France is broken

The past 28 or so hours in Paris have been… unusual. I am sitting in a dark hallway, because the lights in the hotel are on a timer and only stay on in the hall for about a minute. We’re having a problem with electricity. We’re not sure how it happened, but either my new travel adapter blew a fuse and caused a surge that burnt out M’s phone charger OR something in the hotel wiring keeps causing a fuse to blow in our room. The only electronic items we have our his iPhone 4, my borrowed iPhone 5c (left the six at home), an old French cell phone and my two year old MacBook Air.

I am sitting in the hall because I have blown a fuse for the second time and we’re trying to determine what works, what doesn’t and what caused the problem. We’re also too embarrassed to alert the front desk (just in case we did it). So I am on the floor in the hall. Funny part is, that being in the hall in the dark isn’t even the end of the story. I tried to move into a lit area of the hall and realized if I move even a fraction of an inch, everything falls out of the wall and I lose connection. And it’s not easy to get everything plugged in again.

I won’t mention the name of the hotel, because it is a decent place and I don’t want you to think it’s their fault. I don’t know whose fault it is. The toilet doesn’t flush very well. The coffee was fairly terrible but hey, it was reasonably priced in Paris and has wifi. M had some intestinal difficulties so all in all I think France is turning out more Third World than Djibouti last year.

So, we went to the catacombs last night. After 17+ hours in transit. I had a fancy blog entry planned but then I blew that fuse. Instead we used the power remaining in my laptop to charge our phones. And I was exhausted.

But the catacombs were amazing. I didn’t realize that the bones were so artfully and carefully arranged, nor that they were piled and labeled by the cemetery of origin. Saint Nicholas de Champs was one of the first heaps.


We walked about two miles looking at bones. For dinner we visited our favorite shawarma place and had ourselves in bed by nine. I had a delightful night’s sleep, even despite my daughter accidentally texting me at 3 a.m. Paris time thinking she was texting her father. After all, we did switch phones.

Breakfast here at the hotel. Followed by a trip to some pharmacies looking for a medical device for migraines that is supposed to be available here in France, then a stop at an internet café while we waited for the mall at Les Halles to open. At Les Halles, we ended up taking the train from one side of the station to the mall because with construction we could not find the right door.

I wanted to go to FNAC for French military history books. Bought a memoir of one French soldier’s experience in Afghanistan. We finally made it to the sewers, which were a bit of a disappointment because M remembered them being more. But he was young the last time he visited. (I might be thankful they were a disappointment. I don’t share M’s passion for poop.) From there we went to the museum of the French Health Services (Service de Santé des Armées). That was so fun. Hopefully more on some of these individual events later.


Then we visited some Muslim bookstores. And it made me want to increase my hijab accessories. And visiting the more multicultural sections of Paris makes me want an African dress.

The church above is Saint Denis. We went out there and the area had a very diverse feel and reminded me a lot of Marseille. There were many women covered. Churros for sale in front of the post office. We searched the area and found M his dream man purse but he’s too cheap and uncertain to buy it. Eventually, we decided to go for coffee and I found a cheap coffee house. It was 2.50 euros for a coffee cream. The server was a woman of color, the men beside us drank espresso and spoke arabic. The discarded wrappers from sugar packets littered the floor. Some men exited the tram outside and the server automatically placed their coffee on the counter. The whole area had the atmosphere of a street fair.

We walked a total of 11.25 miles so far today and we have dinner yet to go…