I am reminded of the Far Side cartoon where dogs don't understand anything except their names. That is how it is with me here. When I first traveled, it was a shock to hear other languages over PA systems. Now I don't even bat an eye if English isn't one of the languages used.

Dancing in Zurich
Dancing in Zurich was great! I had met some of the crowd the night before in a Hep Hop class, where they added Hip Hop Styling to the Lindy. Lots of fun, but I have a long way to go before I can Hip Hop with any dignity. We went out for beers, and I look forward to reunions in HerrŠng. Saturday's dance was billed to go until 4 in the morning, and I had serious concerns about lasting very long. Well, when my ride was ready to go around 2, I was still raring to go. My adventures have been recorded by their swing cam. Check out www.swing.ch and click on Swing Cam. I'm in five or so, if I recall. Note the fresh Zurich haircut. And yes, I did smile most of the time. Don't know why the pics are all so somber.

Dancing in Zurich

My Dijon Room
My Room, from my hotel's courtyard
Outside Dijon Hotel
My Dijon Hotel from the street
I spent a couple days in Dijon, which was very pleasant. Another cheap hotel that scored in ambiance!!! The rooms overlooked a cobblestone courtyard, where the restaurant had outside dining. I ate dinner there on my last evening. I don't know what went wrong at the French places I've eaten at stateside, but the portions are NOT small here. I had pork ribs and apple pie, both benefiting from the finesse of a French kitchen. The waiter went out of his way to translate everything when I pulled out my translators while reading the menu. Rude? Another myth shattered.

I arrived in Paris, and found a room with the local hotel service. Well, my luck was bound to run out sometime. I swear the place used to be a brothel, a theory backed up by locals who know the tendencies of the neighborhood. There wasn't a level floor in the place, the walls were covered in burgundy carpet (never a good sign) with a herd of dust bunnies! Luckily I was rescued by Valerie, a local dancer I found on the web. She has housed me in her mother's condo, two floors above her house. I still need to find a place after mom returns Tuesday, but at least she bought me some time. And safety. Before I left I photographed the mold under my window, just in case someone thinks I'm exaggerating. As I was leaving the hotel, having never spent the night, another tenant was heading upstairs, large bottle of cheap beer cradled in hand

Thank God I didn't have to spend the night!

Valerie fed me and we shared dance stories. Everyone here seems to brighten up when I say I'm from Seattle and ask if I know Jonathan Garrigues. I don't think he's on my email list, so if anyone sees him, let him know he seems to have a fan club. Thursday I went to Valerie's Lindy class. They were learning the second half of a LONG routine, and strangely enough, the class was in French. I muddled through trying to follow cues in a language I didn't understand until ten minutes short of the end. The locals were also having trouble following the order, which made me feel a little better. So far I have not been dancing, but may even make my first foray out tonight. Word is, the halls are small, and it is advisable to arrive with someone so that you have someone to dance with. The other word is they get so crowded there is little room to dance, so we'll see what I end up with.

I have spent a couple days walking around, and am sooo glad I have nearly two weeks here. There is just so much to see. Some highlights so far: a bike tour, the Picasso Museum, a Herbert List exhibit, the Dali museum, the Eiffel Tower, two demonstrations, and cavernous subway stations. And here I thought the Greek Islands were mazes! At least Paris clearly labels theirs.

Eifel Tower
Dome Dome
Ex Prisoner at Dachau
Finding the center of Paris
Typical Parisian Demonstration
Windows and Windowboxes

The street musicians in Paris are generally high caliber, especially a string octet I saw in a train station. There was also an accordion player that excelled. An accordion duo rode the subways, thoughtfully moving one door down in the car every station or so, so that we would all have the opportunity to give money.

On occasion I have noticed rude Parisians, but they have all been the wackos that every large city has. Everyone else I have come across, be they dancers I'm drinking with, or strangers in the street, have been warm and welcoming. The overall politeness here is a very refreshing contrast to the hustle and bustle.

Parting thoughts I don't have room to go into detail on:

  • Being wedged so tight into a subway while wearing my full pack, that some locals smirked at my success in allowing the door to slide closed right next to me.
  • The Egyptian that came up to me after realizing I was an visiting American, to make sure I knew about the American Church, and had the resources I needed to get by.
  • Blocks of black iron balconies back lit by windows reflecting the sunset.
  • Riding in Valerie's car, trying to discern the traffic patterns.
  • Pre and Post-op Transsexual hookers, lining the streets of some neighborhood. The prostitutes are so flagrant here (some had their tops down) that I had to clarify that is was still illegal here. Traveling is about learning about different things, after all...

    And what better thought to leave you on?
    Au revoir,