Friday, July 1, 2011

French Wines

Nairobi International Airport compared to other international airports rates at the bottom of our travels. The wait area for flights is circa 1950 with a strong emphasis on bad duty free strip mall like shopping in a dimly lit aisle way. Our three hour wait seemed like it would never end after experiencing the 40 minute drive from our hotel to the airport on the rain soaked potholed construction wrecked streets. It was a definite sign for us to move on.

Lisa Wines guiding us from airport to apartment..isn't she cute!
Anticipation ran rampant through our veins to board our flight for Paris to meet our dear expiate friend Lisa Wines. Lisa has been very successful at reinventing herself as an international marketing instructor in Paris where she now calls home. Schools out for the summer and we get to have Lisa to pal around Paris for a week. While in Greece we communicated with her and she arranged for us to rent her friends apartment in the outer ring of Paris but close enough in the city to take the Metro or buses anywhere. She gave us the crash course on how to travel in and around Paris giving us the tools we needed to explore this incredible city.

Paris apartment..our bed on top
Our flight out of Nairobi first took us to Doha, Qatar where we switched planes and got to walk about the ultra modern sleek airport. Qatar was obviously not hurting for government funding for its infrastructure unlike the rest of the world. Within a couple hours we boarded our direct flight to Paris. Surprisingly both of us slept well on the plane and when we landed at the Charles De Galle Airport, deplaned, immigrated; bag retrieved and stepped into the international greeting area the wide smile of Lisa was a welcomed sight.  Quickly after our reunion Lisa guided us to the train and whisked into the center of Paris to our new home for a week. Stepping off the train we schlepped our bags to the apartment well not quite up to the apartment. First Lisa having to get up so early to meet us at the airport forgot the keys so Sharon and I sat across the street at the corner café and drank coffee, read books and munched on pastry until Lisa made the 45 minute round trip to her apartment to retrieve the keys.
Locks of Love... Paris affectionate tradition for fresh love

Before she left for the key retrieval she informed us on a personal matter that may affect our immediate occupation of the apartment. Her former boyfriend might be there because they share the same friendship with the apartment owner and the boyfriend being in a victim of an economic calamity, uses the apartment during it’s lull times to seek refuge from the boulevards.

The Bradley Museum...impressive indigenous art collection 
Lisa returned and I pointed out to her the window of the apartment opened while I wasn’t looking so there is a good chance someone is there.  After briefing me on the situation and what to expect when the door opens, I took the keys and hiked up the five flights of stairs to introduce myself and explain the situation. I unlocked the door and surprised the ex-boyfriend at the door and his female friend sitting at the dining table. After his assessment of the situation, he made a phone call to the apartment owner who admitted he forgot about our arrival. After hanging up he began to pace while repeating the situation as being  “very uncomfortable” and after short discussion and mutual understanding of each other’s dilemma, he kindly apologized and said the apartment would be clean ready for us within three hours. I returned to my timid awaiting posse at the corner cafe explaining the plan, grabbed our bags, hiked back up the stairs to the 4th floor and stored the bags in the apartment until later.

Now without the bags we could roam about freely and the first thing was to get some food at a bistro to stave off our 15 hour travel hunger. Lisa brought us to one of her favorite spots only a few blocks away. With sandwiches and salads quelling our appetites and organic (Bio) wines soothing our weary bodies, we began our first exploration of the sights of Paris. First came the Sacre Couer, a massive cathedral  capping one of the highest view points of Paris affording us a fantastic view of the city and our first view of the famous Eiffel Tower from Lisa’s secret spot. Like baby ducks following in line with the momma duck, we bounded down the hilltop to the fabric district and into the African neighborhood.
Painting in the Louvre depicting early cell phone user

The afternoon began to fall away so we returned to our now vacated apartment and settled in. The days following our arrival were packed with traditional sight seeing, aimless exploring, silly consumption of wine, watching movies, doing laundry, endless silly conversations, and confirming just how great it is to have such a wonderful friend. Our destinations were the usual Cathedral at Notre Dam, The Louvre, and the Eiffel Towner but the surprise museum was the Bradley Museum for indigenous cultures.

Our week went by so fast but the time had come for us to move on for a few days to explore the Benelux countries before returning to Paris so we can catch our flight to London tomorrow.

Our last day in Paris we entered a restaurant during the summer and left in the spring. During those imaginary months, we ate wonderful food, drank the organic wines, and sampled unique single malt whiskey. The sunny day turned cold and rainy and sitting in a warm dry café trading stories was the perfect last supper to commemorate our visit. 

Later that afternoon I had to make a decision as to where we would go the next morning. I have no science to this last minute selection of direction and if it didn’t serve me well I would search for another format but usually in every case my off the cuff choice works out. For months I’ve had Amsterdam on our schedule directly after Paris and I wanted to show Sharon the Reich and the Van Gogh museums but I felt there had to be something more….that’s when Luxembourg floated through my mind. Being such a small country, I always skipped by it and now I felt this was my opportunity to quickly take a peek at this funny little country for a couple days.  

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a trip! I have caught up with you now after being away from my computer for the past couple of months and I'm so happy you are having such a wonderful tour. I'm still looking forward to your return and a much closer look at all your photos. Love you both!