Friday, August 03, 2007

A Month In Paris - It Begins

Here we are again, the three ladies. My mom, her sister and me! This time, it's Paris.

My mom and aunt (forthwith collectively referred to as "Les Mesdames") have never met Chris but they've taken very strongly to him. They're like middle-aged lady detectives, as they've gleaned a lot about his personality from very minute details. For example, they love his tidy apartment and that it's filled with books and old records (this morning we got ready to Dionne Warwick and yes, there was dancing). They love that he obviously cooks (from the bits of garlic and a neatly wrapped half-lemon in the itty bitty fridge) and they joke that they miss him. I think they want to adopt him. Chris has a way with moms, apparently, even halfway around the world.

Before he jetted off for a month-long visit to the U.S., he took me out for a neighbourhood tour even though I was half-crazy with jetlag. He got me a membership for Velib (I LOVE these bikes!), but it only lasts for the week. He's left me his own bike which I can ride as much as I want but I need to figure out a way to extend my Velib membership (you need a bank card with a little chip, like the French have, to get through the automated system). We rode bikes through his neighbourhood in the 19th (les Buttes Chaumont - gorgeous) through Jaures and le Goutte d'Or back to Nadia's, which is right by Sacre Coeur. We had a chat over some Indian food and then we split, to go our separate ways...wish I had a friend here in Paris!

Here's a bit more on what I think of the Velib situation, plus an explanatory preamble. Velib (velo + liberte) is this new system of bikes that are placed all around the city. They're a great ride and they're mostly outside of metro stations (but not always). You get your bank card through the system (so there's a deposit in case of damage) and then you can ride them whenever and wherever you want! If you ride it for 30 mins or less, it's free. After that, it's like a euro or something, I've forgotten. I always try to ride it for 30 mins to my next destination and return it but ha! That's often a problem. First of all, I often circle just trying to find a Velib station. When you want a bike, sometimes the station is completely empty, and when you want to return it, they're full! This has happened to me two days in a row. I've learned that it's best to just sit tight and wait because it's never more than 5 or 10 minutes before the next person comes to take one out. I learned that lesson the hard way. So, to make a long story short, it's great for noodling around but if you have a destination and a fixed time, it can be tough because you could spend more than half an hour just trying to park the thing (like I did yesterday). Still, when wandering a city and getting lost (I went to Colette today and I swear, just like every time, I wound up at a sad looking children's shop on the other side of the city - why? I need to have Parisian addresses explained to me!) it feels way better to do it on a bike than by foot.


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