Archive for March, 2008

Scooter

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Today is my last day in France, so I decided to do something fun and different. I rented a motor-scooter.

I put my backpack on my back, a helmet on my head, and off I went to explore Paris. 

My Scooter

The streets of Paris are complicated. They go every which way, and have names like “Rue de Faubourg St-Antoine,” and “Avenue des Champs Elysees” (which I still haven’t figured out how to pronounce). I found myself lost many times. But that didn’t matter because riding a motor scooter makes you feel happy–like you could go anywhere, and have no worries. It was an adventure.

My first stop was the Statue of Liberty. 

Little Statue of Liberty

Paris has a Statue of Liberty–just like the one in New York. This statue is a lot smaller and is on the Seine river. My guidebook says it was given to the city in 1889 and it faces west, towards the original Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. 

I took lots of pictures. Here is a picture of me taking a picture. 

Picture of a picture

Roundabouts are intersections where all the drivers go in a circle. Roads enter and leave the roundabout. When you get in the roundabout, you stay in it until you find the road you want to leave on. Sometimes I would ride round and round many times before I decided where I wanted to go. 

It’s hard to look at a street map and ride a scooter at the same time. You have to wait till you stop at a traffic light and try to fumble for the map in your pocket. By the time you get it out, open it up, and start figuring out where you are, the light turns green. Then, you need to move quickly because the French drivers behind you are impatient. 

French Driver: “Beep! Beep!”

Eventually, I just sat on the map. That made it easier to get to. 

The police officers usually speak English. 

Me: Parlez-vous anglais?
Police Officer: Yes.
Me: Can you tell me how to get to (here you could insert anywhere you want to go)
Police Officer: Yes, I can help you with that.

Notre Dame is a big church that is very old. It was built in 1163. Well, it was started then, but it took them almost two hundred years to finish. 

After walking around the big sanctuary, I started to climb the long spiral staircase to the top of Notre Dame. The stairs go on and on and are narrow. Sometimes had to squeeze up against the wall to let somebody pass by me. 

Me: Pardon.
Other Person on Stairs: Excuse me.
Me: Oh, you’re American?
Other Person on Stairs: No, I’m French. But you are an American. Bonjour. 

I don’t know how all the French people can tell that I am an American.  

Stairs 1

The stairs kept going up and up and up. Guess who else I met on the stairs?

Stairs 2

Me: Oh, hello?
Lucy: Hello. Phew! These stairs keep going! ”

It was Lucy, from the wedding. She was doing some sightseeing herself. We climbed to the top of the tower and looked down from the top. We could see for miles (or as they would say in France, Kilometers). 

Lucy: Look at all the clouds moving around. It looks like it’s going to rain soon.
Me: There’s the Eiffel Tower.
Lucy: I’m  hungry, see any places to eat?

I’m hungry

Backpack

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Shop

I had been thinking about my suitcase–the one I had been putting my baggage in. It’s old and when I carried it around at the airport, I kept worrying that the handle would fall off. I decided to buy something new. 

I found a shop titled “Hans’s” and it sold all sorts of stuff. It was owned by a German guy. You could tell he was German, because he was blonde and talked . . . German. 

Me: Parlez-vous anglais?
Hans: Ya.
Me: do you have any backpacks?
Hans: Ya. Look in zee back. 

His shop was full of hats, shoes, coats, purses, and backpacks. 

Buying a backpack is fun–there are so many kinds. There are simple backpacks: ones that have a big compartment and two straps for holding it on your shoulders. And there are complicated backpacks: ones that have many compartments and several straps to hold it onto you, several other straps for holding other stuff onto it, and even more straps for holding it all together. 

There are large backpacks that could hold enough stuff for a camping trip in the wilderness, and there are small ones that can hold a candy bar. 

It’s important to buy a backpack that is the right size. You don’t want it too small because you will have to squeeze all your stuff in it. Then, when you open up the zipper all your stuff comes oozing out around you. But you don’t want one that’s too big, either. Then it is all big and floppy on your back. 

Backpack

I found a brown backpack that was medium complicated. I put all the stuff in my suitcase in it, and it still had some room left–parfait! (that’s French for “perfect”). 

After paying Hans 50 Euros I walked outside the shop. What should I do with my old suitcase? I had owned it for a long time, and didn’t want to just throw it away. 

While I was walking down the street, thinking about this, a older lady holding several shopping bags walked up to me . . .

Older Lady: Speak English?
Me: Um, yes. 

She put down her shopping bags and held up a card with words on it.

Card: “I am from country of Moldova and is poor. I have no home. Please, if you spare money I thank you very very.” 

I didn’t know what to do, she might be lying about being from Moldova and being poor. I opened up my empty suitcase. 

Me: Here, you can put your stuff in my suitcase. I don’t need it anymore.
Older Lady: Oh, very nice. Thank, very nice. 

I helped her put the stuff from her shopping bags into the suitcase.

Then I took her card from her, turned it over and wrote: “Hello, I am from the country of Moldova and do not have a home or any money. If you can give me something, I will thank you very much.” 

I also put one of my little American flags in the suitcase. That way, she will remember America.

She looked happy. I hope I helped her.