As you will read, I've written this while waiting for and settling into the train to Barcelona. I intend to post it as soon as I find a good Internet connection. . .
Is that not the most evocative title? So romantic, although romantic is hardly a word to be used in connection with Paris' Gare d'Austerlitz, where Paul and I are currently waiting for said train. We've had a busy and tiring day today after checking out of our hotel early, leaving our luggage behind so that we could take advantage of our last day here for a month.
|Cute and cozy cabin|
And what a productive day it was: we took the Metro over to the Musée d'Art Moderne to see their brilliant exposition of Keith Haring's work. Such a large and compelling oeuvre the man put together in such a short life. It obviously helped that he hit the ground running, with an exciting show of his work at only 20.
Lunch next door at the Palais de Tokyo's very hip cafeteria Tokyo Eats. We did our best to stretch out surveying the Haring show and savouring the three courses and wine and espresso. Even so, we were ready to head out by 1:30, and our train wasn't leaving 'til 10:16. . . So we walked. Across the Seine, joining the tourists heading to the Eiffel Tower, an area we generally avoid. And sure enough, three times we experienced the gold ring scam, once warning off an obviously gullible young man that he was being played for a mark.
After conceding that the Tour Eiffel is undeniably a gorgeous piece of engineering, we wandered back to a site that deserves to be better known and more visited, the Musée de quai Branly. We'd already had our fill of exhibitions, but we took advantage of the clean, free washrooms -- the savvy visitor to Paris has a little list of toileting possibilities across the city. Then we sat outside, enjoying the prize-winning architecture and the environmentally sensitive, strikingly effective and inspiring landscaping, including the huge exterior "living wall."
Then back to our march across the City, through the 7th, into the 6th, along St Germain until I cried "Enough!" and we grabbed a front-row seat at the Café Les Deux Mégots for a chocolat chaud (me) and a Leffe (him) and settled in for some prime people-watching. And the people did not disappoint, although I was soon rolling my eyes at the number whose goals while in Paris seem primarily to involve photographing landmarks such as Les Deux Mégots, inserting either themselves or their friends into the foreground. I couldn't help but wonder how many of them have heard of Sartre and de Beauvoir for whom the Place on which the Café is located has been named.
But enough of my grousing about the other tourists. Time to settle the addition and head back to the 13th to recover our luggage, check the email, say good-bye before making our way to the Gare, stopping first at one of those restaurants one always finds around a train station. Ours served up satisfying enough fare with an Auvergnat twist and we lingered comfortably before heading across the street, determining that the train was ready for us to board, and now we're settled in our cozy little bunks, ready for the train to rock us to sleep. Of course, we will regularly be woken as stations are called out, but we will drift off again wondering what Barcelona will look like when we ride into her heart in the morning ("I will wake you at 8:30 for breakfast," our porter has just assured us, knocking on the door to check our tickets, exchanging them for our breakfast vouchers).
While we have been wandering Paris, preparing to cross the frontier into Barcelona, Pater has crossed another border, having received news that his father passed away Thursday morning. His sadness at this news is much tempered by the reality that his father was impatient to be delivered from the weakness and discomfort of end-stage myeloma. Still, it's tough to process this new state so far from the rest of the family. He is still sorting out whether or not it will be possible or desirable/necessary to get back for the funeral, but meanwhile, we plan to explore Barcelona together for the next few days. . . I hope to share some of these explorations with you, depending what kind of Internet access we find.