Monday, May 12, 2014

Paris, Enchanted as Always


 
Paris was enchanted as always, but it nearly didn’t happen.

The night before our departure M asked me where her passport is. In the safe I said. "Where’s the key?" she asked?

My mind was a blank…zilts…nothing registered as to where I put the keys..

I locked the safe the last time to prevent my grandson’s little fingers to get hold of the keys and I put the key in a place I couldn’t remember. You see, the safe is a small mobile type used more for safeguarding important documents against fire rather than theft and the keys are usually left in the lock.

My mind was totally blank. This must be the aging thing and it is driving me nuts.

Tomb of the unknown soldier under the Arc of Triompf

For the next hour or so we took the study apart looking for the keys. Gone! Couldn’t find it. It seems when I screw up at least I did a good job. But my life was hanging on a thread now. I had better come up with a quick solution of face the worst. No explanations required.  

Hacksaw, I thought? But what if the lock mechanism was made from titanium steel? A hacksaw wouldn’t make a dent in that material. Explosives? Yeah right! Where the hell would I find that? And I’ll probably blow everything inside the safe and myself to the dark side of the moon. Back to hacksaw idea. Luckily I could pry a hacksaw blade between the lid and the box of the safe and make tiny back and forth movements. I was hacking away at something there, not quite sure if I was actually cutting on the bolt mechanism. But it was my only option. I had no other idea. Eventually, after what felt like a lifetime I cut through the lock mechanism and found the passport lying innocently inside.

I was one very relieved individual.

 Parisienne Sidewalks

Either we were fitter than we thought or just crazier than usual because we walked and walked all over the historic center of Paris. No wonder we were bushed when evenings came along. There were a lot of spur-of-the-moment decisions made. What didn’t we see last time, so let’s do it this time scenarios or, while we are in the vicinity let’s go and see that, or it’s a nice day, let’s not spend it in a museum and see something outdoors.

 Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte III rooms at the Louvre Museum, The Grand Salon with its imposing chandelier. Grand is a very appropriate word for this room. 

At the Louvre we were selective. Our prime reason for going back to the Louvre was to visit the Napoleon III rooms, which last time were being restored, and also for another swing through the old masters sections. Saturday morning we woke late and we planned to go to the D’Orsay museum, but on our way there we had breakfast at the L’Fragate with a full view of the Louvre and it being such a nice and partly sunny day we made an impromptu decision to skip the museum, catch a bus instead and head for the Arc de Triompf for a photo session of the grave of the unknown soldier and to climb the stairs to the top for a view over Paris. It was okay, but really not worth climbing all the stairs. The museum on top was a waste of time.

M on the Alexander III Bridge, one of 37 bridges that span the Seine River in Paris and my opinion the grandest of them all.

Thereafter we walk around the Grand Palace and the Pont Alexander III area before we caught another bus to the Notre Dame area. We visited the garden behind the church, which we missed last time, and at the bridge behind the church a guitar player was making beautiful blues music.
 
Meandering though the Saint Severin neighborhood.
 
We meandered through the St Severin Street area where Greek, Lebanese and French restaurants spill out onto the narrow streets and we stopped for a breather, some people watching and a drink at Brasserie St. Severin before we strolled back to our hotel as dusk was descending upon Paris. We had an al fresco dinner at Brassiere L'Atlas while being serenaded, initially by a Dylanesque troubadour and his guitar on Rodriques and other folk rock songs, before a man and his accordion came around to enchant us with typical French music.

Modern Paris as seen from the Arc de Triompf  

Even though our feet were tired, bodies still adjusting to local time and generally jetlagged, we went to fetch warm hats and gloves at the hotel and back we went into the Parisienne night for another walk, experiencing the streets and boulevards at night, eventually ending up, again, at the Seine where river boats laid either quietly in the dark or noisy and brightly lit with late night activities. It was already beyond midnight when we crossed the Pond du Carrousel, the bridge that span the Seine River near the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in front of the Tuileries garden to enter the Pyramid Square of the Louvre.

 The Louvre museum and glass pyramid at night. A sight to behold.
 
What a sight! Lying majestically in the dark night, the brightly lit glass pyramid was protectively embraced by the Richelieu and Denon wings of the museum, shining its golden lights radiantly upon the old stone walls of the old palace. A teenage girl was trying to stand on one of the many light pillars while her friends tried to snap pictures of her, but she kept falling off and they all burst out laughing. Lovers walked quietly hand in hand while other folks lean against the glass structure peering down into the reception hall of the museum below.
 
One of the statue halls at the Louvre at night
 
Down one of the entrance arches a musician, heavily clothed, was extracting mournful sounds from a cello, his half-gloved fingers frozen from the cold while a stack of his music CDs was standing next to his open instrument case with a few coins inside. But it was also here, through one of the big windows that opens onto the museum’s statue hall that one can get a unique view of the classical statues one can never get from inside the museum.
 
Eventually we dragged ourselves away from the Louvre, made our way in ziggurat fashion back to our hotel and fell into bed at around 3 AM, feet exhausted, body drained and senses visually drunk on Paris.

The moustache brigade. Charlemagne, the legendary French King, in front of the Notre Dame de Paris. Notice the modern cleaning brush. A joke by someone as a reference to the brush beards?   
 
At the Louvre at night

1 comment:

boerinballingskap said...

Ek leef in daardie Paryse strate met elke inskrywing wat jy doen! Jou reisbeskrywings is boeiend en foto's indrukwekkend. Dankie! :)