I've arrived safely in Paris and am installed at the Elysa Luxembourg Hotel in the 5th Arrondissement (aka The Latin Quarter), near the Sorbonne university. All the sticky parts of my multi-mode travel today (boat-plane-train) went amazingly smoothly and left me with the illusion that I really know what I'm doing after all these years of travelling.
The flight from Venice to Paris was short (about an hour) and a lot of it was taken up by the poor flight attendants having to repeat every one of those standard take-off, in-flight, and landing announcements four times: in French, Italian, Spanish, and English. And flawlessly, too. You have to marvel at it.
After checking in and unpacking, I went right over to my favorite nearby place, Cafe Soufflot. This is a nice, genuine French cafe, that caters to college kids, their professors, other locals, and tourists alike. The manager, Serge, was wearing one of his standard outrageous dress shirt and matching tie combos (mauve today), and greeted me warmly after taking a moment to place me. The wine, cheese (the stinkier, the better), and bread soon came forth, to my hungry delight. I found myself switching pretty easily into French and getting with the flow of the conversation, which always makes me feel pretty good. A very pleasant early evening, indeed.
Although, after a while I made the mistake of asking Serge what he thought of France's new President, Francois Hollande. This brought forth a torrent of French, of which I was only able to catch every fourth word or so, but the general tone conveyed the negative gist. Serge: not a fan. What was I thinking?! Everyone knows that, in France, you never mix cheese and politics.
My plans for the next three days are up in the air now. My Parisian friends, Phil and Marti Demetrion, are on their own U.S. tour right now and so I will not see them this trip. In addition, the forecast is for a lot of rain, which is at odds with my plans, which usually involve a lot of walking. Well, we see what tomorrow brings. In the meantime, a tout alors my friends.