At the end of my last post, I noted that our flight for Marrakesh was at 6:10. What I did not know then was that it was at 6:10 a.m., and when I typed those words it had already left. So Steve and I strolled, care-free, from Olivia's apartment to the Grande Jatte, the island in the Seine painted most famously by pointillist George Seurat. Later, we sipped our cafe cremes in a leisurely manner, and still later we walked with Olivia in the Bois de Boulogne. We were feeling almost cocky when we got on the airport bus with what we thought was plenty of time and arrived at what we thought was 2.5 hours early. We even had another coffee in the airport before checking the Departures board and feeling our stomachs drop.
Instantly, it was clear there were no 6:10 PM flights to Marrakech. Rather, the next flight would be at 6 Monday morning. I'm to blame for this error. The only way I can explain it is that when I made the reservations alll those months ago and saw EasyJet's one flight per day to Marrakech, it never crossed my mind that the 6:10 could refer to that cold dark hour before dawn, rather than the cilivized end-of-the afternoon alternative.
Such is the price of living in a country that uses a 12-hour clock rather than the 24-hour one so common elsewhere. Given the magnitude of this mistake (MISSING the flight! By 9 hours?!!?), what happened next was not all that bad. We were able to secure 2 of the remaining 7 seats for the flight early tomorrow, and EasyJet only charged us the difference between the price we'd paid before and the last-minute tab. We were able to Skype our hotel in Marrakech and reschedule our pickup from the airport. We took the free airport bus the two stops to the hotel center, and we got a room at the Ibis Hotel for 97 euros. It's clean and well-designed. The pizza and French beer in its restaurant was pretty good.
It may not be the most romantic place to spend our 40th anniversary. But things could be a lot worse.
Three full days have passed, so jam-packed that there's been no time to write. Now it's early Sunday morning, sunny and clear. I caught a New York Times story yesterday about the fact that all the recent warm weather has generated unusual levels of smog. We noticed it vaguely, but it's seems like nothing, compared to LA on a bad day. And in the plus column, the city fathers have made it free to ride on all the buses and metros in the city these past few days, in an effort to encourage people to abandon their automobiles. It's certainly worked for Steve and me!
On foot and transported gratis by the good taxpayers of Paris, we've experienced all manner of things we'd never seen or done before. Two photography shows (one on Brassai and a mind-boggling salute to Henri Cartier-Bresson at the Pompidou center) and a collection of 100 impressionist paintings that are normally in private collections but currently have been gathered here at the Musee Marmottan. That's in the same neighborhood where we had our very first home-exchange house 34 years ago. As I cringed, Olivia tapped on the windows and got the gracious young resident (who was in the midst of preparing a dinner party for friends) to actually let us come in and gawk at how she and her husband have remodeled the place. Well done!
We also: checked out Paris's Chinatown area, explored the artisans' shops in the Viaduc des Arts (and then walked back on the Promenade Plantee — the one-time railroad tracks that were the first elevated park project in the world and since have inspired others elsewhere), and participated in a party (for 50 or so?) at Olivia's Friday night that pretty much blew our minds (certainly the dancing that started around 11 and went to 2:30 in the morning.)
We depart for Marrakesh at 6:10 this evening. Once again, it's going to be tough to say goodbye to this place.
What do you do when you arrive in Paris at 5:45 a.m. (11:45 p.m. SD time)? On the plane from NYC, Steve and I figured out that this is the 10th time we've been here together. So we've had some practice with those ghastly arrival times. It helped.
Olivia's gracious guIdance also helped. After our arrival at her flat in Neuilly, she let us nap (from 9:30 to 11:30).
Then she served us a lovely lunch.
Then we walked around four five hours in glorious weather.
We were only faking sitting in the sun, but hordes of Parisians were basking in earnest.
Olivia fed us again after we got home. Now miraculously it's 9:40. We're nearly comatose, but with luck we won't be jet lagged in Paris tomorrow..