Wednesday, July 6, 2011

5. Ammonia attack and Stroll the River Seine

WHEW!!! The little refrigerator in our room blew its compressor while we were out, filling our room with the strongest ammonia smell I ever smelt/tasted: couldn't breathe! Opened the outside windows, inside door, got a huge breeze going, and still the room stunk, stomachs queased, and our eyes burned. My new best Sri Lankan friend Battia came to the rescue. He works for the hotel, came and sprayed mint smelling stuff all over, then invited Lynn and me down for a drink with him while the room aired out. That was a slice of unreality!...we kind of learned about years of Tamil terrorism, the new political order in Sri Lanka, Battia's mom's health, and "why are Americans so nice but their government is so mean?" during his rambling musings. He loved that Lynn spoke French so well, so they ended the session with some conversation I didn't understand. Seemed pretty nice, tho.

We resolved to walk down to the River Seine from our Hotel, about 12 blocks, to check out the bridges and maybe walk along the quais on the bank. We left at about 7:30 pm, and took some unplanned detours which went through the neighborhood of Les Halls (a lower-end shopping mall area frequented by young people and students). Wow, what a blast! The whole neighborhood around Les Halls is converted to "no vehicles", so there were blocks and blocks of pedestrian-only streets with every kind of food and shop along the way, jammed with people 30 years younger than us! We found a place to get a handmade "Crepe Fromage et Jambon" (ham and cheese crepe), so sat down for an early street food supper, and people-watched for awhile. Then walking again, til we found a never-before suspected tower in a hidden park, which was pleasant to the max...people were sitting around on the ground with picnics of wine, cheese, etc. Then, onward to the Seine!

Our street, Boulevard de Sebastopol, meets the Seine at Pont du Change (pont means bridge), which is the most boring bridge of the bunch. So we headed up toward the Eiffel Tower, walking the Right Bank, past Pont Neuf at the tip of the island "Il Cite", then Pont des Arts (all wrought iron and wood surface, with thousands of lovers' padlocks on the pedestrian fencing), Pont du Carrousel at the Louvre Museum, and Pont Royal at the Tullieries Gardens. Walked along the quai right down at river level for awhile...lots of interesting characters partying and enjoying the ambiance down there, but you really have to get used to the smell of pee everywhere! Hey, they're all drinking lots of wine and beer, it;s gotta go somewhere, right? And there's no restrooms... Anyhow, we went back topside to the sidewalk, and met a young couple from Jacksonville who were married at The Breakers in Palm Beach. He and I were the only guys in Paris wearing a blue polo shirt, we looked like team members! Lynn and I detoured through the Tullieries, watched the sun coming down through the trees (at about 9:30 p.m.!), then headed toward the Louvre Arc de Triomphe du Carousel...we'd never seen it from this angle before, and definitely not at sunset. The light and setting were spectacular, cause the courtyard of the Louvre also contains the glass pyramids we have only seen in harsh midday light before this. Spectacular sight, even with so many other people present!

The walk wouldn't be complete without desert, so we headed back to the Seine and looked for a sidewalk creperie...with success once we turned onto Boulevard de Sebastopol. Lynn ordered us a couple crepes nutella, we sat and enjoyed em after I watched the guy cook the crepes on the special grill (I love to watch em spread the batter around and flip them over...takes some skill!). It finally got dark about 10:30 p.m. while we ate! Made it back to the hotel, and will rest up for tomorrow.

PIC captions:  Lynn with street supper: crepe ham and cheese.
                       Lynn and John at the Seine.
                       John at Louvre, Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, as sun sets.                      
CLICK here for all photos and vids:
2011 Dinan and Paris French Adventure

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