I have spent more time in Paris than in any other European city. I have been there 4 times, including one winter in 1998 which was my first ever trip abroad as a young consultant. I have always been pleasantly surprised by the city, and have never felt the rudeness that is attributed to the French.
I booked a train ticket from Augsburg to Paris, and was a little apprehensive about the 5 minute connection time in Stuttgart between the ICE and TGV. (Observation : when the ICE train came to the platform in Augsburg, I saw the driver. He was the poster boy of german efficiency, standing straight, no smile, eyes straight as he bought the train to a stop within 13 seconds of the expected arrival time) . Anyway, i think i should have know, the ICE arrived at the exact time in Stuttgart, and even the coaches were lined up so all i had to do was just step across the platform to the TGV. This was the "TGV Est", the pride of the French railway system, with top speeds going up to 320 km/hr on normal routes (It has been run upto 350 km/hr on tests). So there Dani, it does beat the ICE in some sense !! Traveled through some amazing scenery, which i tried to capture on the camera, with very disappointing results.
Reached Delphine's house, which i found is right next to the Moulin Rouge. And the "La Loco", which is a club i went to, the second time i was in paris, in mid 1999. Used to be a really grungy club at that time, with great music. Now, just like any other snooty club. I also found out that the strip club section in Paris is also right there (Got the hint the first time a woman on the street tried to talk to me and pull me in. They are very aggressive in their marketing, the French).
Her place is on what she calls the "food street of Paris", with great cafes and food shops. And has great views, mostly from the staircase !!
Some street festival in her "Rue"
Foodwise, i was trying to eat a little healthy, which meant switching from "litres of beer" to "bottles of wine" as the unit of consumption. (Observation : There is so much style associated with smoking in Europe. Which is probably the reason they smoke so much. This was at the sight of a woman sitting at a cafe, holding a Marlene Dietrich like pose with a cigarette in her hand).
Had an excellent french meal on Friday evening with Deplhine, Dorothy and Tibo. In an area which is mostly a student hangout, and as Delphine likes to point out, where she used to go all the time as a student. Had an option to go to Rolland Garros the next day, but nixed it in favor of a relaxing time with the sisters.
On saturday, walked down to the latin quarter (passing the river on the way). Bought back many memories of the 2006 summer that I spent there. Had mint tea at the great mosque, and then went to see "Darjeeling Limited", another one of Wes Anderson's great works. And noticed TP Abid in the credit lines. The first part of the movie, and Jason Shwarzman's dialogue with Natalie Portman, is just priceless.
Delphine had a big dinner planned to that night at her house, so the evening was spent prepping for that. An excellent 5 course meal was had, with about 3 bottles of wine consumed. And as wonders never cease, Delphine actually asked for a second helping of the beer, and then two (yes) glasses of wine. We talked till 3 AM, when I realized that I had a 8.24 am train to catch.
Woke up next morning with the alarm at 7.00. Snoozed will 7.30. Realized that i was supposed to be OUT of the house at 7.30. Managed to leave the house at 8.00. Now I realized that I had NO subway map, very little change, and very little money overall. So taking a taxi was also not an option. But I did manage to dig into the deepest pockets in my bag and discover just enough Euros to pay the 1.50 fare.
Was very very lucky to catch both my subway connections. The right ones too. Reached the station still drunk, but did manage to get on. Will this ever end ? The entire melodrama of trying to catch an early morning train/flight after a long night of drinking ? I hope not !!
And I was off to Zurich.