Thursday, August 18, 2005


Ten years ago today - Nice to Paris

In the 2005 world, we're experiencing technical difficulties. With less than a week of travel left in 1995, I was facing difficulties of another kind.

9:50 am, 18 August 1995
Gare du Nice

Here we are, just pulling out of the station on the much anticipated trip from Nice to Paris. I've been looking SO forward to Paris as the crowning jewel of my trip. But...

This morning when I got to the station, I headed for the news stand to get a Herald Tribune or USA Today, the only North American papers widely available in Europe. The front page of all the dailies were covered with the morning's big news story - a second bombing in a heavily touristed area of Paris. The first was about a week before I left Canada - a bomb in a Paris metro station. In fact, the metro station is just one stop away from the hotel where I made my reservation. Taking a Garp-esque attitude, I've been joking that it's the safest place in all of Europe now; no one woud bomb twice in one place. Ha ha, very funny until a second bomb goes off the day before you're scheduled to arrive.

The bomb yesterday was above ground, in a garbage bin near the Arc de Triomphe. Luckily, no one was killed by the second bomb. I'm feeling extremely uneasy, though.

It's hard not to overreact. These bombs are placed in heavily touristed areas (the first was between Notre Dame and the Louvre), ignited during times of heavy pedestrian traffic. I don't want to spend my entire vacation in Paris jumping at every sound, and I don't want to hide the whole time I'm there in my hotel room. It's like I told Mom before I left, you can't spend all your time being afraid of these things or you'll never leave the house. Why Paris now, though? I'm glad I spoke to Mom and (Beloved) yesterday so they won't worry. And I'm particularly glad I spent that extra day in Nice... I had considered changing my reservation and leaving for Paris a day early. Someone somewhere is watching out for me!

8:39 pm, same day
Pont Neuf, Paris

Paris, Paris, Paris! There are not enough words to adequately describe Paris! Currently, I'm sitting on a tour ferry, set to leave at 9 pm for a cruise of the Seine River. That's 9 pm in the evening! After dark! But it IS the city of lights, and I figure this is the best, safest way to see it as such. Besides, the dock is 1/2 block from my hotel - how coud I go wrong?

I just had another memorable dinner... salad with avacados, steak in a cream pepper sauce, and mmmm chocolate mousse and wine. So far, j'adore Paris! My hotel is a little run down, but location, location, location!! Three and a half days will barely be enough to enjoy this city. Ah, la bateau parte ... au revior!

10:30 pm, same day
Hotel Henri IV, Paris

Well, that was a nice little cruise. Nothing too exciting, but a lovely night view of the lit-up Eiffel Tower. More importantly, though, I walked around the Island for 30 minutes after the cruise in the dark! Yes, I have taken back the night in the city of lights. Actually, it's probably never been safer - because of the bomb scare, there are police and national guardsmen everywhere.

This hotel, although somewhat dilapitated, has a real charm to it, and is located in the *best* neighbourhood! There's a floor-to-ceiling window that overlooks a café-lined square. As I write, someone is playing folk guitar and singing on a café patio just below me. I've fallen back into that F. Scott Fitzgerald novel from Rome. I can almost hear the old manual typewriter clacking away.

My god, I'm in PARIS!!