Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Day 34: Pensive in Paris

I don't know if it is the realization that my grand adventure is coming to a close, or if 5 days living in Paris has lulled me into thinking I live here, but I'm tired of museums, lines and taking pictures.

I slowly woke, took my time making breakfast, packed my back pack in preparation for leaving tomorrow. As uncomfortable as an apartment can be without AC, a musty and dusty loft bedroom, and a tiny shower that has a temperamental hot water knob, this place was home.

I had planned to visit the Musee D'Orsay but when I got there, two long lines had already formed and in the hot sun of noon, I just did not have the patience to wait. I returned to the metro and went to the Eiffel Tower. It was a glorious day, but again, I didn't not want to wait.

Instead, I went to the river Seine to catch a boat ride. It was just an hour long but why not? I also had the chance to try a "French Donut" looks suspiciously like a cronut but I added powdered sugar. How apropos, on the Seine in Paris, the Eiffel Tower at my back and eating a French donut.

I was feeling like a native.

The boat took us out to see several interesting points along the way. Unfortunately, I like to sit on the top, out in the elements, which meant no audio narration.

I saw the Place de la Concorde, the bridge with the locks(seems like all the bridges had locks), Notre Dame looked magnificent, and the Eiffel Tower looked commanding. It was a nice lazy pace and I enjoyed the breeze and the sun(now I realize I could be fatigued by the bit of sun bathing I did).

Afterwards, I walked along the Seine and came upon this copy of the flame that Lady Liberty holds in New York Harbor. It also stands, as I heard on my audio guide on the Big Bus, over the spot where Princess Diana died in the car crash.

As I walked along the Seine, I saw some great activities where I didn't see a lot of tourists. But they looked very fun.

I had seen a nice place from the boat, I found it and sat down in what looked like a very comfortable chair. Sadly it was too comfortable and the staff didn't seem to care to get me to buy anything. So I left before I really fell asleep.

I walked from the Eiffel Tower and took the metro at the Musee D'Orsay station. Getting off at the St Michel-Notre Dame station and had a Croque Madame,  which is just a Croque Monsieur with a fried egg. It was huge but I got to sit at a cafe and just chill. I had been eyeing Le Lutèce since I walk pass it every time I have to go to the metro. Finally got to sit down in it.

After I ate, I decided that I would go find a salons and get my hair cut. After all, I had seen several as I wandered around previously, but like all things. You see them when you don't want them, then when you want them, you can't find it!

I walked around die a solid hour, taking the odd turns into the smaller streets because if they are in the main streets, they would be expensive. When I finally found one, I just walked in, literally almost crawling because I was so overheated by my walking and horribly dehydrated.

So I didn't ask how much, I just said "cut". But no one spoke English! The owner was sweet, he said "You are in France." He said it warmly, and when I used google translate to tell them just how I wanted my hair cut, he read it and said "Bravo!"

I don't go to salons in Chicago, because when I have, I'm made to feel that I don't belong. I'm very nonchalant about my appearance, as long as my clothes are clean, what else matters? But there is a definite "mean girls" vibe at some salons, so I don't go.

But over 6,000 miles away, in a country who's language I don't speak, in a city with a reputation for arrogance, I was warmly greeted and treated like a princess! I have never enjoyed a shampoo so much!

I walked out feeling light and carefree, my hair wasn't that long, but it felt like a weight was taken from me.

It was my last full day in Paris so I was little bit down. Before I came, I had predicted that I might have a hard time leaving Spain, it's by the Mediterranean, it's hot, and my ancestors came from there. But as easier as it was for me to speak the language, I like Barcelona but Madrid left a bad taste.

But I had heard the reputation of Parisiens to be arrogant and unkind to foreigners especially Americans. But it wasn't as bad as everyone said. Maybe I'm just so dense I don't get it when people are rude to me. But the laundry lady was the only one who was cranky to me. Everyone else who I've talked to have been very nice, friendly and helpful. 

I did not expect it because I just did all the touristy things and Paris is a place best enjoyed with people. The cafes are much more fun with others, the exploring of the different neighborhoods, is best when you have someone to talk to.

Paris is definitely for lovers so I didn't do those things, didn't have the lovely dinners nor did I even see the Moulin Rouge, I really didn't want any to be out by myself after dark.

But a part of me also feels like, it's ok, because I will be back. Paris wasn't sizzling even though it is summer, but it's been beautiful weather, bright blue skies, not a cloud in the sky. I don't have an AC in my apartment but then I sleep with the window open and enjoy the night air. 

