View from Montparnasse Tower (2013)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Day 11

It's hard to believe that we leave for home a week from today...we don't like to think about it.

We got a fairly early (for us) start this morning and rode the #38 bus up to Gare du Nord, transferred to the #26, and got off at the top of the Canal St. Martin.  The canal was built in the early 19th century to bring fresh water down to Paris.  You can take a 2-hour boat cruise up the canal, walk the length of it, or ride the bus or Metro to a point, stroll a bit of it, then move on, which is what we did.  Actually, we strolled along the Bassin de la Villette, which is above the canal.  We watched a boat go through one of the locks (there are 9 of them, which explains why it takes 2 hours to cruise through it.  We walked up one side of the bassin, crossed over a bridge and walked down the other side.  There were several rowers out. It looked like they might have been practicing for a race because it appeared there was a coach out there shouting directions to them.

We went into McDonalds for the first time today.  When we walked in the door, an old gentleman took one look at us, pointed upwards, and said "toilettes."  I wonder how he knew why we were there...  We had to go up to the 3rd floor (2nd in France - still the same number of steps) to get there.  We actually bought a frappe, which in France is more like a milkshake than a smoothie, but it was small and pretty good.

We got back on the #26 and got off at Place Gambetta, which I think is one of the prettiest traffic circles in Paris with a modern fountain in the center, lots of shops and cafes around it, and the Mairie for the 20th Arrondissement on one side.  In Paris, the Hotel de Ville is the city hall for the City of Paris, but each of the 20 arrondissements (districts) also has its own city hall, which is called the mairie.  We stopped at Cafe Gambetta for lunch and had really good caesar salads.  These are not much like the caesar salads we are used to -- the French has sort of recreated them -- but they are very good with chicken, tomato, hard boiled egg, and slices of Parmesan cheese.

After lunch we walked over to Pere Lachaise Cemetery, which is named for the confessor of Louis XIV.  It was built in the mid 1700s when the area was the hinder lands outside of Paris.  In the early 19th century, the remains of several famous people were moved to the cemetery to make it more popular because Parisians thought it was too far out of the city. There is space for 70,000 burial places and people are still being buried there.  Unfortunately, Kathy and I didn't have a map, so just wandered around without seeing any of the famous tombs.  The cemetery is very crowded with interesting structures on the graves.  Some look like little houses, some have stained glass, others have statues.  Some of the statues reflect the person's sense of humor or other characteristic.  The cemetery is built on the side of hill.  We started at the top and kept walking downward toward the main entrance.  We rode the #69 bus, getting off on Rue de Rivoli and walked up Rue St. Martin (our street) about five blocks to the apartment.  One the way we stopped at Amorino for dessert and at the G20 super market for supplies.

We are having dinner at a little restaurant down on the corner.  We walked by one time and what we saw people eating looked pretty good.  Update: The restaurant, MG Road is very good.  The food is French with Indian flavors.  I had duck with a curry sauce and polenta.  The sauce was quite spicy.  Kathy had salmon with mashed potatoes - the salmon was cooked a little too rare for her.  My duck was cooked medium and was perfect; however, the menu indicated "rare" so I asked to have it cooked a little more.  For dessert we shared some Indian ice cream flavored with cardamon and drizzled with caramel.  Our waitress was really cute and spoke excellent English.  She's a student working on a masters degree in finance.  She spent quite a lot of time taking to us.  It was a very enjoyable dinner.

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