Thursday, April 16, 2009

paris and musings continued by k

it's pouring outside. a real spring thundershower. down below in central barcelona the sun is shining. it's a strange sight, but i can literally see the edge of the rain cloud line and below that is sun. i'm imagining the little kids at school ooohhing and aaahhing over the thunder. i'm also imagining dorian being disappointed because p.e. might be cancelled. the elementary school p.e. teacher just came back after several months away. he was hit by a car and then had to wait a long time to get a surgery slot. dorian was very excited this morning to have p.e. again with mr. doles! i can't remember what time of day he has p.e. i hope it was earlier before the rain set in.

barak is out for a walk on the mountain with a friend. i wonder how wet he'll be when he gets home!

so back to paris.

we had just finished our shopping expedition to monoprix. we went back to the apartment to drop bags and get mimi and arel, and then strolled in the direction of the centre pompidou. we were going to go in, but the line was long, so instead we sat outside, got some snacks and watched people.

next stop, our canal tour. when we got to the boat, the top level was already completely packed with people, so was the front outdoor part. so we sat inside at the beginning, which was fine because the first 20 minutes were in a tunnel, so it was chilly and dark. from the beginning to end of the journey, we would rise something like 37 meters (don't quote me on that could be 27 or 42, but 37 sticks in my mind.)

going through the first lock was a novelty. the boat goes into a small area and a door closes behind it. then the door in front starts to let water in so the boat rises slowly to the next level. quite a feat of engineering, but what really stuck out was what a slow process it is. arel and mimi declared early on that they were bored. not in a real complainy way, just a fact. they tried to sit outside on the back of the boat, but the smell of gas was overwhelming.

when we boarded, one of the crew members told us that a lot of people from the top would come down at some point to eat and that then we could go up. so when that point came, arel and i headed up first. we got great seats at the front of the boat. it was nice to be in the fresh air and the sunshine. we were tempted mightily to jump off the boat when we were on the level of the river bank, but we never worked up the courage! we thought it would be funny to jump off and then run ahead of the boat and wave to lydia and mimi from the shore. but we stayed put and after a while, lydia and mimi came up and we all started to settle in.

but then the cake and coffee people (that's what they had been served downstairs) started to come back up and reclaim their seats. to me, when they went downstairs they lost their claim to their seats, and i asked in my broken french if their seats were reserved. i think our issue was less one of language and more one of perception. they believed that we were sitting in their seats, and i didn't. i wasn't going to move. i asked myself if i was being an obnoxious american, but i rationalized that we had spent the same on the ticket and that we also deserved a time up on top! i finally bowed to the feeling that everyone was talking about me and had arel sit on my lap. i figured if we only took up one seat, they would just have to deal. and they did. but i still think we remained a point of discussion and they were not sad to see us get off at the first of two stops at the end of the tour.

probably the best thing about the canal tour was that it got us to a fabulous park on the outskirts of paris. huge, lots of grass, and childrens' play areas with themes, like wind, or mirrors. it was built in the 1980s on the grounds of the city's old slaughterhouses (thanks, lydia, for that fun fact!). arel and mimi each had a nutella crepe (they were starving...lydia and i had a few nibbles), and then they happily played in the wind park. they ran and flipped over on giant hamster wheels, and flew down ziplines, while lydia and i sat on comfy lounge chairs and watched the largely immigrant population of fellow parkgoers around us.

to much grumbling, we left the park around 6:30 because i had made dinner plans with a friend who was coincidentally in paris at the same time. lydia kindly offered to stay with the kids. we had a lovely dinner at a seafood restaurant and had lots of time to catch up on life. when the waiter told us what some things on the menu were in english, i had to laugh because crab sounded like crap, and i wondered what french crap would taste like. my friend said i was clearly spending a lot of time with boys! what can i say, potty humor is big in this family.

weather update: it's totally sunny now. the rain has stopped and barak made it back completely dry.

i'm going to sign off for now and come back later with tales from our last day, the wax museum and missing our flight out of charles de gaulle.