Friday, July 17, 2009

Paris

Paris is one of my favorite cities to visit.

After our original plane in Chicago was taken out of service for maintenance, a substitute 767 was quickly found and we left Chicago 90 minutes late. The flight was very smooth and I actually slept reasonably well, arriving in Paris just 1 hour late.

Yesterday, Paris was hot (89f) and sunny. Last night thunderstorms moved in (while I was having dinner at an open air cafe) and it's been cloudy and cool since.

Getting in late meant I only had to wait about an hour for my room which really made the day much better. After a hot shower, I headed to the Orangerie Museum and took in the Tuileries before heading back to the hotel for a break.

Today I took the Metro to the Picasso Museum and then navigated my way through le Marais to the Pompidou Center and their enormous collection of 20th Century art.

The iPhone's maps application is pretty handy. Getting off at the St Sabastien metro stop I typed "muse de picasso" into the map and hit the search button. Within a few seconds, walking directions popped up without having even entered an address. I used the GPS tracking to make sure I was on course. Same thing when heading to Pompidou. Just typed in "pompidou center" and walking directions popped up.

Another great iPhone app is Paris Metro 09 which lets me pick starting and stopping stations and it routes me -- all off line-- with the most direct train lines. Anyone who has used the Paris metro knows what an overwhelming maze it can be.

Having had my fill of museums for the day I walked past Norte Dame and took the metro back to the neighborhood by my hotel for a sandwich and some wine at a local cafe. Yesterday I wasn't crazy about the neighbor around the Hilton, but it's growing on my fast. The cafes I've hit have been filled with locals and the food has been good and reasonable.

One typical Paris Metro story. I was at the Bastille station looking at a map on the wall when a very young Roma girl walked up to me and literally stuck a tiny infant in my face as I turned around. The girl could not have been older than 16 and the baby appeared to be only days old. She held the baby up like it was on a platter. The baby was sleeping but not even wrapped in a blanket. Behind her was another girl who appeared to be slightly older with an older baby. When I said "NO!" both girls just giggled and moved on to the next tourist. She never spoke to me so it was unclear if she wanted money or was selling the baby.

Tonight I'm heading to Monparnasse for dinner and more walking around Paris.

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