Bon Jour!

It is my second week in Paris, and I'm glad I have allowed myself all this time, because the city deserves every minute of it. I have been joined by Ben Ignacio, fellow Seattle swinger (and 'retiree') and the two of us are touring hard.

My gracious hostess from last week, Valerie, found us a reasonably priced hotel. It's generic, soulless and filled with senior citizens with tour busses, but it is clean. Notice I did not say safe. Ben and I had our bags rifled by the housekeeping staff. Nothing was stolen (since we had all our cameras and money on us), but my zipper was broken and they had access to my bank card numbers. You know those commercials where the bank fixes emergencies like this in a five minute phone call? Those are false. After 45 minutes calling Bank of America and talking to pinheads working from scripts, I had things mostly in order. Some follow up calls have nailed things down, but I was very frazzled. Getting the hotel to help in any way was like pulling teeth - the one time I have experienced stereotypical French behavior. My main fear, the police report, was painless. On a national holiday, with only one officer on duty, we were through the line and back on the street in just under an hour. He treated us with good humor and concern, though we were just another form to him, I'm sure. I have no idea what the statement I signed says, but French is such a beautiful language, who cares?

Broken Zipper
Just enough damage
to render it useless!
Crime Scene
Scene of the crime
Outside the Police Station
At the Police Station

I now am without my bank cards for a few weeks, but since Ben was not in the same boat, he has been kind enough to loan me money. He assures me that a 200% interest rate is competitive in the US these days. I guess I have to take his word for it. I hadn't realized contracts were still signed in blood, either.

This happened on the one day there was a chance to Lindy Hop here, so that got scratched, but after a fantastic dinner involving a bottle of wine and huge desserts, we are again in good moods and seeing sights.

The Louvre was overwhelming, and not really my favorite stuff to begin with, but I can say I survived. The Orsay was incredible. This is the Impressionist works housed in a fantastically renovated train station. We were in a state of bliss. We have also visited several fantastic, fun sculpture gardens. After all the classical art in the Mediterranean, it's so nice to have such playful whimsical art. A favorite was a huge (10 feet long, perhaps) realistic sculpture of a baby crawling, with a real toddler placed underneath so Mom (and I) could take pictures.

Public Art
Public Art
Where's Gavin?
Musee D'Orsay:
Where's Gavin?
Big Baby
Big Baby

It stays light here past 10:00, so we took a late walk at dusk. The city truly is beautiful at night. Boats on the Seine glide by with huge searchlights pointed at the land for tour groups to "see" Paris at night. Somehow, I think some of the beauty is diminished... Is this what they mean by the "City of Light"?

The subways are my lifeline (I've only had people throw up next to me twice, which I gather is a good average). However, the taxis are so reasonable, that we have taken them a couple times. It's nice to get a feel for the lay of the land, which the subway completely shields you from. And the best part: the drivers REFUSE tips! Yes, I am talking about taxis here!!!

Most of this email is about my little True Crime adventure, and it certainly killed a day, but the majority of the week has been filled with sights and sounds so great and numerous, there is no way to remember them all. Examples:

Ex Prisoner at Dachau
1) seeing the Eiffel Tower (Ben won't let me call it 'the Needle') light up at night from our hotel window. At the top of the hour all the lights madly sparkle for ten minutes.

A Rose Lover
A Rose Lover
2) the roses here are huge and robust. The Parisians don't seem to favor the delicate varieties, but rather have beds full of big, bold plants, covered with buds.

Parisian Metro Station

3) Art Nouveau architecture. The playful touches are everywhere, a classic example being the many subway entrances with lights that look like red flower buds.

Odeon Tanz Orchester
4) Parks, parks, parks!

Parisian Fountain
5) Fountains, fountains, fountains!

We still have a few days here before we Chunnel to London, and I look forward to seeing more. The people here are incredible. They are warm, and often very humorous when it comes to the language barrier. It is a joy to be here.

Au revoir,