. Berhard. At that point I took a right and was just walking, enjoying the city views.
I walked around in a big circle for a long time and finally stopped at a bakery for lunch and coffee. It was splendid. Afterwards I tried to find a tea shop that Maéva recommended but had no luck. So I just kept on walking around, having a great time just hanging out in this grand place that is so pleasing to the eye. I found myself in an Art Supply store (of course) and picked up some watercolors for my traveling watercolor box. It was very, very small (I have to be careful about what I pick up, because everything weighs down my backpack.). The quality of the watercolors is so superb; made in France. A treat to myself.
I’m still blindly trying to find some shops that Maéva told me about, but no such luck. I did find some small independent bookstores. I was looking for children’s books in French for future family members.
(Think August, when my daughter Iris gets married.)
It’s 3:00 in the afternoon and I just found a place to sit down after walking around this fine Paris neighborhood for what seems like hours…my feet already feel better than they have in days. I just ate a lovely salad and yes an espresso. The good old French.
It is the Fourth of July, but not here…they have their Independence Day in a few weeks. Bastille Day, you know, the French Revolution, le Quatorze de Juillet (July 14).
My daily wanderlust got the best of me and I was feeling like it was time to get back to my Paris apartment. But first I stopped at an open fruit and vegetable market and picked up blueberries, raspberries, and cherries. (Maéva said cherries (“cerises“) were her favorite). Mine too.
I came back after walking up those four flights of stairs, loving every moment of them. Then Jean-Marie called to see how my day was (he was sweet). Also he wanted to talk about dinner on Wednesday night, the day after tomorrow. Since Jean-Marie’s birthday is Tuesday July 5 he wanted to spend that day with his family. I totally get it.
I retired for the night after writing a bit on the blog.
It’s Sunday in July and I was just woken up by church bells here in the Hotel Alsace Lorraine in Amiens, France. This is a very pleasant French place. I was hoping my foot would feel better, but no such luck. The weight of the backpack is causing the irritation in my ankle, I’m pretty sure. I’m not terribly concerned, just in a lot of pain. Once I lose the pack I should feel better.
The pain got to be so bad that I just made my way to the train station saying, “This is it, Paris, here I come!”
I bought my ticket, sat around waiting for the train for a bit, and then I called our friend in Paris who will put me up for the next week, good ol’ Jean-Marie. (Eric worked with Jean-Marie in Paris when they were both at Sun Microsystems about 22 years ago, and he and his former girlfriend have come to stay at our home in Mountain View, California a few times.)
What a lovely gentleman! Jean-Marie asked me to give him a ring when I arrived at the main central train station in Paris “Gare du Nord.” (It’s like Grand Central Station in New York City.
So I got off the train in lovely Paris and called Jean-Marie. He directed me to the Paris Metro station (their underground subway system, very comprehensive, organized, and civilized). Jean-Marie told me to get off the train at Line 4 stop Alesia. (Eric and I stayed at the Hotel Alesia about a year-and-a-half ago when we visited Paris for my first time.)
Jean-Marie greeted me at the top of the escalator with a big grin. He was joined by his eight-year-old son Gabriel, a quiet intelligent young boy. We stopped for apple juice and wine at a typical outdoor French café nearby. I told Jean-Marie that I needed to eat something since all I had eaten at that point was some French bread.
We left the café after about 20 minutes and went across the street to a bakery. I ordered some bruschetta, basically bread, cheese, and tomato slices. It’s like pizza but different somehow. Anyway it was the perfect food for the moment. I picked up a croissant for young Gabriel and fresh bread for the morning.
I also called Eric to let him know I made it to Paris safely. Wow.
Everything here in Paris is beautiful, even the gray skies. I picked up some flowers for Jean-Marie’ brother’s girlfriend, Maéva. Maéva and Fred (Jean-Marie’s brother) will be giving me a bed for the week.