Subject: Day 4 in Paris
Thursday, July 22 On My Own

Being close up to a sparkling Eiffel Tower last night is the most spectacular thing I have ever seen! I just can#t stop thinking of it. I#ve got to take Michelle on the Bateaux Mouches in the evening next year when we go back to Paris. The cruise lasted an hour and costs 7 euros. One of the best bargains in Paris, especially since I paid 7.40 euros for just a sorbet!

Today I#m on my own, and I#m going to take the Metro -- alone for the first time -- down to the quai (Chatelet) on line 4. I need to walk east about 2 or 3 more bridges to Pont d#Alcore to cross over to Ile de la Cite. That t-shirt is somewhere on the rue when you get to the island. Then I#ll cross back over and walk back up to Pont Neuf and La Samaritaine. I#ll wait to see the view from the roof until next year, but I want to see if they have clip-on sunglasses and whatever else. Then I#ll continue walking up the quais to see La Plage up close.

At 3 (to 5) p.m. is a get-together of American ex-pats and visitors to Paris (Club Metropole) at a café called the Corona Tabac. It should be easy to find, as it#s right on the corner of the quai and the rue that runs next to the east end of the extensive grounds and groups of buildings that make up the Louvre.

Whew, I am bushed! It is now 2 p.m., and I have been out and on my feet for 3 hours. My right leg (the one I broke last year) started aching, so I figured it was time to go back to the hotel and rest before going to the Club Metropole meeting.

It wasn#t too bad learning how to use the Metro this morning. The main entrance closest to the hotel is about 2 blocks down Sebastopol in front of the Monoprix. There#s another entrance/exit right at the park across the way, but you have to already have your tickets. I decided to get off at Chatelet, even though I had been warned about it being very confusing, as it was closest to where I wanted to go. Also, you can catch several lines there, including the #1 that goes up rue de Rivoli and by the Louvre. No more expensive taxis for me! I had no problem leaving the station except that I was surrounded by buildings, so I had to ask someone where the quai was. I memorized and wrote down how to get back to the Metro stairs, and headed to the Seine.

It#s so beautiful along the Seine, and I took photos of La Plage and the lovely buildings on both sides of the river. I stopped at a bouquiniste on the quai and bought a beautiful oil-on-canvas painting of a Paris scene; also, post cards, 3 prints of old posters, a beret, and 3 magnets.

Luckily, I remembered that Pont d#Arcole was the last bridge (before Ile St. Louis) over to Ile de la Cite, as it wasn#t marked. I checked all the souvenir shops on rue d#Arcole up to Notre Dame and found the t-shirt in the last shop! I was so happy, and I know Michelle will be, too. I couldn#t remember exactly what the shirt said, but as soon as I saw one, I knew that was the one Madame#s husband had worn. It has the words, #Comment vous sente-vous aujourd#hui?# (#How do you feel today?#) Then there are 6 rows of 6 faces, each of which has different facial expressions. Under each face is a word in French describing the expression, like #coquin# (sexy, or naughty). It is so cute!

Along the way, I had picked up other souvenirs and presents, including a very nice, large, black tote bag in which to carry my other purchases, especially the large cardboard tube my painting is in, even though it sticks out at one end! The bag is zippered and has on it, embroidered in green and yellow, a street sign for #Avenue des Champs Elysees, 8th Arrt,# and then #Paris# underneath. It also has a golden Eiffel Tower and the word #Paris# hanging from a short golden chain. And it was only 8 euros.

Other things I got included a t-shirt of the Metro plan, a calendar, a small Parisian #painting# on it#s own easel, a chef#s hat for Madame, and a very nice print of a painting of Notre Dame plus a Tour de France t-shirt for Greg.

When I was done, I walked back over the pont, but I was too tired to go to La Samaritaine, so I took the Metro back to the hotel. It was a little more difficult finding the correct corridor inside the station for line #4, as there aren#t enough signs. I only had to ask for directions once, though. Well, I#d better get ready to go out again.

It is now almost 7:30 p.m., and I#ve been back an hour. When I entered the room, I turned on the a/c, took off my clothes, and collapsed on the bed. I was really close to heat exhaustion, as it#s a warm, humid day (it was 81 F.), and there#s no a/c anywhere. Outside was fine, but first I went to the Club Metropole meeting. It was warm inside the café, and I ordered a dish of strawberry (and lemon) sorbet, like Kathy had done, to try to get cool -- 7.40 euros! Rick was there as well; a guy from New York called Lucky; and a couple from Florida. It was okay, and Rick kept taking notes for his report on the Internet. He also took a photo of all of us. It ended at 5 p.m., and I was glad to get outside. I then walked to La Samaritaine and, though they had a wall of sunglasses, they didn#t have clip-ons. I had asked Rick at the café, and he said I#d have to go to an optical store. There#s probably one at Forum des Halles, where I#m going tomorrow.

I was disappointed with La Samaritaine, and there was no a/c; so I was getting very warm and sweaty and didn#t enjoy looking around, especially since I didn#t care for anything there -- cheap-looking, gaudy clothes with high prices. I was so uncomfortable that I only went as far as the 3rd level and then left. When I got outside, I welcomed the fresh air. It was raining, but it felt good. It reminded me of the Hawaiian islands with its off and on light, warm showers.

I got to the Chatelet station, and it was really crowded with people rushing everywhere. I almost got knocked down by two men, one on each side of me, who banged into each of my shoulders as they rushed past from the opposite direction. I had to catch my balance before I could continue walking. (By the way, this time the station was having concert music by three people with string instruments. When I had first arrived at the station in the morning and got off the train, I heard #Hava Nagileh# playing. As I walked to the exit, I saw it was an accordion player and a tuba player. They were very good.)

The train back to the hotel was so crowded and hot, I thought I was going to pass out. As soon as I got off, I felt a rush of cool air, and it felt so good. I was very tired, with a red, hot face, though, and I barely made it back to the hotel. I feel recovered now, so I think I#ll walk up to St. Denis to the McDonald#s and get something to eat.

Back again. McDonald#s was easy to find. It#s just about two full blocks up Sebastopol in the other direction from the Seine. And around the corner on St. Denis is another Monoprix. I had a Croque McDo, like Michelle practically lived on last year, and it wasn#t bad. It only cost 1.50 euros.

I went into the Monoprix next door and saw it was smaller than the other one, but much nicer. It#s clean and neatly arranged like a store should be. I bought a pink floppy hat on sale for 2.47 euros. This store is more like the one Michelle described near the Opera, as the grocery store is on the first floor, and the other stuff is upstairs.

I#m going to watch #Amadeus# on the portable DVD player I brought with me, and then off to bed. Tomorrow is Les Halles.

Diana San Diego, California