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Sun & Arc de Triumph

September 27, 2006

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It was a glorious sunny day in Paris and that made us so happy as we were afraid maybe the weather was starting to turn. I remember so many dark, dreary ,rainy, cold days when I lived in Europe and know this time of year can be tricky. So we are very grateful we have lucked out with more sunshine. When it is like this it is hard to leave Paris.

We got another one of our famous late starts which was made even worse by some delay at the bus stop. While DaVinci waited, waited and waited at the bus stop and chatted with some folks from Australia, Mozart got to play at the small playground behind it with the distant view of the Eiffel tower. We all finally decided to head thru the park a ways and catch the bus at a different spot after waiting more than an hour.

The Arc de Triumph is fairly close to where we are staying so it was a quick ride on the metro after our short bus ride from the camp. We had planned on seeing it the day before after looking for Madeline’s house, but it was not clear skies so we thought we would catch it another time.

I said on a comfortable bench with a great view of it and the entertaining traffic going around it ,while Mozart and DaVinci made their way to the top on the endless circular stairway for a spectacular view of Paris. Mozart loves the adventure & physicality of the climb and  enjoys the views and it gives DaVinci a chance to see a view he has not bothered to see until now. They both found it awe-inspiring.

Meanwhile I relished the sunshine and good conversation with a captivating woman from Buenos Aires who loves Paris and decided my bench was the perfect spot for a picnic lunch. Before she came,the second person of the day mistook me for a Parisian and asked me directions in French. He and his girlfriend turned out to be from Scotland and were quite stunned that I was American ,which becomes quite obvious as soon as I open my mouth. Earlier when I tried to cross the busy street into the park to join Mozart and DaVinci already on the other side, a car pulled over and a Frenchman somehow mistook me for a Parisian who knew what they were doing instead of a clueless Yank who was wondering how I would ever get across the street without a light. Maybe it was the sunglasses and all black, but I am flabbergasted that anyone would mistake me for a Parisian who knew her way around.

It is hard to tell these days who is who and where they are from. There have been a couple of families that I could have sworn were Americans with their blue jeans, typical Macy or Mervyn type clothes and blue jeans, only to hear them talk to each other in perfect native Italian and French. The latter family kept fooling the hustlers at the Eiffel tower too as they approached them in English and they all responded back in perfect French. It is fun when you have time to observe,just to wonder  what nationality different people are. There was an Asian girl sitting next to me once, who picked up a phone and started rattling on in perfect Italian. We have not run into too  many Americans or even native English speakers so far.

We have run into many more French who are willing to speak English and that has been a surprise. I still remember my first trip to Paris over thirty years ago where no one spoke English and even if they did,
you would never get the benefit of hearing it. Now that seems completely different as everywhere we
go ,people seem willing to speak some English and usually they initiate it after we stumble with our
French. The people have been wonderfully friendly and helpful. Later this day, several people help us with directions including a taxi driver who gets out of his taxi and walks a distance to show us and speaks to us
in English even tho it is clearly an effort for him. It still is a great benefit to speak French of course as it is limiting not to,but even the woman from Buenos Aires said she actually speaks more English in Paris than Spanish or French, tho she understands French perfectly.

We sashayed down the Champs Elysee after our Arc tour and did some window shopping and people watching along the way. We were headed to the Hippopotamus which is a family friendly eating spot with a French flair that one of our books recommended for kids. The problem is they had the wrong address, so we went up and down and all around trying to find it, but finally did and Mozart loved it starting with the crayons and puzzles they had. Eating and shopping are two of her favorite sports and a place with soda and good desserts will always get high marks. (So far there seems to be no lemonade in Europe, one gets some kind of 7up type soda when you ask for lemonade.) But even we enjoyed our steaks and fries ,onion soup and creme brulee’s and red wine as we watched the people go by.

We decided to head home so we could get to bed earlier so we could try to get earlier starts to our day plus my blisters on my feet were killing me. Now I have a bunch of blisters on my toes and DaVinci is upset that we spent a fortune on SAS shoes and here we are dealing with blisters. He also has SAS shoes and has not had a problem nor as Mozart. I am so glad that I brought along my favorite berkies as I am getting lots of use out of them as they help when my feet are recovering from wearing the SAS shoes (with orthotics). We love our smart wool socks as well but they did not save me from the blisters either (tho perhaps things would be worse without these things) so luckily I brought mole skin for blisters.

One of the most fun parts of the day is when Mozart and I took a shower when we got back. She has been singing “How ya gonna keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree” lots lately as she gets the humor and likes the tune. It is an oldie but goodie my mom use to sing, but I only know that one refrain ,so we sing that over and over and Mozart makes up added parts as life is a musical to this kid and she is always putting on shows. We have also been singing lots of that Adams family theme and the famous finger snaps that go with it and there is a funny version of the twelve days of xmas about a trip that she got one of her books that she loves, not to mention that “I like to move it, move it” refrain that is from some kids movie.

No one was in the shower house but us and the water was hot and felt good ,so we danced and sang, used our little luffah like Japanese very long wash cloth to do our backs while wiggling our hips and played our bottoms like bongo drums and all kinds of silliness under the inviting warm water. Ahh, these are the moments that make the family memories and add to the joy of life. One of the bathrooms is heated here, but we did not need it.

Thanks to the person on bootsnall who recommended this great wash cloth. It is perfect for traveling because it dries super fast and it really feels great and invigorating as it exfoliates the skin and allows one to scrub ones back easily. I will leave a link here when I get more internet access, but they are only about three bucks and are one of those things I am so happy I got.

After we finished the shower Mozart played some piano (which I always enjoy listening too) and we all read some and headed to bed early. I forgot to mention the taxi ride home which cost almost as much from our close metro stop in rush hour traffic as it did from the Eiffel Tower the first night. We still did not find the way out of the metro correctly, so succumbed to a taxi (which Mozart loves) which found us before we found the bus.

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