Goodbye, Paris. Hello, Moscow.

Our traveling companion M took us on a walk through Barbès where my daughter made some French/Algerian friends in one of the shops. The people there tried to get her to speech French and Arabic and gave her a piece of candy. She noted the difference between standard touristy Paris and the so-called immigrant presence in the outer districts, seeing Africans and Arabs. I use the term so-called immigrants because of how the French consider even second generation citizens “immigrants.”

We walked up to Sacre Ceour. Lil Miss didn’t realize it was on the top of a hill. She just thought it was tall. But she was a trooper walking up the hill. And M showed her the Eiffel Tower in the distance.We wandered half way down the hill and she spotted the funicular. We had a metro ticket for the day so we actually walked back UP to Sacre Ceour and rode the funicular down.

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Funicular to Sacre Couer

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View from Sacre Coeur

Dinner was at Le Magenta, another place where I have eaten before. I ordered a two course meal for each of us, with Lil Miss trying to overcome her fear of using French words. I suggested the restaurant based on past experience and as soon as she saw they served escargot she was in.  She ordered six escargot in a bourgogne sauce. In the photo, she looks a tad intimidated but in reality she was merely focused on getting those snails out of their shells. I asked her why she liked them and she said it was because she loved getting them out of their shells. I suppose she’s like a cat and needs to play with her food.

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She also had a duck thigh which came artfully arranged on potato wedges and slivers of tomatoes that resembled flower petals.

The walk back to the hotel was exhausting, not because it was far but because of the jet lag and the nine miles we had walked. Lil Miss showered, collapsed into bed. In the morning, we were on the RER early returning to CDG-Roissy.

In the Air France lounge, Lil Miss made an amazing discovery. 1. She LIKES croissants. She has insisted for years that she doesn’t like plain croissant. I have countered, for years, that it’s because she hasn’t tasted one in France.

She ate five or six plain croissants and two pain au chocolat. She also learned how to read French jam labels, though she thought the “orange” was orange marmalade and it turned out to be bitter orange. An adjective makes a big difference.

IMG_3928.JPGThe plane from Paris to Moscow was on an Airbus A318, a big change from the Boeing 777. I discovered this morning a lovely note from the TSA that apparently gave my bag a check before it left the States. Not that I noticed.

We navigated the Moscow airport with no problem and child kept trying to compliment the female customs agent on her pretty eye makeup. Overall, she’s a good kid but we’re working on NOT spurting out every thought in her head to the entire universe.

We even navigated the Moscow subway. The majestic tunnels, architecture and details in the stations. Every train looks completely different. Some old, some new. Very colorful.

We had Russian-style beef dumplings with a butter and sour cream sauce for dinner in a little restaurant off Red Square where to Lil Miss’s delight they had American music videos playing. Calvin Harris and the Disciples: “How Deep is Your Love?”

Child compared Moscow to an urban New York feel. Paris seems smaller and offers more recreation. She thought Moscow was more exotic while Paris felt more like an American town.

And the best so far–

“All I know about Russia is what I see on CNN and they don’t have nice things to say.”

That’s my baby. Now when you go back to school, set them straight.

 

 

AF 0668 into Djibouti

I left France so exhausted I went to sleep as soon as the plane took off. My rest for the first couple days of this trip has consisted of nothing but one hour naps. I think I dozed for about 3 hours, on and off, on the plane.

  
I skipped dinner, having filled up on cheese, chocolate and apple tart in the airport lounge (which I washed down with a small serving of port). M and I were both concerned that the airline food did not agree with our digestive systems.

On the flight from DC to Paris, we had the  seats in the front of premium economy. Despite the extra leg room and lack of proximity of other people, I found the arrangement difficult. 

We sat in the last row of premium economy this time and felt I had an endless array of ways to wedge my body around the seat and window.

  
I also got out my music. I hoped it would help since music is often an important part of my wind down ritual at home. All or some of these things may have contributed to my success at a longer nap.

I woke up and went back to “cattle class” to use the toilet, get a drink and stretch my legs. That was when I noticed so many families and babies hanging everywhere. I often joke that the back of the plane resembles a refugee camp. This one, between the fullness, the children, and the clothing strewn about, might have qualified for some sort of UN-sponsored humanitarian aid.

The plane also featured a lot of French and American military personnel. The main difference between the American and the French people seems to be the fit of their clothes. The French wear tighter clothes.

I woke over the Nile Valley. I glanced out the window and saw the brightest lights and thought to myself, “that looks like Orion.” I didn’t have my glasses and reached for them, sure enough confirming the gorgeous night sky and the crispness of the winter constellations.

  
I witnessed the pale blue, orange and pink stratification of sunrise in a similar fashion.

Coming off the plane, the biggest shock was the mid-80 degree F temperature, the breeze and the 60-something percent humidity. The weather is perfect.

Because the plane was so full, the baggage claim was a riotous mess of people pushing and shoving.

All and all, a nice flight.

Arrival in CDG

I have a love-hate relationship with flying. I love packing my suitcase. I love airplanes. I love the airport lounges. I love the physics of take-off. I love the first four hours in the air. Then, my ears clog. My butt hurts. I realize I can’t sleep. I have slime on my face. The plane always seems cold and the dinner gross.

That’s me at 12:30 a.m. my local time, after 6+ hours on the plane and only a one-hour nap after rising at 4 a.m. to start my traveling. And the other photo is my first plate of croissants in the CDG arrivals lounge. I grabbed the last pain au chocolat.

My travel companionIMG_7487, M, and I spent yesterday in his apartment in D.C., catching up while he packed. We had lunch at the nearby Cava. My pita had braised lamb.

We headed to Dulles Airport by bus-metro-bus and flew out on a Boeing 777-330 in premium economy.

Despite a rather disappointing dinner, only getting to watch one-third of the Little Prince movie and an episode where I nearly took out a flight attendant with projectile applesauce, I suppose it was a nice flight.

I normally have issues with my ears when flying and this time was no exception. My left ear is clogged severely and both ears gave me pain and discomfort during landing and even while on the ground. Let’s hope it clears up quickly.

It’s 9:15 a.m. Paris time, 3:15 a.m. Pennsylvania time. We hope our hotel will let us into our room early. M booked a room for the day so we can nap. Our flight to Djibouti leaves at 12:30 a.m. tonight and we have no plans for Paris other than to relax and run errands.