I'm glad to have the opportunity to visit Paris in the summer.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Day 33: Lazy Monday

I’ve been traveling in Europe for 33 days, it doesn’t feel like it. Each and every mile I’ve walked, waited and been whisked away all fall out of my mind. All I’m left with is the small moments of discovery in my constant movement. I tried to sit at a café on Saturday, I ordered a croque monsieur, a really wonderful take on a ham and cheese sandwich and a café au lait as well as sparkling water. Yet I drank too fast, sipped too easy and scarfed the sandwich. I couldn’t just slow down.

Rather than sit and spend time sitting with a book or looking at the world past by, I couldn’t wait to get up and get moving. I personally think it’s a curse for my rabid American ethic of work. I am used to multi-tasking so when I do just one thing, it feels like I'm being unproductive and wasting time.

How did I get so far away from simply stopping and smelling the roses? Taking that deep breath and just stopping? Do one thing but have it go perfectly rather than have a scatter shot method where if 4 out of 6 thing work out, then it’s a good day.

The Cough is back so again I only had 4hours at the most, of sleep. I had to run down the ladder twice in the middle of the night, I keep the windows open to get air into the bedroom, which is amazing, but the courtyard carries noises and I can imagine how my barking must have sounded like a poor wounded dog.

But my mind woke up at 7am, I think it’s a genetic flaw in my brain. Why can’t it just shut down for 8 hours? No, it has to wake up at 7am. As if despite the ear plugs, I’m instinctively aware that the world is awake and I’m missing something.

Many museums are closed on Mondays so I decided to take care of a few chores. I went to find a laundrymat, my host had a posting on the wall telling me to go to Marche St. Germain where there are many machines. I asked the landlord who is here every morning, unfortunately she doesn’t speak English. But I did get that all I had to do was walk down St. Germain and I wouldn’t miss it.

I missed the machines if they had any. I never saw it, what I did see was a dry cleaners and for  €20 they would clean my clothes and get it back to me at 5pm. The proprietress said she didn’t speak English, I don’t believe her. I think she was just cranky because I had never been in her establishment before. She had a very thin veneer of tolerance, as if she were doing me a favor.

That’s the Paris I had heard so much about. But not a universal occurrence in my experience. So I shrugged it off. I was ready to find a café, I was going to sit in the morning sun and watch the world walk by. But for what ever reason, I just didn’t find any of the cafés appealing. Instead I went grocery shopping and made myself delicious fried eggs for breakfast. Actually, it was more like lunch since it was closer to 11am at that  point.

Then I fell asleep, took a nap in the middle of the day. THAT’S what a vacation is, the freedom to just drop off to sleep whenever you want to. But I set my phone timer for 25mins, I wanted it to be a nap. But when it set off, I hit the timer again for another 25mins. When I turned my head to reach for my phone, I realized I had a nice little bit of drool on my face. It felt good, it meant, I had a good drooling nap.

But after about 5 minutes, I talked myself into getting up and going somewhere. The George Pompidou Museum was only 7 mins away on the metro, although it took me more like 15mins running around in the Halles forum(an underground mall), which, surprise surprise, was under renovation so I felt like a rat in an obstacle course.

Eventually, I got out to street level, checked my GPS and after some double tracking, I got going to the Pompidou Center. Why my GPS decided that my destination was the back of the center and not the front entrance, I don’t know. So I had an extra walk around the building, which was the size of a city block, before I finally found the front entrance.

I get that everything has to be justified with some rationale, but why must EVERYTHING be justified by retail sales? The center had several things going on at once. On one outside section on the 1st floor(all ground floors are 0, which is logical, but confuses me all the time), I saw a long line of people. There was also a section that was like a kid’s activity center.

But the museum was on the 5th floor, and even though you are inside, once you present your entrance tickets, you have to go to the outside escalators that look an awful like the play center that we used to have for our pet gerbils. Plus since it was all see through plastic, it was like the inside of a microwave, only I’m the entrée.

Eventually, I got to the 5th floor and when I entered I realized that this was a showcase for modern art. I am not a big fan of modern art. But I gave it a go, I saw names I didn’t recognize and I saw things that were being passed as art when if I were presented them, I would violently react. Such as the can of Merde, 30g of an artist’s shit. Wow, he must have been a really good talker. I like my fecal matter, out and away from me, I wouldn’t be canning them and selling it for profit, let alone art. Was this an instance of someone actually shitting gold?

