September 4 ~ Paris, France
I'm pretty sure I'm in France, an interesting little country on the way to Siberia. I had the choice of changing planes in Detroit, Atlanta, or Paris. I opted for door number tres so I can spend a few layover days seeing how they do things here.
I time-warped my way through the long flight from Seattle by sleeping much of the way. Don't you agree that there's nothing more relaxing than hurtling across the sky six miles above the earth in a metal tube going 600 miles an hour? Throw in a free soda and a couple of those teensie bags of pretzels and you've got yourself something.
When I stumbled off the plane I was met by an illuminated billboard for Mastercard that read "Getting Lost in Paris--Priceless!" I've been sufficiently jet-lagged all day to put that little theory to the test. I managed to make it through the RER train system, following the step-by-step instructions from my friend Page, and found myself emerging above ground in the middle of the city, just a few blocks from my hotel.
But the internal gyroscope in my brain that I find usually so reliable had not yet downloaded the basic coordinates for this new location. That and jet lag, and I was pleasantly disoriented, wandering the streets of the Left Bank with a goofy grin on my face, no doubt looking every bit the lost tourist I was at the moment. Then I pulled out my compass (and how Bob-ish is THAT?) and got enough of a grip on the place that I could walk to my hotel.
The Hotel Leveque on Rue Cler has the tiniest elevator in the history of elevators. Mr. Otis would be proud. It's all glass, which is cool, and fitted into an elevator shaft which is itself fitted into the circular void in the middle of a very tight spiral staircase. To get an idea of the elevator's floor plan, spread a bath towel on your livingroom carpet and stand on it. Then put the elevator door at one of the narrow ends. Hah! That's a Really Tiny Elevator! I made one trip up in order to get my bag to my room, then had to make a second trip just to fit in my hat.
I spent the afternoon walking about in my disoriented, jet-lagged haze, having way too much fun. I used the Paris guide book by Seattle travel guru Rick Steves to recommend a restaurant for a late afternoon lunch, and found myself surrounded by a restaurant full of American tourists having late afternoon lunches while reading their own copies of Rick Steves Paris guide book. That was a little strange. On the other hand, I didn't see any of them pulling compasses out of their pockets, so I guess there is still some information about traveling in Paris that Mr. Steves has yet to cover.
After I ate I hike down the street that I was sure would lead me straight to the Eiffel Tower, but after I had gone a little too far in that direction, the tower suddenly appeared 90-degrees off to my right. Big, that Eiffel Tower. Full of bolts. I need to return when I have my wits about me.
With that little landmark identified, I'm beginning to feel somewhat grounded for the wanderings to come. At least that's the plan. But first I have to find my way back to the hotel from this little cybercafe and, at long last, give in to a very big sleep in the little tiny bed in my little tiny room at the top of the little tiny elevator.
Adieu for now...