Thursday, December 15, 2016

Thursday travels

If I break my return trip to the States with a stopover in Paris, everything becomes much simpler. I can catch the 12:55 flight out of Warsaw. That means I can have a leisurely breakfast, like this:

Warsaw then Paris-1.jpg

... and take the time to set things in the apartment exactly right, down to smoothing out the last wrinkle on the bead spread and pulling down the shades just so. Good bye apartment.

It means that I don't have to take a taxi to the airport. I can take the public bus. (My sister, then friends write me quickly: don't use a ticket! all public transportation in Warsaw is free today! I ask -- why? It's the air quality. They want to encourage people to not use their cars.)

And so on Nowy Swiat, the street that I nearly always get to when I leave my apartment...

Warsaw then Paris-6.jpg

... I wait at the bus stop, looking for one last time at the people around me, imagining their stories...

Warsaw then Paris-10.jpg

And then I ride the easy 30 minutes to the airport (well, it's 30 minutes when, like today, there's little congestion in the city center). Ahhh, the sights of Warsaw!

Warsaw then Paris-11.jpg

And then everything works like a charm. Onto the Air France flight... (I am always moved at the sight of groups of high school girls. And there is just such a group on this flight -- traveling as a team for some athletic event. I'm thinking -- that was me, here in Warsaw. Different times, different circumstances, and yet so many similarities!)

Warsaw then Paris-13.jpg

Flight on time, arriving at exactly 3:20, and I roll my suitcase to the train station, and am lucky to catch an express into town, so that one hour ago I was disembarking and now I am alighting at the gate to the Luxembourg Gardens! How lovely is that! (It's particularly fortuitous because the park begins its closing at 4:30 in the winter. I have ten minutes of beauty before me!)

Warsaw then Paris-17.jpg

And so I have a lovely pre-dusk stroll, once again with suitcase in tow.

Warsaw then Paris-19.jpg

(Was I really here just a few days ago? It seems like such a lot of time has passed since then!)

Warsaw then Paris-20.jpg

I'm staying at the Baume hotel and the staff treats me so nicely! I pay for a wee room and get a huge space in grateful appreciation for my constant return here. For  three nights, this is just exquisitely lovely and I am grateful. I don't travel expansively in France or indeed in western Europe in the way that I did before retirement, so the few days I am here feel like a very precious vacation getaway.

Warsaw then Paris-23.jpg

I catch my breath, but not for long. Paris streets beckon. Yes, it gets dark early, yes, it can be cold in December (though it isn't this year), yes, it's tough to imagine a picnic in the park now, but Paris is still so very lovely in the weeks just before Christmas.

Warsaw then Paris-24.jpg

Eventually I make my way toward a cozy sweet place for dinner, a place I'd read about just recently. It's a minute away from the Bon Marche department store. (Les Botanistes) It definitely has the feel of a small family run place. Two sons, father chef, and a waiter:

 Warsaw then Paris-34.jpg

It's a great meal: pumpkin soup (!), cod, a stewed pear (with raspberry compote and ice cream).

Warsaw then Paris-38.jpg

It's just perfect for tonight, though woah, I have to get used to western prices again. Poland is so light on the pocketbook by comparison!  (And I say this even as the exchange rate -- dollar to euro -- has never been more favorable for us: it's almost exactly one to one right now.)

I walk back to the hotel smiling. I'm not sure if it's because of Paris or Warsaw, but no matter. I'm smiling. The days have been grand.

(The typical street scene... even in December.)

Warsaw then Paris-41.jpg