Tuesday, January 26, 2016

And Then to Paris


From Budapest I flew to Paris for two and a half weeks. I hadn't intended such a long stay but, as they say, life is what happens while you are busy making plans. I flew to Paris on very short notice and without any hotel reservations. There wasn't much available at any price and I was on a strict budget so I ended up on the outskirts of the city in an area that was somewhat seedy, but very exotic and fascinating. It was truly a multi-cultural experience being in Paris, the city of art & architecture, glamour & haute couture, but in a neighborhood that was primarily Middle Eastern. I walked around for hours every day exploring shops and markets and small cafes. My hotel was down a narrow side street that was dark and deserted at night so I limited my explorations to the daylight hours. I never felt threatened but it wasn't the best of neighborhoods and I wasn't going to push my luck.

After a few days, through a friend in Seattle, I was introduced via Facebook to Ariana. It would be impossible to describe Ariana in one blog post. She is a young American woman, living in Paris, who is a multi-cultural experience in herself. She lived part of her life in Mexico and speaks fluent Spanish, is currently living in Paris and speaks fluent French, while she works on her dissertation in Brazilian history and speaks fluent Portuguese. I'm pretty sure that she has a good grasp of Italian as well. She has packed so much life into 30 years that it's impossible to keep it all straight and I apologize, Ariana, if I've got part of your history wrong. Her energy and enthusiasm are infectious and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute with her whether on a tour of her neighborhood or sitting in her apartment sharing conversation and a bottle of wine.


When I met Ariana she was planning to go away for a few days and offered me the use of her apartment. She said I would have the experience of living in a typical Parisian apartment, but, just as there is nothing typical or average about Ariana, there is certainly nothing typical or average about her apartment.
It is filled with bright colors, souvenirs of her travels, fascinating books and lots of art, most painted by Ariana herself. In spite of all the bright imagery and creative energy, I found staying in her apartment to be peaceful and relaxing and a very special gift. Thank you, Ariana, for so warmly welcoming me to Paris.







From Ariana's apartment I began to explore the heart of Paris. The timing was perfect to meet up with childhood friends from Shelton, WA. Charlie and his wife, Mary, had been living in Paris for the past year. His sister, Julie, was visiting with her husband, Brandt. It was great to catch up with them and to share a walking tour of the city led by Charlie who knows Paris so well. I was introduced to an area of Paris that I hadn't seen before and enjoyed so much that I returned to it several times on my own.
I also spent many happy hours wandering along the River Seine and wherever else my feet and mood led me.






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