Sunday, March 26, 2017

coffee and tea and a final cafe creme

My last day in Warsaw. In many ways it is the most normal of all days here. I do routine things that would keep me busy if I lived here year round. And it begins, predictably, with a lovely and relaxed breakfast...


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And I finish tidying the apartment after last night's merrymaking. Normal stuff.

And in between, I meet up with friends.

It's a blustery day, but at least in the morning, there are hints of sunshine. Another friend from university days suggests we have coffee in a place some of us frequented when we were students. (It's called Telimena and it claims to be the oldest cafe in Warsaw, tracing its origins to the 18 century.) It's a lovely walk to it, but I hurry. Up late at night, up early in the morning -- it's tempting to slow down the pace today, but I cannot do that. Not on my last day here.


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My sister joins us for the meet up. Boundaries of friendship are loose around the edges. She is always made welcome by all my friends.


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Inevitably we step into a review of the political situation in Poland (and, too, in the U.S., but they know about the U.S. in great detail and I know about Poland in less detail, so we concentrate on what's happening in my country of birth). 

Poland, of course, is a younger democracy and you could argue that not everyone there has learned the lessons of how fragile the enterprise may become if you hammer away at the institutions that secure its enduring position in our way of life. But you could also say that those who have lived in post war Poland are especially stunned and disappointed that so much can be tarnished so quickly. Ocean isn't a good place to take up this topic in all its complexity, but I must mention it because all my friends are concerned and preoccupied with it and with good reason.

Back at the apartment I conclude I need yet another coffee. This will be my third! At the farmette, I never need coffee, I just like it. But toward the end of this trip, I'm thinking it's coffee, or a long nap and I don't have time for the latter.


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In the later afternoon, my nephew -- one I haven't seen for many years  -- stops by the apartment. He lives away from Warsaw and we do not usually overlap in our visits here but this time we do.

I refrain from having yet another cup of coffee then (hey -- they're espresso cups! Tiny!).


And now it's evening, but I have one more meeting -- with my enduring friend who has woven herself into this week fluidly, patiently, with the dedication that only the most solid of friends can display.

We go just down the block and since I have such an early flight the next day, I dare not have YET ANOTHER cup of coffee and so I switch to herbal tea. We split a cheesecake and an apple cake -- the quintessentially Polish desserts --  and they are both so not good (one is half frozen, the other is warmed unevenly in the microwave), that we have to laugh. What a way to end a delicious week!


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And now I've said my good byes. Damn, that's tough. Two worlds: my beloved family and Ed, and these guys. And if you add a third -- my law school friends, also scattered up and down the continent -- well, where is the fairness?  The world is too vast!

I hate to toss the flowers that were such a beautiful addition to my time in Warsaw, but there is no choice. Goodbye sweet bouquets!


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At 4:30, which is really 3:30 here, because of course, Europe HAS to take this weekend to institute daylight savings time, I go downstairs and find my cab waiting for me. (I was terrified that my alarm clock, which happens to be my iPhone, would not make the switch to daylight savings promptly enough and so I asked Ed to call me. He slept through his own alarm. Oh, Ed!)


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And so that's it for the trip, right? Good bye Warsaw, hello Wisconsin!


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Not necessarily.

On a last minute impulse, I check my bag through and so I have no hand luggage other than my small back pack. My Warsaw to Paris flight arrives in good time and the weather here, in France is lovely! A six hour layover... Dare I?

I do hesitate. I'm tired. Even I do not feel peppy when I've slept all of two hours. The thought of that train ride to central Paris, especially if I miss the express and am stuck with the local, is tediously dully. Both ways? For what?

For this!


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(To give me credit, I do alight at a different exit of the Luxembourg station and I enter the Gardens at a different gate. I am not in a Gardens rut, I am not!)

(Well, maybe I am. I mean, the chestnuts!)


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Parisians take a while to rouse themselves on a Sunday morning and today, that hour deprivation after the time change slows things down even more. It's not quite 10 and the park begins to fill with joggers who run the perimeter of the fence, but few others are out and about.


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(On the street again -- a selfie in a mirror.)


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I want a light breakfast. An image of eating out on the sidewalk keeps flashing through my mind. But where? You think that's a really dumb problem, don't you? But hey, it's a last croissant, and though the weather is still a tad chilly (getting close to 50F or 10C), it's good enough to sit outside and watch the world go by! But where?

I wander around, determined not to sit down until I spot a croissant on someone's plate that meets my requirements of fresh and honest (and fluffy and long). Finally! On the Boulevard Saint  Germain. In sunshine. With a very satisfying cafe creme.


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(I'm not the only one who is hunting down a morning coffee and sunshine...)


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And now I turn away from this neighborhood and head toward the river. Yeah, that one. For the crazy dreamers! Head straight, then turn left.


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Cross it to the island, amble through the bird and flower market, cross it further toward the right bank... What a gorgeous day!


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My final destination is Les Halles -- the old market place on the right bank that had turned into an awful shopping mall, but after a multi year renovation, has been utterly transformed into a thing of great beauty: very modern and luminescent. Here's the entrance to the east.


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Dipping toward the entrance to the west...


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It's really quite beautiful and very empty on a Sunday morning.

But it's getting close to noon and my flight is just after three. Time to pick up the train and head for the airport.

After the usual passport and security crunch at this very major airport, I'm finally at the proper terminal. Finally. And here I have a small tucked away surprise: there is a very tiny airport museum in this section of the airport (2EM) and this spring it is hosting an exhibit of Picasso art. It's not a large exhibit, but oh my gosh, four beautiful canvases, some ceramic pieces, a good text and of course, it's all completely empty. I mean, who thinks to look for Picasso at CDG airport?


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It seems wrong to end this post with Picasso at CDG, so I wont. Instead, I'll roll us back to the Luxembourg Gardens. You've seen this guy many times (including just a few days back), but I think he best shows off the mood of the season. Flowers are blooming, spring is with us. Dance!


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And now to Detroit, where I have another set of hours of waiting (this really was possibly the most onerous return!). No matter: I'll be in Madison soon and Ed will be waiting and we'll drive home together to the farmette, where I expect to find at least a few crocuses in full bloom. 

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