Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bienvenue en France, Llew

Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Paris, France


After a fairly sleepless night, I overslept and awoke only at 7. 45 am realizing that I had to shower and shampoo and clean my apartment before I left for Charles de Gaulle airport to pick Llew up. I had never taken the metro to the airport so was surprized by the cost (almost 10 euros each way and no discounts for round trip!) and the length of the journey--it took almost an hour. Fortunately, I had left well in time and by 11. 30 am I was at the right American Airlines terminal on the Arrivals level on schedule--only to discover that he flight had been delayed and was expected at 12. 15 pm. Merde!

Fortunately, I had taken a book and found myself a great seat at Cafe Ritaaz where, propped with a cafe, I awaited his arrival. In due time, Llew made an appearance. He looked tired, sleep-deprived and dissatisfied--all of which, he told me, were true, as it had been an awful flight (old aircraft, cramped seating, terrible food). He braved the long metro ride back to my apartment and although I expected him to take a nap (we reached home at 2. 00 pm), he thought he would wait it out for fear of not falling asleep at night. He welcomed the cuppa I made him, followed very quickly by a very late lunch: salad, quich lorraine and fresh apricots for dessert.

Exploring Cite-Universitaire:
I thought it made sense to take Llew out on a walk around the neighborhood and we started with Cite-Universitaire, the international student community in which I have been ensconsed for the past month. I had saved an exploration of the area for Llew's arrival and it was fun indeed to take the tour with him. We found a map at the main lobby of the Maison Internationale where we discovered the very inexpensively priced student cafetaria and the nicer restaurant.

Using the map to guide us, we made our way around the extensive park-like lawns that comprise this complex. We walked from one building to the next taking in the architectural and sculptural elements from the Casa de Mexico to the La Corbusier-designed Maison de Suisse, from the collonnaded portico of the Maison d'Italie to the much plainer but very interesting Maison de l'Inde which, naturally, I had to explore. Large portraits of Rabindranath Tagore (India's Nobel Literature Laureate--1913) with France's Nobel Literature Laureate, Romaine Rollande--1916, decorated the lobby with a sculpture of Gandhi and more ancient ones from the Sun Temple at Konarak. We also saw the Maison de Maroc and the Spanish and Danish and Norwegian ones before we crossed the street to get to the Marche Franprix to buy groceries for the week.

It was great to pick out food we could try together from a packaged chocolate brioche to a new creamy chevre, from Leffe beer (for me) to new bottles of Bordeau and Cabernet Sauvignon for him. Weighed down by our purchases, we walked briskly home, stashed our goodies and had a cup of tea with Battenburg cake and French macarons and palmiers (the crisp puff pastries cookies with the sweet and delicious glaze).

Exploring Parc Montsouris:
The other thing I had kept to do when Llew arrived was to explore together the Parc Montsouris which lies right across the street from my building. It is a 117 hectare park at the outer edge of the city, the brainchild of Napoleon and his chief architect Baron Hausmann who wished to provide the city with lungs. Based on the style of an English garden, the park turned out to be an absolute delight and Llew and I loved every second of our walk around its green and fragrant environs.

There were beautiful peach roses clinging to the picket fences and spilling over on to the RER train platforms below. There was a vast lake filled with all sorts of mallards, ducks, geese and even swans--both graceful white and the rarer black ones. There was loads of classical sculpture surrounded by beds full of lavender and catmint. There were railings that looked as if they were made of tree trunks--but they turned out to be artificial stone logs instead--so realistically constructed as to be fool-proof. We found ourselves a bench by the lakeside and had a long sit-down and caught up on all the important news of the past few weeks. I discovered that the gold-plated sculpture that I spy from my bathroom window each morning when I first wake up and begin to brush my teeth is not Mozart but the AmericanThomas Paine whose writings on Liberty and the Rights of Man impacted the French Revolution. It is amazing what discoveries one can make on a short walk in the neighborhood!

Llew loves my apartment and thinks I am very lucky indeed to have found it. While he spent the evening at the telly watching Eurosport 2012 (the football match was between Portugual and Spain and Portugal lost!), I rustled up our first really decent meal in our apartment: Salade Composee with my Citrus Mayonnaise (Llew loved it!) with quiche for starters; Ham Tortellini in a Cream Sauce with Pancetta for a main course and Praline Pecan Ice-cream for dessert. While he finished watching the game, I found one of the students that is vacating the building tomorrow selling some of her stuff in a tag sale--and I decided to nip off to her room to pick up some cleaning supplies. I was delighted to find a lot of things I could really use for just 5 euros for the lot!--laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent, scrubbers plus extra virgin olive oil, and a few spices. It was exactly what I needed and she was just thrilled to be able to get rid of them. So it was a very happy transcation indeed.          

Llew had a shower before bed and hoped it will help fight jetlag which is keeping him full of beans although it is past midnight here. For which reason, I need to call it a night.

A demain!

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