“Cheeseburger”

Day 190, Thursday 12 July 2012 – Paris

I have been having a minor financial crisis for the past few day, well less of a crisis – more of a financial niggle in the back of mind.
I am stuck in that weird place where my money is in one country and I am in another and I have limited access to cash. I have not replaced the NZ ATM card I lost in Laos – not through lack of desire to replace, but through lack of desire to jump through hoops to get it, so do not have direct access to my bank account.

I have been relying on foreign currency travel cards to get by, but my UK pound card ran out of funds while I was on the Coast Path Run which came as a real surprise, I transferred some money over (thank God for Internet banking), but have forgotten the travel card web site log in so cannot check as to why I ran out of funds so soon. I have also set up an English bank account but have not been able to transfer funds into it as I need to ring the bank in NZ to set up an overseas transfer account as it cannot be done on line. So very soon I am going to run out of easily accessible cash, it is time to ring the bank in NZ. Pity I cannot find my NZ sim card…

In the end I borrowed my friend Emily’s recently acquired French pre-pay mobile to call the bank in NZ. I started with the travel card company and got as far as being asked my secure code before the phone ran out of credit – Merde ! But it did poke some brain cells into life and I remembered my login for the travel card site. I did discover that I have been screwed on bank fees which I will take u with the bank, but I had bought less pounds than I thought so, whew, nothing untoward had happened to my cash.

The plan for the day was an ambitious one that involved one heck of a lot of walking and some rides on the Metro, Paris’ version of the London Underground. The Metro is way more complex than London, with a lot more lines to choose from. We chose to take the Metro to the furthest point for the day and meander some of the way on foot, as this really is the best way to see a city.

Well, we ended up just taking the Metro to Gare de Nord and walking to Sacre Coure (SC) from there as it was not too far and Gare de Nord is the most confusing station in the whole world (that I have been too anyway!) SC is one of the older churches in Paris and sits on a hill above the River Seine, I am not clear on the history of it as I frustratingly do not seem to have internet access at the moment. SC is split into three viewing areas, the main chapel, which is free – but no photography and the dome and crypt, both of which are charged for but you can take photos. We visited all three, awesome !

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Peace out !

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If I was thinking of buying a hand bag, an old church would definitely be my first stop…

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The chapel was very cool, some great statuary and frescoes a wonderfully lit space, but the highlight was definitely the dome. There are three hundred steps to the top, which obviously keeps the worst of the tourist hoards out, the steps are up a winding narrow spiral staircase, and the wear marks in the stone show how many people have been this way.

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The views from the top are magnafique !

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The crypt was pretty cool as well, but quite dim (of course), it wasn’t as crypty as I expected, and a lot of the memorials were to soldiers fallen in the wars of the last century. I did love this statue though.

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From SC it is a short hop to Montmartre, I wasn’t quite so thrilled with the place, it is very cute, lovely cobble stone streets, but packed with tourists and very much catered to the tour bus crowd.

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We did visit the Abbey St Pierre de Montmarte a Benedictine abbey started in 1147. There was also quite an interesting photo exhibition next door from a Japanese photographer whose name alludes me now, but they did have a Panasonic GX1 which I drooled on for a bit…

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We scarpered from Montmarte fairly smartish and headed down hill towards the Montmarte Cemetry, one of the two ‘big name’ cemeteries in Paris. I loved this bit of art on the way down the hill.

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The streets here are just lovely and if I had to live in Paris (and had loads of money) this is where I would live.

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We had a wander around looking for Edgar Dega’s grave but couldn’t find it. It is incredibly complex mass of tombs and crypts, some immensely complex and detailed and others plain. It was very interesting to say the least and I am really looking forward to visiting the Montparnasse Cemetery in a few days time.

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Yo !

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After the cemetery we walked on down past the Moulin Rouge and caught the Metro to the shopping district and Gallerie Lafayette.

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Metro station.

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After some faffing we stopped for a hot chocolate at Angeline’s in the Gallerie Lafayette, the cafe has been around for over a hundred years and the hot chocolate is a must have item, it was delicious, unlike my photo of it which was out of focus…

We dropped in to see one of Emily’s Parisian friends at his office on Avenue De Opera – with an awesome view !

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And then took a slow walk down some more back streets, I just love how deserted Paris is when you got away from where the tour guides suggest, these streets are one back from the hell of the main roads. The buildings are fantastic, and of course I just love the bicycles !

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to Place Vendome where we drooled over the (beyond) big name shops, drooled some more on the two Lambos parked outside the Paris Ritz – where Princess Di spent her last evening.

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We visited the Madelleine which did allow some photography inside, again, like SC earlier in the day, stunning examples of statuary and frescoes.

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And then wandered back up to the Printemps department store in the shopping district to admire the fantastic domed roof of the restaurant.

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and from there caught the Metro back to St Michel. It had been drizzling all afternoon and was raining quite hard when we got out of the station so we stopped for a vin at a cafe and then dinner at Tabac de la Sorbonne. Emily ordered her meal, a bottle of wine and a bottle of water in rapid fire French, when the waiter looked at me all I could manage was “Cheeseburger”, not even please- complete brain freeze. Fortunately this was seen as quite amusing by all, at least the waiter had a sense of humour!

The cheeseburger was very nice, the service excellent and the wine great – a rare tip was left.

I tried ringing the bank in New Zealand again tonight, this time to activate transfering moneey overseas – ie to where I am. The recorded message said a wait of four to five minutes, at three Euro a minute for the call – I hung up…