The Continent, Part 1

I’m currently sitting at a sturdy hardwood desk in my hotel room.  To my right a door opens to a small patio area, outside the Dolomites are blanketed in wet clouds.  Some aged Italians are huddled under the front veranda waiting out a rain shower.  To my seven o’clock Dylan is doing some shower laundry, we haven’t had a washer for over a week and we’re finally stopped in one town long enough that we can wait for clothes to air dry.

Since my last post we’ve been on the move, little time to sleep, let alone sit down and write.  So where have we been, well Paris for one, which I delighted in upon arrival, fully enjoyed for one whirlwind day, and was more than happy to leave behind.   Getting off the Eurostar my sister (Jessica) and Steve were waiting to guide us from Gare du Norde to our hotel on the Canal St. Martin.  They’d brought a welcome baguette, container of goat cheese and fig jam, bottle of wine and some chocolates.  A picnic on the balcony, a moment to relax and sip while getting to finally catch up with Jessica and Steve after the last week of rushed hello’s and bigger agendas.

In the morning we had café crema with the whole group in a dingy corner bar, eating bacon and goat cheese quiches bought from a nearby Patisserie.   From the canal to the Bastille, where Ken pilgrimaged to the Harley Shop and Kelly and I watched the parade of the fashionable.  Tight-rolled pants are in this season.  Per Steve, the revolutionaries that marked the Bastille as a western place of not graduated from mere head-chopping to eating fresh bourgeois hearts and other unmentionable acts that never made it into popular history.  Passing through city like Paris I feel like a leaf blowing through, never able to settle in and ground myself.  There are deep layers of historical, social, cultural and gastronomic context that the tourist never has access to.  Intent has little effect without the time to dig deeper.

That said, Paris is still a great city to breeze through.  Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Arc d’ Triumph, we spent the day touring the grand monuments of Western civilization along with thousands of other pilgrims snapping pictures for personal posterity.  In the Eifel Tower cluster-fuck pick-pocketers scanned marks with hard, shifty eyes.  On Diplomat row a drum solo echoed out from the Azerbaijani embassy. Along the Champs Elysees the stench of money was overpowering, Ferraris cruising the boulevard, Maserati’s idling on side streets, hundreds of Asians queuing for entrance to Louis Vuitton and the chance to pay thousands for a handbag, pretty people as far as the eye could see.  Outside the Louvre, the evening softened the edges of the slate building walls and black spired roofs.

At the end of the day, after walking many miles, we wound up roughly where we started, in a well used bar.  I’d eat Parisian pub food any day of the week.

To be continued



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