We are sitting in our Paris flat overlooking the city from the 8th floor, gazing upon Sacre Coeur just a little over a mile away. We are sitting … and waiting for the building concierge and a tech from d’Orange, the internet provider, to come back and fix our internet … and our host’s mother, Bernadette, to return from the store with information on a new mattress: after several uncomfortable nights, we discover that ours is broken, literally in half, and unsleepable. And no, WE did not break it.
Now you may think this is a horrible thing to deal with while traveling or on vacation, but haven’t you had similar things go whacky in your own home? Once again, we are not on vacation but Living Creatively … and this is part of the creativity … stuff happens. And … we don’t have to pay for repairs. So, we got that going for us. More details in a moment.
It only took one tram, one train, two metros, and a walk across the street to get to our Paris flat, which we had booked for a month. Although this may sound complicated, it was one of our more fluent travels. When we got here, Bernadette explained how everything worked and then answered any questions we had. She is a very expressive, charming, hip French lady who speaks English punctuated with a plethora of French sounds that are reminiscent of a leaky bike tire or the motor boat sounds you make to entertain infants. Always entertaining. She even had two croissants waiting for us. C’est Bon!
Our host, Arno, currently works and lives in New York. He has been very responsive to Marsha’s texts. We really like our place but the lack of internet and an unusable bed are deal breakers. Arno, on his own, contacted Airbnb on our behalf. They called Marsha within the hour to verify our challenges and gave us some workable options. We would really like to stay here and not have to move, especially with all the groceries we’ve purchased, to another flat. This flat is nice and the view is spectacular. Here is a cropped image of Sacre Coeur as seen from our window.
The street in front of our building has a six-block-long, open-air street market on Tuesdays and Fridays. It is big, noisy, and full of activity. We braved the congested mob and bought some provisions. I still don’t enjoy being run into by crowds, even after all these years of hockey. Now if I had my stick with me …
We have already visited two Christmas markets. There are over a dozen different Christmas Markets throughout Paris. We’ll enjoy as many as we can get to in the next few days. At our second market, Marsha found perfect French gifts for the grandkids. The next day we got in line with the other Parisians at the post office and sent the package on its way to Colorado, which cost more than the value of the gifts.
After one city outing we returned to the Seine River and one of our favorite places we discovered in June, The Great Canadian Pub. As you can imagine, the décor was all hockey … tastefully done with jerseys, sticks, and photographs; the usual classy ambience one would expect. Although there was no hockey on the TVs, we enjoyed Happy Hour and a hearty dinner.
Due to inclement weather and this week’s flat challenge, I was unable to take any images, so I will have random Paris photos from June posted throughout. Like this one:
Some Fun Facts:
In many of the train stations throughout Europe, there have been pianos available for anyone to play. We have appreciated such renderings as Chopsticks, Claire de Lune, unknown improvisations, and now Christmas songs, occasionally accompanied by singers. It’s a nice touch for those who might be weary from traveling.
I must look very French. Wherever we go in France, I am continuously being asked questions by locals. I don’t know if is my hat or scarf or my general sophisticated aura. They come right up to me and just start talking away. I reluctantly respond, “Sorry, Anglais.” Some give a playful laugh and walk away while others give me an accusatory glare, as if I am up to no good.
Almost every city and village we have experienced has at least one carousel. Larger cities can have several. Some are very old and creaky looking; others are all shiny and modern. When night falls, kids can be found on these well-lit, colorful, and musical rides enjoying a few moments of glee.
Question: What two foods would you expect to be universal in Europe? Answer: Pizza and gelato. There has not been one tiny hamlet, community, or large city without these two staples of the good life. Although the gelato can be somewhat seasonal, there are signs of its popularity even in winter. We have been forced to partake on occasion. Being seasoned travelers, we are willing to make this kind of unselfish sacrifice when necessary. The varieties of pizza are directly connected to their locale. Near the Mediterranean; anchovies, calamari, and other seafood find their way onto the doughy disc. Some are void of cheese, while others have several assortments of cheese and cheese-like products. Ham is, by far, the go-to topping. A few times we have ordered one pizza to split between us and were greeted with quizzical looks from our waiters. One pizza has always been enough for a quick lunch break … but we may have been considered fairly barbaric by some. A humorous line we first heard in the deep south comes to mind: “Y’all aren’t from around here, are you?” Nope, but we’re trying.
Back to “So … that Happened.”
Here is a blow by blow of our most recent adventure:
6:00 Discovered our mattress was broken. It actually folded in half; usually not a good sign.
13:00 Building workers knock out the internet
We contact Arno in New York who then contacts Airbnb in California. We are still in Paris. Airbnb calls Marsha and sends other flat options, which we can’t access because we have no internet.
9:00 Bernadette, the building concierge, and a tech spend a few hours playing with all the boxes and connections for the TV and internet. The internet is unfixable of course because the building workers have killed it. This doesn’t translate as easily as you might think.
11:00 Bernadette walks a few blocks to the Conforama Store to inquire about a new mattress. Nothing can be delivered until after the New Year.
12:00 Arno texts us to say the internet cannot be addressed until after the New Year. We are sensing a theme here.
13:00 Marsha contacts the Airbnb helpdesk and talks again with our designated helper. She sends another list of possible flats in Paris within our budget.
15:00 With no internet in the flat, we brave the cold rain and find an empty table at our local MacDonald’s to use their WiFi. The guy right next to us is talking way too loudly on his phone, set to speaker-phone, which is blasting back a crying baby. This is not a good stress reliever. Our search does not bring up anything yet. We prefer using our computer versus our phones, but hey, this is all part of the adventure. It gets dark so we head back to our broken mattress and broken internet flat for one more night.
6:00 We start flat searching again. Some don’t respond, others are very questionable, one looks good.
11:00 Marsha secures a new place for a substantial reduction, although still way too expensive, but we have to move.
13:30 Our current host refunds the entire monthly amount even though we have stayed a week. The Airbnb helper said Arno felt really bad for us and decided to refund the entire amount. Very generous of him.
14:00 We give the keys back to Bernadette and take an €8 Uber to our new flat. We sneak into the lobby to wait.
15:00 Since the host is unable to meet us, he sends his friends to let us in and explain how everything works. They are a very nice, young family with a small son in tow. Communicating was somewhat different this time. This nice, helpful family is Russian. So … there is a mixed volley of Russian, French, and English being tossed back and forth. Marsha breaks out her handy Google Translate App and we make it through.
We are now in our new and much pricier flat. It’s nice, very large, Ikea-laden, and much closer to the Seine. We are looking forward to getting out and exploring our new neighborhood. Hopefully we will be in this flat until January 9th, when we fly out to Madrid.
NEW WEEKLY MAP
The featured image is from Marsha. It is a Google Map that has been tracking us during our Great Adventure. I’ll be using this on the right side of the home page of our site from now on. The other maps were getting too cluttered.
NEW WEB PAGE
Several of you have expressed interest in seeing what our different flats look like. So, with that in mind, I’ve added a new page to our website: Lodging. Simply go to www.boomerreloading.com and click on the Lodging tab on the top navigational bar.
This week’s flat can be seen by clicking on the bed image below.
Invite your friends and family to join the fun by subscribing to the Stowaway Newsletter on our site. Just click the open Steamer Trunk on the Homepage.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Preston & Marsha
Don’t Retire: Reload – Groovin’ on the Flip Side