I continued to explore the museum, one because it was beautifully air conditioned and two, I was there, what else was I going to do? But as I kept walking I started noticing some familiar names and it wasn’t long before I became enthralled.

The Pompidou give out free wi-fi. The place was wonderfully cool. There were no ropes indicating how close or how far(depending on your perspective) you could stand.
I turned a corner and there was a George Brecht installation. I could have reached out and touched it. I didn’t because I have respect for an artist’s work. But based on the number of employees constantly watching, I’m guessing there are people who love to reach out and touch.

There was several Picassos including another harlequin painting, I saw one at the Albertina in Vienna, or maybe the Prado, I’m not sure. But I learned that he had made several in his earlier days and had his friends dress in his harlequin costume and paint them.

I entered a gallery and there was a Jackson Pollock right in front of me.
I don’t remember ever seeing on of his paintings personally and now there were several.
There were Magrittes, Matisses and a Dali. We could take pictures and I took selfies with them, I was that close!

I was overjoyed. I’m not an expert in any of the arts, I just know what I like and what I don’t like and I enjoy my own opinion. Once I hear some tidbit of fact, I can absolutely play pretentious snob, but why bother?

I spent more time at the Pompidou than I had expected. Before I knew it, I had spent my afternoon there. Then I calmly walked out and made my way back by retracing my steps. I put away my gps and just paid attention to the signs.

Then I put myself to the test, I went to look for the laundry place without my gps on the phone. I just walked out and headed in the general direction. Which is a new skill I seem to have attained.

Before long, I found the place, picked up my laundry and headed home. My plans were to make an early dinner(big giant salad) and head out to catch an evening ride on the Seine. Once I got inside, I dropped trou and ate dinner. I had to force myself to leave the apartment again to see if I could get a medical refill on a prescription medication. But then I realized that in 9 days, I would be home anyways, so I aborted the attempt.

Instead I wandered around and finally got the chance to walk into a Gilbert Joseph. Just to clarify, I didn’t expect to come to Paris and fall in love with two men, Paul and Gilbert Joseph.

Paul is a chain patisserie and Gilbert Joseph is the Borders of Paris, except, they are still open. I love pens, art supplies, books and blank books. I have a weakness for soft leather goods and everything I had been looking for, the had, if I had only known.

I wandered in and let myself browse delighted in being in a bookstore, I’ve missed Borders and the Barnes & Noble is close to a 20minute drive from my home. I loved looking at the books and reading their French translations. Most of the titles were switched over to French, some weren’t but the full text was in French, which didn’t really help me, but it was nice to be standing in a bookstore.

So basically that was my lazy Monday, strolling around randomly and letting myself just slow down. I bought myself not one but two fedora style hats, my little cap with the pins was in the wash(which ended up the way most of my clean laundry end up, still in the bag).

Tomorrow the Musee D’Orsay is open as is the Rodin Museum, I’m still intent on riding the Seine and so we’ll see. Maybe, I’ll actually sleep tonight.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Day 32: A Palace, A Garden and A Lovelorn Duck

Since it was Sunday, I thought what better day to spend out in the country hanging out at a castle? So I took a nice long trip out to this little town called Versailles about 16 miles from Paris and a 45min ride on the metro.  
They opened at 9am, so I knew that I wasn’t going to be the first one in line when I got off the train and was at the front gate around 9:44am. But it was within the suggested time of 9-10am so my Paris Pass could get me in faster.

No, not the case at all. I walked up to the broad area right in front of the main gates, there was a line snaking around and when I asked an ‘official’ looking man and showed him my pass, he waved me over and said, this is the line.  

How people, voluntarily lined up and made a snaking configuration that span the width of the Place d’Armes, I don’t know. As I stood in that line, trying to maintain my battery levels on my phone, I looked for free wifi, which the Palace said was available, it wasn’t the strength of signal just wasn’t there. So I literally had to people watch.

Sometimes I like it, most times I don’t because I find myself being judgmental. Things like “Who told her she could walk in those heels?” “Dude, shaving would probably be your best option.” Or better yet, “Honey, would you like some butter with your rolls?” So I resist, because temptation is hard.

I did wonder how the crowd instinctively knew to snake around like that. There were times when lines tended to close in towards each other and other times it was so far apart that it didn’t even look like the same line, which was the case when I got in the queue and about an hour later, I finally got in.

Somehow, in my travels, a bit of Gulliver-itis has snuck in. Suddenly things that should have been grand and awe inspiring, looked ok. I don’t know what it is, maybe because I’ve seen so many palaces and churches and museums that they all look comparatively the same. 

