Monday, December 12, 2005

Hey, What are we doing in New Jersey!

The sight of civilization,coming on the heels of our sojourn down hell's little acre, was a sight I thought would be a welcome one--that is, until I saw LaHarve. A more dismal city is hard to imagine. Newark comes close. However, we needed gas - and we needed it fast. All that driving around in circles consumes a boatload of fuel, so before we found a berth for the night, I was determined to find a gas station. It was close to 9 pm and it wasn't easy, but after getting lost in downtown beautiful LeHarve, we found one - and, as luck would have it, it was next to the most uncharming commuter hotel you can imagine. But, hey, it was late, the place was obviously adequate if not romantic and since romance was as far off-shore as one of the tankers out in LeHarve's lovely harbor, it was just fine.
So we settled in for a long winter's nap in Le Harve's version of a Holiday Inn-only after swearing to one another that we'd be out of there by 7 the next morning. We held pretty close to it, too.
So, enough already. No Venice, No Mt. St. Michel, No Hon Fleur. It was Paris for us -and as fast as possible, thank you very much.

The weather cooperated as much as a western European winter will allow, and within a few hours we were sailing into the heart of Paris. I was driving and having never driven in Paris before, I will say that I was pretty proud of my ability to navigate the narrow streets and around all those little Parisian cars which tend to dart out from everywhere. (All those years of competitive driving in NYC served me well.) As usual, food was the first thing on our minds, but parking took precedence. After much searching, we found the tiniest space imaginable into which I, me, the parallel-parking queen, squeezed our station wagon.

Something happens to me when I enter la large city It's a weird combination of adrenaline and calm. At the end of the day, I'm an urban person, and cities make me feel "at home". One of my earliest memories is that of being in my stroller in an elevator in the apartment building that I grew up in so I guess that explains the feeling of "security" that washes over me when I go to town. And what a town, it is! Paris was getting ready for Christmas and it was just donning its finery.

Even the most mundane windows (check out this Parisian Gap) have more style -and humor:

And the Parks! Even those created in the 1700's have managed to combine the old with the new with a panache that no one can emulate.

With a good meal and a trip to the Marais under our belts we were ready to tackle the question of that night's sleeping quarters. We had rented an apt for the week, but since we were two days early and not able to reach the rental agent (it wa Saturday, don't you know) we were in need of a place to stay--and therein forms the base for my next installment:
How Small does your Room have to be before you're sleeping in the Hall?


Blogger Mary deB said...

Ah, memories of a Paris hotel. It was not tiny, but it had a very high ceiling, and the light burnt out in our first moments there. Then the little light over the teeny weeny sink burnt out, and by the end of the stay, I think we were even without a bedside light. We would mention it to the concierge every morning... but I guess they'd need a ladder to do the ceiling light and they just weren't ready to go to such lengths.... Ah, how patient I must have been then!

6:33 AM  
Blogger alltangledup said...

i'm dying for next installment... please put me out of my misery!

9:44 AM  

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