I really took it easy today. I woke up around 9am and took my time getting out of bed. All the hiking from the last few days has taken its toll on me, and I needed a bit of a rest. I eventually got out around 10:30 and hit the road. I found another bakery down the street that sells amazing chocolate bread. The bakery hadn’t been open for the past few days, and it was nice to see the shutters up and to smell wonderful smells coming from it. This brings me to my next point. The reason almost everything was closed yesterday was because it was a national holiday in France. It had something to do with the Virgin Mary, but it was a big holiday anyway. The Franco-Muslim Butcher was open, as usual, though. I guess Franco-Muslims have little regard for the Virgin Mary.

Yesterday I had tried to go down to Pont de Lavellois the end of the Metro line but my plan was aborted because I had forgotten my pass. I didn’t forget today, so I hopped on. Lo and behold, there was a wifi hotspot in a courtyard of a business complex. Whee! Free Internet, and only two stops away from the hotel! It’s amazing how exciting that is. I still haven’t bothered to take my laptop down there yet, but I connected with my PocketPC and was able to take care of some work emails while sitting in the park. Nice!

After my free wifi session, I walked up to the bridge (the aforementioned Pont de Lavellois) and stared at the Seine for a while. It was very peaceful and quiet, away from all of the tourist hotspots. There are some really fancy houseboats tied up there. That would be a nice way to live, on a houseboat on the Seine.

Yesterday’s bus adventure was fun, so I decided to try again. I walked down to the nearest bus stop, and caught the next bus. It followed the river, and eventually diverted into a little suburb called Asnière sur Seine. Wouldn’t you know it, but this town had all kinds of convenience stores, and that was just what I could see from the bus. Eventually, I got off the bus to have a walk around. I found myself in a pretty run-down area of town, with no idea where I was. It wasn’t on my little tourist map, that’s for sure. I eventually found my way back to the bus route, and hopped on the next bus. I got off again in the centre of Asnière sur Seine to look for a place for lunch. I found a little run-down restaurant and decided to see what they could do. The items on the menu seemed pretty reasonable. I wanted the scallops, but they didn’t have any. The pepper salad looked interesting, but they didn’t have any of that either. I settled for lamb chops and a green salad. I ordered some bottled water and got a 1.5L water tower that I had to take with me when I left. The meal was inexpensive and simple. It wasn’t bad, but not great either. The lambchops were just plain grilled with nothing on them. The salad dressing was pretty uninteresting too. The only reason I mention this meal is that members of the Thom family landmark their lives with food, and that meal is the flag above Asnière sur Seine for me. I got back on the bus again and headed back to Lavellois. When I got back to my hotel, I was sleepy again, so I napped for the afternoon. This is what I love about vacations. Sleep when you’re tired, eat when you’re hungry, wake when you’re ready.
I woke up in the late afternoon and went out again. I had read about this gourmet food court in the Galleries de Lafayette. The map provided by the Galleries de Lafayette was so helpful to me in the last few days that I thought I owed them at least a visit to their food court. It was quite interesting, and kind of a primer to French food. It would have been good to go there on one of my first days, but everything has been closed for the last few days. Anyway, there were all kinds of fancy pastries, salads, meats, cheeses, soups, caviar, etc. It was kind of a neat place. I bought a small container of pesto pasta with mozzarella on top.

I hunted around the Galleries for some shoes. I knew I was in trouble when the first pair I picked up were made by Prada. I didn’t see a price tag, and didn’t bother asking. “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it” definitely applies to me. I did find a pair that I liked, but it was 130 euros. I know I can do better than that in Canada. My shoe saga continues.
After that, I met up with Nancy and Antonette (am I spelling it right yet?). We walked down to a restaurant in their neighborhood and had dinner. I had confit de canard (a roasted leg of duck) with rice and a green salad. The duck was very tasty. The glass of red wine I had was ordinary.

We called it a night pretty early tonight. They are leaving early in the morning for Barcelona, so they needed to pack and get some sleep. Good luck on the rest of your travel, guys, if you’re reading this.

Anyway, now I’m back. Since I didn’t have a lot to say today, I thought I’d respond to some of the great journal comments.

Diny and Manyk, I’ve got lots of time here, so I can take my time with the photo-making process. I really need to cover a lot of ground to scout this place out, and hauling 15-20 lbs. of camera gear through the rain for 16 hours per day would make it nearly impossible, especially when for the bulk of the day the light is completely unsuitable for photography. Now that I know the city better, I can go back to the places I want to photograph at the right time of day, and won’t wear myself out… too much. Also, the first day, the rain would have easily soaked through my camera bag. It’s good enough for a rain shower or two, but there’s no way it would withstand three or four hours of continuous downpour. Even my nylon jacket was like a soaking towel by the time I peeled it off.

Manyk, I won’t get sick from the food here. Food is my friend! It’s extreme environmental conditions that wipe me out, and this place has neither 40 degree C temperatures nor 6000ft. altitudes to put the hurt on me 😀

Diny, it’s easy to navigate the bus system here. Every bus station has a route map and a schedule. The maps show where the bus route intersects with the Metro and RER lines. I am getting to know where most of the major Metro stops are, so the bus routes are fitting into place nicely on my mental map. Also, because I don’t have to be anywhere at any particular time, I don’t mind being lost. To me, half the fun of being in a new place is getting lost and then getting un-lost. Challenge and reward.

Bro, thanks for the phone tips. I’ll keep them in mind.

Maggie, the food here really is as good as you remember it. You should come back!
Olya, je peut écrire en français, mais mon père ne comprendrait pas. Il connait seul deux mots françaises: “Chevrolet coupé” Haha and yes, I know I mess up a lot of the French that sounds so good in my head. My first indication is the blank look French people give me when I talk to them.

Anyway, that’s all for today. Tomorrow I need a new Metro pass because mine is expired now. I’m also going to visit the inside of some of these museums. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so it seems ideal for a museum day. I plan to visit the Louvre, D’Orsay, and the European Museum of Photography. A demain!