But the gates of Versailles wasn’t massive like Buckingham Palace, but it was very gold! Then not every part of Versailles was available for viewing because of renovations. Then the rooms of the king and the queen looked like every other palace, lots of uncomfortable looking furniture, huge paintings hanging on the walls and paintings on the ceilings. Ornate and overwrought designs that had my head twisting around like the Exorcist.

But I did find the Hall of Mirror fantastic, but with the mob of people seemingly covering every inch of floor, it made the room seem smaller but it was nonetheless breath taking.  I’m assuming the floor to ceiling windows facing east really light up the room with the dazzling mirrors reflecting light up and off the crystal chandeliers.

Then I went and paid the extra €9 to enter the gardens. I was seeing snatches of them as I toured the palace and there was so many people there enjoying a beautiful Sunday that I had to go.

It’s twice the size of NYC’s Central Park and it was a very long walk. But the gardens were amazing! Also I was able to catch a special exhibition by artist Anish Kapoor and his massive artwork. There was his Sky Mirror that at first looks like a big satellite dish until you realize it’s a mirror and you can see yourself in it. But we’ve had the Bean in Chicago for a while, so….

The walk down from the back of the palace to the top of the Grand Canal took about 20minutes and I don’t saunter, I walk a nice pace, and then I had to walk back! It was beautiful, from the aerial views I’ve seen of it online and on the brochures they handed out, the layout would take days to walk. So they will rent you out an electric car. I never found the rental place, because I would be sorely tempted to rent one the proceed to drive like a banshee all over the grounds.

There is a musical event when the fountains are run to matching music, but I missed them all. Instead I had a little moment at the Fountain of Apollo’s Chariot. 

I was lining up a shot to take when I noticed a disturbance in the water in my peripheral view. Then a trio of little ducks swam towards it with one little duck quacking in distress. I mean I heard it quacking as if to say, “Hey, are you ok? Where did you go?” It’s little quack was plaintive and I had to walk to the edge of the fountain to look down and see if perhaps a fellow duck had fallen in.

It’s a shallow fountain, so I saw down to the mossy bottom, but there was no duck lying on the bottom with his beak agape and drowning(I have a very active imagination!). But the little duck kept coming and his two buddies were right by his side and he was just so worried.

Then I saw it, I saw the reason for his distress! It was a HUGE carp! It languidly swam by them and the little duck saw it and continued to quack, plaintively and was trying to catch up to the fish, who of course ignored him.  

I bring it up because I really felt bad for the little duck. As if he was in the throes of unrequited love. Silly me. Then it dawned on me. I knew what I could say to the little duck to bring him comfort and release.

“Don’t chase that big fish in the little pond! It will always be a big fish in that pond and she will always be there, she can’t leave. But you have wings, you can fly away anywhere you want. You are not imprisoned by that pond. Fly little duck fly!”

I chuckled to myself, getting all philosophical over a duck and a fish. But when I walked back on my return trip, the fish (there were several off them) were all still in that fountain pond, all lined up facing south, it was a little bizarre. As if they only swam around causing a fuss when the ducks were around. The ducks, had all flown away, off to have their adventures and the big fish in the little pond sat, quiet and still.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Day 31: The 3 P’s of Paris:

The title popped into my head the very first thing this morning. I had a rough night, the romantically sounding loft bedroom in a Paris apartment kicked off my allergies in the most notable way, I got The Cough back. So sleep was difficult and I ended up with only 4hours of sleep because on a Saturday morning at 7am, someone decides THAT is the perfect time to start working on renovations in their apartment. Or something because I was awakened by the sounds of crashing and booming.

I sleep with ear plugs, anyone who’s stayed in a hostel knows to bring earplugs. Yet despite them firmly lodged so deeply in my ear canals, I risked losing them, I could still hear the pounding. Oddly, the minute I removed them, the pounding stopped, at 739am. Maybe it was the sound of my brain exploding, I don’t know, but I know, I didn’t get enough sleep. But I promised myself I would be at the door of the Louvre at 9am when it opened and dragging myself out of bed and finally being ready at 830am meant, I could not stop and have a long leisurely breakfast at one of those Parisian cafes. Instead, I quick stepped it over to the Louvre.

I had the gps on my phone, but for some reason, the street names on my phone don’t match the street names on the streets, so I straggled through the streets, aiming for someplace that would take me to the Seine where I knew if I could just get there, the Louvre would be hard to miss.

