Saturday, January 15, 2011

Catching up on 2010: Ah, Paris!

On a normal day, the fast train that runs between Paris and Brussels takes a bit more than an hour to get from one capital city to the other. December 20th was not a normal day.

Very cold temperatures had interfered with proper functioning of som

e of the cars on the train. So half of them were missing by the time the train pulled in at the Brussels station, coming from Amsterdam. The problem was two-fold: our seats were on one of the missing cars, and no one on the platform knew that was the case... There were of course much people in the same predicament, running from one end of the train to the other, wondering what to make of this unexpected situation. Missing cars could

have simply meant they were going to be added while the train was sitting at the station... Quite chaotic, but remarkably typical of Belgium, in some way.

C had the good idea to just board the train wherever, and that happened to be a first class coach. By that time other folks were doing the same thing, because after all, the train had been planned to stay for only a few minutes before leaving for Paris. So here we were, standing with others in first class. Half an hour after our departure, a message finally announced passengers about the missing cars, and that the train would also be delayed since it was running less fast on those icy tracks.

The whole event made for an interesting situation, people chatting with each other, like we did with this Texan professor who was on vacation from a sabbatical in the UAE. We were standing, sitting on our suitcases, our seated fellows offering us occasionally to trade places with them. We arrived late in Paris of course, but early enough to still shop for dinner and host as planned our friends Leo and Virginie where we were staying at (Leo's sister apartment, while she was on some skiing holiday).

Paris is now the beloved home o

f one of C's favorite fashion stores, Antoine & Lili. Hence, while we were there, we naturally visited their pink/yellow/green flagship store right on the canal Saint Martin, a very scenic area in the middle of Paris. Q also enjoyed some of his favorite book stores, and an exhibit of renowned artist Jean Giraud a.k.a. Moebius.

We both liked to just walk around Paris, still one of the most enjoyable things to do. Especially when such walks lead you to get some delightful macarons from Pierre Hermé, which you can actually order online, if you don't live in Paris or Japan... These are not to die for, but to be resuscitated for ;-)

We even had some macarons left for our train ride toward Strasbourg, which we expected would also not go "as normal" since temperatures were not getting any higher as we would come closer to "France's Siberia"—as Q's grand mother liked to refer to Alsace...

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