Wednesday, October 23, 2019

the pace changes

Bee, my good friend from Warsaw arrives today (sorry for the silly nickname, but I wasn't sure she'd like having her full name plastered all over Ocean) and so the pace of the day changes. The goal is to spend time with her. Our paths do not cross very often: she lives there, I live elsewhere. It's true that my closest friends in the U.S. also live far from me, but having a close friend in Poland, one from my generation, poses singular problems. Bee and I have known each other since she married my university pal, oh some forty plus years ago. This is at once truly wonderful -- we have a history! But a history also ties one down.

Until email came around, she and I did not correspond. We never called or texted. It was a different era! For decades, my contact with her and with nearly everyone in Poland was maintained only through my visits there. It's difficult to change that pattern, but Bee and I are trying!

I owe her a lot. In all my visits to Warsaw, until I got my own apartment, she was singularly responsible for my social connections to our pack of old friends. She hosted countless dinners and made sure everyone's calendars were in sync so that I could see even those with whom my contacts had fizzled. And there's icing to this cake: she and I see the world in much the same way (this, of course, is my opinion, but I bet she would not disagree). It's wonderful to just talk to her.

All this to say that the next days belong to our time together here. She made the effort to come to Paris, according to my calendar, staying at my hotel, walking the streets of this grand city with me taking charge of our agenda. And so Ocean has to take a back seat. I can't tell if my camera will stay hidden. Time to write will be almost nonexistent. I'm sure all of you will understand.

*   *   *

(morning view: no place takes street cleaning as seriously as Paris)


Breakfast, still alone, at the hotel.


And a quick errand in the neighborhood, still alone.


*   *   *

And now at last we are in step. Bee arrives just before lunch and after leaving her things at the hotel, she and I  head to Breizh Cafe for some Brittany buckwheat crepes. And from there starts our grand walk. Well, grand if you think about the wonderment of it all. But I can't say that we walked so hard and long that I wore the soles off of my shoes.

As expected, I kept my camera mostly in my bag. With exceptions. Here's Bee by the book stalls that line the Left Bank...


A glance to the Right Bank: you can catch a glimpse of the Sacre Coeur way in the distance...


We criss cross the Seine. To the right...


To the left again...


As you can tell it's mighty cloudy out there. It's a good time to give up on the walk and plunge into the Parisian metro system.

We didn't really aim to visit a museum today, but in Paris, the temptation is always great to do just that. At the distant and little known Marmottan, there is a special exhibit of a Dutch painter (Piet Mondrian) who began his painting career immersed in Impressionism, then reinvented himself as a true modernist. The exhibit is, unfortunately, popular among Parisians. There is a bit of a line to get in. We wait.

This is when it starts to rain. Not a big rain, mind you, but enough to make you pull up your collar against the wet drops. Hey, not fair! You promised to hold off at least until Sunday!

Finally, inside. We aren't immediately drawn to the exhibit of Mr. Piet. Rather, we dive into the museum's real treasure -- the permanent collection of canvases by Monet.


We're there until the guard chases us out at closing time.

How did it get to be so late??

Back on the metro... (which doesn't always stay underground. Here's a view worth looking out of the window for...)


And now we're on the Left Bank again, just in time for dinner. Tonight we eat lots of seafood at the Seulement Sea.

I do like this tiny little place that's so close to our hotel, even as it's a little weird to eat there: it occupies the space of Pouic Pouic -- a restaurant I always returned to on my Parisian visits, until the owners decided to move on and do other things with their lives and fortunes. Still, I do really enjoy this new incarnation of a simple but good little eatery. I'm sure I'll return to it in future travels. In the meantime, Bee and I do a selfie. And it wasn't even my idea!


There: I wrote more than I thought possible given the lateness of the hour. Tomorrow I'll be quieter. Maybe!