I saw, at almost 9am, a group of 20-somethings buying a late dinner. I’m sure of it because one of the guys still had blood drying on his head in bright streaks down his face. Ah, the perils of youth.

Then I spotted two young men sitting dejectedly on the sidewalk and saw a glance exchanged, one stood up and tried to speak to me, I said nothing and pointed to my ear, he assumed I was deaf and left me alone. The Louvre was waiting for me.

It was in that walk that I noticed something about Paris that I noticed yesterday but this being a new morning, I thought would change. No, my opinion didn’t change, Paris smells like pee. I don’t know what it is, I had been warned that dog poop was everywhere so watch where I walked, but I hadn’t noticed anything, yet. But I do smell the pee. That’s the first P.

I got to the Louvre just a bit after 9am, the lines weren’t bad and I had the Paris pass so I got through the long line of people who still had to buy their tickets. It’s odd, you line up outside by the glass pyramid, put your bag through a scanner, go downstairs, and get in line for tickets. Then get in line to go into one of the three galleries, which all have their own check in but are also connected so…?

My immediate priority was the Mona Lisa, I had heard the crowds were insane, and I wanted to see her so then I could take my time looking through everything else. The Louvre is a nightmare to navigate. I paid and extra €5 for the audio guide, a Nintendo DS that had an interactive map and a gps on the user so it can guide you to whatever object you wanted to see. The only thing is, when I used a map, up usually means north, or in the current direction you are facing. I don’t know what Nintendo was doing, but it sure was good to wait about 5 minutes after I ‘wandered away from the tour’ to tell me I was lost.

Luckily, the Mona Lisa had many black and white photocopied sheets hanging on every doorway directing you to where you had to go. Except, in dealing with crowds, they directed you through the longest way around when, you can get there very quickly, since you actually walk past the back entrance of her gallery.

Luckily, before I reach her, I had to go up an elevator, up some stairs, go down some stairs only to go back up again and at that top middle landing was the Winged Victory statue. The first time I my expectations were met on a piece of art. She stands tall and imposing in the middle of a staircase set up so you can see her from several galleries away. It was kind of like the Vegas strip, you swear it was just right there, so close, then the stairs drop on  you.

I got to the Mona Lisa gallery, she has an entire wall to herself, she is the single most famous painting in the history of man but she looks like a postage stamp next to the wall sized painting covering the rest of the room. What were they trying to do? Hide her in plain sight? The single rope barrier is about 6 feet away from her so I can’t say I actually got a good photo of her. There was a lot of pushing and I’ve figured out that a new American tourist is the one who gets annoyed and actually says things like “that’s rude!” when they get shoved out of the way. I was like that once, now I do the pushing because it’s the only way to get anything accomplished.

When you are amidst a mass of people, the only way to get anywhere is to use your elbows and shoulders and let me tell you, I got some broad shoulders.

Then I loitered, big mistake. The Louvre seems like the size of three football stadiums. I understand three galleries, but what’s with the crazy stairs? Wasn’t this a palace at some point? Where they trying to avoid the rest of the household?

I went through Napolean’s rooms, his gigantic dinner table, Marie Antoinette’s travel kit, a ton of snuff boxes and jewelry, when I noticed the crowds had grown louder and thicker. It was not 1130am and I had just blown 2hours walking around and I still hadn’t found the Venus de Milo!

I assumed that like other museums, you place the displays in a way that is conducive to moving people through all the galleries. So since the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory were in the Denon gallery, I assumed that Venus was in another gallery, maybe with the other sculptures. I found some tremendous sculptures that had my mouth hanging open on the ground floor of the Richelieu gallery or pavilion, but the Venus de Milo was actually back in the Denon building.

Again, twisted around, I couldn’t find it and had to be directed back out to the middle of the pyramid and back to the Denon gallery.

The Venus Di Milo is beautiful, she didn't disappoint and I was overjoyed.

At which point it was 1:30pm and I had not had anything to eat. So I headed out, thought I’d stop and get some postcards. That’s when I saw the Odalisque on a postcard. She a painting by a Frenchman and she was the first painting I studied when I had a class on art history. She’s an impossibly long waisted woman who looks over her shoulder at you. She was a fantasy painted because she has about 5 vertebrae too many for an actual female spine.

I was not aware she was at the Louvre, for it to be a French painting, I was surprised it wasn’t listed on any of the ‘must see works’. So I went back into the Louvre to look for it. I went to the big information desk in the center of the pyramid and asked where the Odalisque was. And the woman had no idea what I was talking about. How do you work at the Louvre and a French painter exceeds your knowledge. I explained it was a painting. Then she waved her hand and said all the paintings are on the 1st floor of the Denon. I wonder if she was from Madrid.

