Saturday, April 15, 2006

Saints and Fleas

For the record: Another cloudy day, but we have been fortunate that it hasn't really rained yet. A slight drizzle now and then, just to put a sparkle on the streets. It didn't really occur to us that it is Easter tomorrow, and the reason Notre Dame was packed yesterday was Good Friday observance. Em answers almost every preferential question we ask her with "I don't know.", which we think is her way of saying "I don't want to inconvenience you." We are going to work at helping her verbalize her desires.

Saturday, April 15, 2006, Hotel International, Paris, FR 9:30 am.

So we are still trying to wake up Emily who said to us:“I’m just letting them (my eyes) close so they can open.” She is too funny sometimes. I'm trying not to sound like a father by saying something like: "Get up, you're in Paris. You can sleep in Massachusetts.". (My guess if I had asked her "Do you want to sleep til tomorrow?" I would not have gotten an "I don't know.")

Today we made a tactical decision not to bring our umbrellas; poor Kat carries them (plus whatever Em and I can get her to carry for us) in her backpack. She never complains but it gets heavy after a while, and it never did rain. Little did we know that the very act of carrying those umbrellas is what has kept the rain from coming.

The first thing we did was to take the metro to the marche aux puces in the northern part of Paris. A lot of people selling a lot of junk. T-shirts, leather jackets, cheap new imported stuff they buy for 5 cents and try to sell for 2 euros. We didn’t stay long but it was fun to see, and smell with the air scented with so many different aromas.

Our little sandwich system is working well. (We figured the flea market would be a good test.) Whenever Em feels a little threatened or uncomfortable in crowds or wherever she says “sandwich” and we make sure she is between us. Cute.

From there it is a simple metro to St. Sulpice in the St. Germain district. We walked past the cool fountain out front and decided we were hungrier for food than redemption, so off we went to search out lunch. What we found was a little café, Café Petula, where we had the best meal of our trip so far. Em had a burger (with frites), Kat a croque-rustic and I had a perfectly prepared tuna steak in rosemary infused olive oil over rice. Superb.

We did our regular (by now) souvenir shopping (Em glows with contentment in these souvenir shops) and headed back to St. Sulpice. A dark old church made famous by the book "The DaVinci Code" where embedded in the floor is the “rose line.” This brass strip passes vertically through an obelisk. An explanatory note was pinned to a board explaining that contrary to some current fiction the brass line was installed for the Paris Observatory and the P&S on the stained glass windows were for Peter and Sulpice (the patron saints of the church) not for the Priory of Sion. Pretty funny. I got a couple of dark pictures in a dark church.

We walked toward St. Severin (past the Museum of Moyen Ages that we really want to go into but really "booooring" for a 14 year old, so we postponed til next trip), and more souvenirs, then took a leisurely stroll across the bridges to get our daily ice cream fix. We saw “our" waitress from next door at the silver lily, and chatted up some people behind us in line who were from Falls Church, Virginia, a neighboring town when we lived in Centreville. It was not as crowded out today as it has been, probably because it was dreary, and we had a nice relaxing walk. We made our way back to Cite and stopped on the bridge to Ile St. Louis to listen to a guy who was playing a little piano. Em gave him a tip. As timid as she has been it was good to see her break away a little. Pretty cool.

Past Notre Dame again to Sainte-Chapelle (Holy Chapel). The line didn’t seem too long, so Kat said let’s just stand in it and see how fast it moves. Not fast but it was more than worth it. What a sight. A beautiful stained glass chapel on two floors (bunk beds) that takes your breath away when you enter it. You get the same sort of feeling as entering the Sistine chapel for the first time. We are all so glad that we waited. It was approaching closing time, and for a bit at the end we had the chapel almost to ourselves. Very enjoyable.

We have been by this chapel many times, and from the outside (left) you would never imagine that splendor on the inside (right). Even with the grey day outside, the stained glass was magnificent. It was erected by king Louis IX to house the Crown of Thorns and a fragment of the True Cross.

We asked Em if she could get us back to the hotel and we would simply follow her. She was to make all the decisions. She was sure she could. In fact, while at the Cite metro stop she helped a couple of English women who were trying to figure out how to get around. We are so proud of her. I tried to help an oriental girl with the system but she took off like a rocket and jumped on the first car that stopped. So Em led us back, right to the door of our hotel without any help from us. She has learned a lot, and picks things up quickly.

What about dinner? Our Emily doesn’t want to go out anywhere (she’s had it today) and doesn’t want to stay in the hotel by herself while we go out. What to do? We all walked down to see our friendly lady at the 8 a Huit and bought a picnic and had it in our room. Beer and cheese and yogurt and chips. And family. Try to beat that. To bed about 10:30 after thumb wrestling and arm wrestling – clearly Em was comfortable and more than just a little feisty. She will be able to beat me pretty soon.

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