Monday, February 22, 2016

Paris - The Non-Plan

I have been "walking" Google maps street view ad nauseum.  My wife says "are you STILL looking at maps?"  Well, yeah, I am.

But I did set an arbitrary (and TOTALLY fuzzy) limit of the end of last week, then prioritize them so that I can set some sort of itinerary.  Yes, I am a silly, silly little man.  (Kelly, I hate you for that appellation.)

But the reality is that, for me (and by extension reality for ALL THE WORLD,) when you go somewhere both special and mythological, forget about the tour guides and "common knowledge" ... those guidelines are co-opted by two groups.

  1. The local office(s) of tourism - these are designed to extract the maximum amount of cash for the least amount of cultural enrichment.
  2. American/British (UK) tourism "experts", such as Rick Steves, who want to sell you something -- whether it's the latest in luggage or local, grubby souvenir vendor that takes advantage of American/western, glazed eye jet lag
I've tagged a whole bunch of sites, mainly cafés, bistros and hang-outs that promise to NOT be populated with tourists.  OK, some of them WILL BE no matter my effort.  But I will try and sit far away from them.

My son will likely be leaving his first floor sub-let this year.  Someone will need to take up that lease, right?  I mean ... 

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Paris - Developing a Travel Plan

Those who know me personally may understand another reason I have been apprehensive about making an epic journey.  One would think that with a pretty solid foundation in French it would be a no-brainer.  (I heard what you're thinking, Roger!)

Time out for a little story ... my first father-in-law, Samuel Barnston Hunter Smeaton (aka Barnie Smeaton) was a linguist.  (That gene obviously passed to my children.)  If my memory is accurate he spoke about seven languages fluently and could read and write in quite a few more.  His speciality was lexicography, and for several years he was an editor for a major English language dictionary.

My mother-in-law, Rita Smeaton (née Burwell) would never travel overseas.  Because she "didn't speak the language," even with a translator as companion.  Sigh.  I loved her (RIP) but I didn't want to repeat to that mistake borne of irrational fear.

With rusty French there is some language fear, but not that much.  The nagging doubts were more about mobility and stamina - I  mentioned this issue before.

But once I took the plunge, my thoughts turned to both itinerary (too much to see - must be selective!) and the logistics of travel.  The latter weighed on me.  As in I want to travel as lightly as possible.

The luxury I have is lodging, so here is my strategy.

I will travel to Paris with the clothes on my back, a carryon containing my cameras, minimal toiletries and maybe one change of clothing.  The latter two are for the unlikely eventuality of being stuck some where in transit.  That's it.  What?

I will ship additional clothing ahead.  Yes, I could check one bag at no charge, but then I have to schlep it.  With mobility assistance at each airport, this would not be an issue.  But then there's transport from De Gaulle  (CDG) to my son's apartment.  I want to carry/handle as little as possible.

I will ship the rest of my clothing ahead of time.  Most of what I ship will be articles I can dispose of before I leave, older articles that I no longer need or care about.  Toiletries?  There's a pharmacy steps away from the apartment; I can buy travel sizes for use during my stay.

There is a Lomography shop a 4-5 minute walk from the apartment.  For my film needs I will buy film there - probably Ilford XP2, which can easily be developed  during my trip (it's a C41/colour negative process film that produces black and white negatives) so I don't have to worry film going through multiple X-Ray inspections.  And yes I will have a digital camera with me (along with my iPhone 6s,) but nothing beats a pure, analog manual camera.  What would Cartier-Bresson do?

This will leave me with a nearly empty bag for the return voyage.  Can you say du vin et chocolat?

Bien sur/I thought you could.