Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Paris, day nine

We were on the road, but we had to wait until 8pm for that to be a reality. In other words, we had tickets to Barcelona on the overnight, eight pm train. We had to pack up our place in Paris, leave our bags in a secure spot and then wander about under the Parisian skies for the day.
But there was rain.
Ah well. Woody Allen argued that Paris is more beautiful in the rain. Perhaps. If you have raincoats. And somewhere to go when you are too wet. So we waited for a bit in the shelter of a post office and then hopped between porticos to get to a cafe for hot chocolate and a roof.
And then the sun came out; suddenly. It was like the skies had never been grey or filled with water. There was some discussion about shoe shopping, but I put a stop to that. Its not fair really. There can be shopping elsewhere. So we decided to go to Montmatre for God, art and a deeply tourist experience. Off the Metro and up a little alleyway towards Sacre Coeur. This alleyway was filled with all kinds of tourist fun - the most puzzling was a series of blokes with three black discs, one of which had a white tag underneath (the same game as that with a one ball and three cups). What was amazing to me is that this game is impossible to win. We know that almost by instinct. And yet; there they were. A number of (often English speaking) tourists betting quite large amounts and looking surprised when they lost. And there were about four of these blokes cleaning up. But we went so smug. We got caught in a bracelet scam - more about that later.
We staggered up the apparently thousands of stairs and into the air that hangs above Paris. God it was beautiful. All around the church was a little christmas market (there is an epidemic of these things - they are in every town in Europe, but I'm addicted to them). We bought sausages and donuts and hot wine. Happy days. Then we wandered around Montmatre with all the crooked little houses and the painters and the cafes. It was all too quaint for words.
We watched a storm blow in across Paris and thought about shelter. Happily, there is Sacre Coeur at our back. In we went, and there were toured around. Niccolo bought a medallion.
Then we left Montmatre, but before we left the kids got hooked into some bracelets and Myles lost his temper about it.
Then there was some more walking - to the Hotel des Invalides and to the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais. We were shattered by this point - cold and tired and still with hours to blow before the train. It was time for more hot wine and so to another conveniently located christmas market.
Finally, with sore feet and headaches induced by the cold, we found ourselves at the station and our train trip to the sunny south. Our cabin was the size of a closet - this was an interesting challenge to our family relationship. Feet issues were the most critical thing - but then the train steward (is that what they would be called?) came in and set up our beds and more or less ordered us to sleep. We obeyed. And when we woke, we were in Barcelona. It is like the Magic Faraway Tree where the lands change at the top.

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