February 2015

Friday, February 27, 2015

Running A Fowl at Square du Temple

Paris wildlife
Show off...

Ever since last year’s World Cup, Paris has had a very odd couple living in one of its parks. The Square du Temple, in the upper Marais, just south of Place de la République, is green space dedicated to playing children, summertime sunbathers, and bench lovers. Man I love a good bench.

But after the World Cup, allegedly, a local who had purchased a rooster, France’s team mascot, let the bird loose in park. Later, feeling sorry for the lonesome fowl, someone bought him a hen, according to an old Frenchman who explained this to me a few months ago while I was staring at the birds.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Budapest: The Paris of the East

Parliament from across the Danube...
The so-called Paris of the East, the Hungarian capital made for a wonderful February escape. Though temperatures were no warmer than in Paris, sunshine and cheap prices (1 euro = 305 forints) more than made up for the cold.

We spent three nights wandering, eating, caffeinating, and generally soaking up the vibe of this city that I hardly knew at all. It’s in eastern Europe, so generally themes of destruction during World War 2, communism, and populist uprisings were in there somewhere. I also had the keywords "thermal baths" and "paprika" in mind, but other than a few quick Google searches, I let fate guide us (along with the recommendations of a few reliable friends).

The result? An experience well-beyond my expectations and hardly a dent in my Parisian wallet.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Monkeying Around in Paris

Paris wildlife
A new friend....
Target practice? Oh, tranquilizer darts...

How many orangutans have you met in Paris? It’s a question we ask ourselves almost every day, and finally, I can stand up and say, proudly, “I’ve met two, yes two orangutans in Paris.”

During last week’s event, “Paris Face Cachée,” Paris showed its hidden sides. I’d ignored this event before because, like all major events, they draw crowds. And I hate crowds. I will only voluntarily join thousands of people in the street when we can run 26 miles and eat bananas for hours (yes, the marathon is coming up in April, and I’m prepping).

But for whatever reason this year I clicked on the program to see what was happening, and decided to join a backstage tour of the Menagerie, the little zoo in the Jardin des Plantes. It was on a Friday afternoon after my class, conveniently up the street from the zoo, so I paid 30 euros for two tickets, and I dragged my partner in crime (as well as sanctioned, legal events) to the zoo’s entrance. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Living History in the Marais: An Encounter

Paris Marais district
Marais-scape...you  never know who you'll meet...

Paris miracles. They do happen.

I was walking along rue Rambuteau in the Marais, showing some tourists the many pastry shops, trying to convince them that they needed more sugar. They had hit their limit. Oh well.

One of them stopped in front of an Asian restaurant – one of those traiteurs with lots of choices – and asked what they served. He realized pretty quickly, so we were about to move on when an older Frenchman stopped us. He was impeccably dressed, with piercing eyes to match his baby blue scarf.

“Are you American?” he asked?

I thought we were about to be berated for looking at the Asian food.