July 3, 2008
1:40 pm depart YEG (Edmonton)
July 4, 2008
9:40 am arrive CDG (Paris)
We (Leslie, Zak and I) packed up and headed for C’s rabbit hole to pick her up and move her out. This was a first international flight for all of us (except when I was a baby), so we were somewhat clueless as what to expect. We flew into Toronto for a short layover and then it was off over the great big sea.
As far as I can recall, no one got much sleep and the picture of us waiting for the bus at Charles de Gaulle certainly supports that. I have a note in my journal, and I distinctly remember the bus trip being surreal as it first zoomed down the freeway and then maneuvered among the old buildings on the way to our hotel. The bus was, according to my research, the best way of escaping the environs of the airport, especially as it stopped at Gare de Lyon (the next day’s starting point), which was right across from our Hotel Terminus Lyon. Prior planning etc…
We disembarked at the train station, and wandered aimlessly looking for the hotel that was right in front of our faces. The entrance, squeezed between two outdoor cafes, was less than obvious and it took us 10 minutes of wandering before anyone looked up to see the neon sign on the upper floor of the building. We checked in, C eschewing the tiny, tiny elevator, and all flopped on our beds for a quick moment before valiantly heading out to find food.
Next up: the big wander! So we crossed the Seine on the Pont d’Austerlitz and headed west all agog and more than three-quarters stunned. Ain’t jetlag grand! We followed the river enjoying the sights and the to-and-fro of a major European city until the majestic sight of Notre Dame rose up across the water and we stopped to enjoy the moment. And that was the moment that C decided she’d lost her camera. Imagine 3 (Zak was very much blasé about the whole thing) people spinning in circles searching bags and patting pockets in in the shadow of one of Europe’s architectural masterpieces. Yup, we looked that silly.
We didn’t go in — that thing was sporting some of the biggest line-ups I had ever seen — but we admired the grounds, oohed at the gargoyles and ahhed at the facade. We crossed back over and there, right before our eyes, was Shakespeare and Company. Shakespeare and Company is an English bookstore on the banks of the Seine. The left bank in particular. The left bank was the home of the expatriates and literati of the early Modernist period. Leslie is a Modernist scholar. Yes, there was squeeeeing.
The first was opened by Sylvia Beach on 19 November 1919 at 8 rue Dupuytren, before moving to larger premises at 12 rue de l’Odéon in the 6th arrondissement in 1922. During the 1920s, it was a gathering place for writers such as Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and Ford Madox Ford.
This location isn’t the original, but it was close enough for us.
After a longish sojourn, we wandered up the narrow streets and crowded alleys of the left bank. Of note was out first sight of the famous Paris Metro entrances. Each line is decorated in a different style, and I lucked out with my first being a particularly lovely example of Art nouveau. We stopped at an outdoor cafe to rest and I shared my first legal glass of wine with Zak, the French having much more reasonable laws regarding wine than we North Americans.
That was pretty much it for the day. We hung out and explored a little as the sun went down and then headed back to the hotel for some much-needed sleep. Tomorrow we were back on the road (rail actually) and off to see our boat.