So everything I had wanted to see was in the Denon gallery, great, so why did I end up going through the Sully and Richelieu if that were the case? Now the crowds were even thicker, by the time I got to the Grand Odalisque(her full title), a group of Asians were covering the painting taking pictures. I snuck to the side, looked to see if they were all done taking pictures and stood as close to dead center as I could. And because I’m a nice person, I took one picture and it’s not perfect, there’s a bleeping glare of light on her forehead, but I saw her in person. Done.

Then I practically ran out of the Louvre, not before I got stuck on the Louvre Carousel and ended up where I had begun, then I paid attention to the exit signs.

I exited at the Tuileries, blinding light scorched my weak, ailing eyes and I had to sit down under a tree to get my bearings. Of course, I walked the wrong way over estimating the direction of my next stop. The Big Bus office to get my ticket to take the hop on/off bus ride. Don’t get it, compared to the other hop on/off buses I’ve been on in other cities, this was a bit of a waste, expecially when with my Paris Pass, I get a 5 day metro card! But I enjoyed sitting the whole time since my ankle wasn’t loving the cobblestone streets.

I went around and around, they drove distractingly slow, I understand it’s to give us time to take that photo op, but really? Add the traffic and the ride of a mere 10 stops was aggravatingly long. I stepped off at the Eiffel Tower, but then I saw the lines and I remembered I don’t like heights and the Eiffel Tower is nothing but steel girders and bolts, I may have to pass on going up. I can go up the Montparnasse Tower too for a view.

I returned to the bus and took it back to the Louvre so I can take a leisurely walk back to my apartment. But for some reason, when I’m sweaty, hungry and tired, I walk like my feet are on fire, my feet barely touch the ground and I dodge and dip pass the other tourist.

Who are the second P of Paris, people. Lots and lots of them, some who don’t know the meaning of deodorant.

As I walked back to Rue St. Michel, I noticed that it had been blocked off and there was a big commotion because there were a lot of people crowding on the street. Rue St. Michel is a major artery, with lots of traffic and a big wide street. And now it was filled with people. Then that’s when I noticed the rainbow get ups, the wigs, the capes, the flags. I had stumbled on to the Paris Pride parade!

What unbelievable joy filled me! The last time I went to Chicago pride, I was stuck standing on a lawn chair trying to see. Halsted street is a smaller street and the crowds were at times 10 deep. I walked to the corner of St. Michel and Blvd St. Germain and there was very distinct police presence and the corner was cordoned off. But I found my way to the front of the line and watched the parade. In Chicago, it’s maybe an hour long, I didn’t expect Paris’ to be much different. Besides when I walked up, it had already started.

But Paris has a reputation and living up to it is her destiny. The parade lasted for another 3-1/2hrs when I started watching it. It looked like anyone could join in between the floats(they use trucks instead of actual floats, which is what we use in the US). But everyone was so joyful, dancing, singing, drinking, it had all the best elements of a parade.

I looked around at the crowd gathered to watch, and the demographics were all over the place. Like the participants who ranged from young to old, males and females, the crowd was just as diverse. Yet they too head bopped to the music. There was a couple next to me, both looked like they were in their late 50s, early 60s, the wife was bopping her head swaying to the music an wanted to get the flags they were giving away. Some of the Chicago floats throw beads, a la New Orleans Mardi Gras or candy. I was disappointed there was none of that.

But the enthusiasm, the joy evince by the people on the streets today put a lump in my throat. The US was widely celebrating the passage of marriage equality and to see the words “Love wins” or “Love is Love” written on placards today reminded me how far we had come. And I saw old gay couples and I got teary eyed because in the US, they can finally marry, announce to the world their commitment to love.

There was a moment of silence for those who had succumbed to AIDS and to get that many people to shut up for a few seconds was amazing. (The guards at the Sistine Chapel couldn't get a bunch of us quiet!)

Then when the moment ended, a surge of cheers slowly gathers into a roar and it looked around and everyone was clapping.

This was the 3rd Paris P: Pride

Then at the heels of the last float and participants, the green street cleaners were all lined up to begin the street cleaning immediately. It was an amazing end to an amazing day.

Thank you Paris, you have been surprising me every day.

Update: Here is the video I took of this great day and the wonderful Parisiens who shared it with me.
Paris Pride 2015 Video