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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Paris, June 28

I went to the Champ de Mars for my morning Internet connection. For Shannon and others who are wondering about this free wi-fi in parks, there's a Google map with all the locations, also information from the Paris Mairie (city government); the wi-fi is also in libraries and some other places. For large parks like the Champ de Mars, they show what part of the park has wi-fi; there are also some signs in the park. My e-mail had an invitation from another Slow Traveler designated as a Hero, Americana in Parigi, inviting me to get together for coffee "tomorrow morning." I thought o.k., Tuesday, fine. A bit later I realized that the e-mail was dated Sunday, and she meant this morning. In the moment's thought I agreed to it, and on the iPod Touch I took a snapshot of the part of her message with her phone numbers. I also programmed walking directions into Google Maps, my experience saying that they would show even when I was out of wi-fi.

I made my first use of my new international cell phone to try to call her and confirm that I was doing this, but I had trouble getting through. I started walking, as it was my first decision to do, but as I got away from my starting point, the map showed the shape of my walking route, but not the streets. I saw that I didn't have the address of our meeting point. When I turned the phone off and back on, my attempts to call got a little further, but still didn't get through. I saw that time was passing; the part of the message that I saved at least had one metro stop. I'd gotten to Champs-Elysees-Clemenceau, and decided to take the metro to one stop she suggested, and see if I could remember the meeting place from the Plan de Quartier (neighborhood map) in the station.

Yes, it took some looking, but the Passage des Panoramas, an arcade off the street, was right, and I got there 20 minutes late. It was great to meet her, but I was so harried that I may have been especially not interesting.

From there I went to the Sainte Chapelle by walking. It is in the middle of the Palais de Justice or Court House, and requires a security check. AinP had mentioned that could take the entrance for court visitors and get through security faster; in fact there was a special line for museum pass holders, and people with court business could cut in front of the tourists. It was a case where all wallets and belts needed to be removed; mine went together and it took some time. I don't think I'd been to the Sainte Chapelle since I was seven; it was there that I first learned church visiting etiquette. The chapel is important for its stained-glass windows.

I had thoughts of getting a crepe from a stand, but I was enticed to have one sitting down at a cafe. I ordered a flaming one, and it all took time from sitting down, getting the waiter's attention, to getting the bill and paying it; one should generally allow time for a leisurely lunch.

Next I went to the Louvre. One might generally think that many people devote their day to it and enter in the morning, and it may not be so crowded in the afternoon. Entering at 3 p.m., it was still very crowded. I did a basic look at the Italian and French galleries. With the Museum Pass, I can go back without it being such a big deal. I thought I'd heard of an alternate entrance for pass holders. There were none in evidence on the south wing, so I entered through the main pyramid entrance. At the end, I exited through the Porte des Lions, at the very far end of the south, past the Pont du Carrousel. That entrance also sells tickts.

I walked back to my hotel. I made an ATM withdrawal, learning that the card is entered with the start of the number in, the Visa logo out. For dinner, as sometimes happens, I started towards one place and wound up in another, the Bistrot Saint-Dominique. I had fried mozzarella and a steak. I saw the Palais de Chaillot viewing of Brazil-Chile.

Rain during the night; I think it's cleared but I'm posting this in the morning from the hotel lobby.

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