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Trip Report Speed dating and snow: Nikki's trip to Paris

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Paris March 2013 Trip Report

I wasn't going to go to Paris this year. I have been lucky enough to be able to go to Paris about once a year for the past few years, but this year there were a couple of big trips planned and I couldn't justify the additional trip to Paris. Then the two major trips were cancelled, and I decided to go to Paris as the consolation prize. I booked my apartment and air tickets for two weeks in March, and then my husband Alan decided he would join me for the second week. He has retired recently and could travel for the first time during a week which was not school vacation.

The weekend before I left, we had two feet of snow at home. It snowed for two days. Alan got the driveway cleared in time for me to head off to my community orchestra's dress rehearsal Saturday and concert Sunday. Monday, March 12, I packed and headed to the airport in Boston with the tunes from the concert playing in an endless loop inside my head. Especially the last part of the overture to The Pirates of Penzance, the "hail, hail, the gang's all here" part, in which there is a prominent piccolo part.

I am still humming when the plane starts its descent to the airport in Paris. When we emerge below the clouds, all is white on the ground. Everything is covered with snow- roads, runways, houses, cars. As we approach the ground, the plane suddenly pulls up and starts gaining altitude. The captain makes an announcement that the runway is covered with snow and there is a cumulonimbus cloud on the runway (really? at least that's what it sounds like) and he didn't like the looks of it. We circle, approach from a different direction on a different runway, hold our breath (at least I do) and make a successful landing. There is applause.

The highway from the airport into Paris is covered with snow. It has not been plowed or sanded. Two (sort of) lanes are making their way through the ruts. We pass accidents to the left and the right. Taxis, motorcycles. The driver is leafing through a book, looking for the location of my apartment. I offer to find it for him. "N'ayez pas peur," he says. I put on my seat belt.

Traffic going the other way heading out to the airport is at a standstill, but we move along and make it intact to the apartment, where I say good-bye to the driver, who is planning to quit work early today; this ride has been enough for him.

I ring the apartment and the owner says she will be right down. She walks down the stairs. The elevator is not working. The two of us make it up the five flights of stairs with my two bags (she takes the heavier one) and we are moving pretty slowly but get there all right. Before my two knee replacements, this would have been pretty much impossible for me, so I am celebrating my good fortune. I feel bad for the owner though. She calls somebody and complains about the elevator, which was allegedly fixed the day before, and says to send somebody competent this time.

We watch television together; the news is full of the storm. Transportation tied up all over the region. Pictures of jammed metros, ominous warnings that many buses are not running. The owner is taking a train to Marseille, She calls to see if it is on time, it appears that it is, and she leaves on foot for the Gare de Lyon. I learn later that her train has been cancelled, and she spends three and a half hours at the station but arrives safely in Marseille that evening.

I debate whether to go out. I figure I will get as far as the cafe on the corner and have some lunch. If it looks like the buses are running, I will take one to the College de France, where I hope to go to a class this afternoon. So I bundle up in my wool coat and scarf and gloves. I have not brought boots; this is Paris in March.

I am still humming themes from the Pirates of Penzance as I head out onto the snowy sidewalk, camera in hand.

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