Marja-Leena Rathje
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a year ago, May 14th


I ran out of time and steam to write much about the last week of our Europe trip a year ago, and since I'm rereading my paper travel diary almost daily, I thought I'd put in a few snippets from it to fill in the gaps, when I get the chance.

We said tearful goodbyes to our family in London after a lovely two and half week stay with them. We were picked up by a taxi service and taken to St. Pancras station which was very nice, like an airport with efficient and friendly service. Way too early as we were, we wandered about then sat down for coffee at a well-known American chain and enjoyed a truly piping hot cuppa with full cream, something that seemed rare in most places in England.

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a view from the train still in the UK

The Eurostar train was very pleasant, smooth-riding and fast, offering nice glimpses of the English countryside, and even another 'white horse' on a hillside, and a few tunnels along the way. We did not even realize when we were in France (I'd briefly dozed while husband was reading) until I noticed an IKEA Maison and the highways with drivers on the 'right' side! The countryside did not look that different.

Gare du Nord station in Paris was not as nice as St. Pancras for parts of it were under reconstruction. It was very busy there while we waited anxiously for our driver who was late to pick us up and take us to the apartment that we'd rented for the week. He did arrive and was most apologetic due to the rush hour. First impressions from the back of the car were of polite drivers but many aggressive motorcyclists, including women, and regular cyclists on bicycle paths that were part of wide sidewalks rather than the busy road. People seemed very relaxed even in the rush hour.

We picked up our keys and were then driven down a very narrow lane, more of a pedestrian lane, to our building in Le Marais district close to the Seine River. The elevator was not working so we had quite a trek up the winding stairs with luggage up to the third floor, thanks to the help of the driver. The apartment, as we expected, was modest but clean and facing an inner courtyard so fairly quiet. Lovely big bed after that narrow hideway at daughter's and a real shower in the bathroom!

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our street in Le Marais

After relaxing for a while we went out to explore the area. Two small supermarkets below us and a health food store around the corner, many cafes and patisseries around. Hôtel de Ville (city hall) on a big square with a carousel and fountains, beyond the river and a bridge to Île de la Cité. Lots of people out enjoying the evening. Nice. A light supper at a nearby cafe before we wandered back "home".

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Hôtel de Ville square at dusk

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the fountains by Hôtel de Ville square

Wow. We are really in Paris!

Marja-Leena | 14/05/2010 | 8 comments
themes: Travel


8 comments

It's wonderful to read more about that lovely trip and to see the photographs as well. Sometimes I wonder if the culture apparent in European cities may be the epitome of what we're able to reach. I'd love to see us take it higher but danger of our own (not yours or mine or that of other kind and sensible people) devising looms over everything worthwhile done in the course of millenia. I hope the beauty you've experienced lasts a long, long time.

Susan, I'm pleased you are reading, as this is kind of my belated diary of the trip, a nicer way to preserve the memories and photos compared to my brief scribbled notes.

You make some very interesting and valid points. Europe seems to have preserved more of the old, which is what attracts me, while Canada especially in the west like Vancouver is so young and modern and forgets to keep even its short history. Whether our 'modern' culture is better, I don't know, but if we do have some kind of human caused catastrophe to the environment (and we are on that path already, I think) it seems that it won't matter. Enjoy it while we can.

I was on that very street last year and walked past that very sign. I'm very homesick for Europe again and your pix and narrative are not helping my condition!

I knew someone who tried to book a double room and breakfast at the Hotel De Ville in Rouen.

I still chuckle at the memory because it could so easily have been me!

But wait!
The street in Le Marais looks very familiar
I think I may have stayed in a hotel there once
Was it near a restaurant called L'Havana?

Hattie, I'm missing Europe too!

Julie, I might have done the same if I'd not done my research! Strange how 'hotel' changed it's meaning in English and other languages. Le Marais seems well known to many who've been to Paris. Quite a few streets in this area look alike, as I recall, and sorry I don't remember a restaurant by that name. A week there was a mere taste, I want to go back!

Many of my friends have been to the City of Light. I have to be honest and say that Paris has never been on my list of the top 10 places I would like to visit someday; however, it is a city in which I would like to live for a year, a full turn of the seasons.

R, why not do it?!!

In my art student days I used to daydream about living in Paris - original, eh? I think it would be fun even today, but I'd miss my home and garden now.