Week 4, part 3

One of the icons of Paris, the Arc de Triumphe

Our hotel in Paris was less than a block from Place Franz Liszt, which was along Rue Lafayette.

The train for Paris left at 11:10, so we were able to slack a little. We were about to use our first travel day on our EuroPass, which entitled us to access to first class cars (People our age are only allowed to buy first class Eurail passes, the second class passes are for the 26 and under crowd). We found a first class non-smoking coach car (all-l-l-l the way to the other end of the platform) and got on. We quickly cruised into countryside populated by the usual mixture of cows and sheep (Jean-Claude had told us that Normandie is a major dairy region), with a rare stop along the way. We got into the Paris St. Lazare station on schedule at around two-ish.

We learned how to work the coin-operated toilet turnstyles: you give the attendant some coins, and she will operate the turnstyle. It took us a while, but we found out that to find a room we had to go to the TI on Champs d'Elysees. We were given a small slip of paper with the address to the place, and directions of how to get there on the Metro. So we headed for the Metro to learn about mass transit Paris style.

Don't go into the Metro system without a butt-load of French coins in your pocket. Because lurking in the tunnels under the city are some of the finest buskers we have encountered so far on this oddyzee. We saw solo classical violinists and we saw a string quintet. All of the music we saw in the metro (and it was all in the transfer tunnels, not on the noisy platforms) was very good. Some of them carry various forms of portable sound systems for playing pre-recorded accompaniment. There was a three-piece brass band playing to pre-recorded piano and percussion. A clarinet player carried the rest of his "klezmer band in a box" on and off the train with him as he continued to play. We saw official-looking tags hanging from the members of one group, so we suspect there may be a review/permit process involved with playing in the Metro. At any rate, these hard-working professional musicians deserve to get some change thrown into their instrument cases, because the quality of their music is on a par with what we pay dearly for.

We easily found the TI, which was literally in the shadow of the Arc de Triumphe (sp?). They set us up with a cheap hotel room for FF236 (just under $40) on Rue de les Petite Hotels (Street of the Little Hotels). We left the TI with a map of our neighborhood and directions to our hotel via Metro and walking. For our next order of business, we were directed to a department store at the corner. Rather than have our bags checked, Obbie waited with them at the door while RoZ went inside. Here he had an interesting chat with the very polite multi-lingual Afro-Frenchman minding the door.

He was allowed to find out that we were Americans, and the subject of WTC and such came up. He asked why we had come to Europe, and Obbie said that we came to learn more about the rest of the world. "And what have you learned?" said the good door-man. That everywhere you go - and it seems to be true of any time in history - that ordinary people don't trust the government. Whether they have kings, presidents, or prime ministers, the ruled never trust the rulers. This observation drew a smile from the door-man, and it killed just enough time before RoZ's return.

After some more time in crowded people-cans speeding through tunnels under the city, we found our way to Place Franz List and Rue de les Petit Hotels. We were on the top floor of a one-star hotel facing the street. It wasn't bad at all once we overlooked a light we couldn't get to work, the lack of usable electrical outlets, and some peeling wallpaper. The best thing was that it was a 10-minute walk to the Gare L'Est, from which we would leave town the next day.

Some specimins of the detailed sculpture work on the Arc de Triumphe.

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