Five euros to use a bathroom? Ugh, as if.

I had thought this past weekend was my last one in Paris. Thought, because there had been a possibility that I’d be traveling the weekend following. Although now I’m not quite sure.

As for the weekend after, there’s a little more than a chance (unless I feel like dishing out $300) that I'll be on a plane, on my way home.

I don't want to talk about it.

Naomi-- a friend from camp-- came in town this weekend. We had worked on staff my first year as a counselor—the sort of camp friendship in which we swapped over shabbos outfits, chit chatting over the camp gossip that runs rampant during our eight weeks on staff. But save seeing her during my trip to Atlanta this past December, Naomi and I really haven’t had much contact since that summer, three year ago.


There's always that something more with camp friends-- the incredible connection we all seem to share as a result of camp as our commonality. It was lovely spending the weekend together—welcoming Naomi on Saturday as a a little more than an acquaintance, and wishing her goodbye, this afternoon, as truly a good friend.

Paris Plage
So if it does end up being my last weekend in Paris, it really was a nice way to wish parts of my life in Paris, a bientot.

Saturday
- Naomi was due to arrive around 12:30, and I had agreed to meet her at her hotel an hour after. I spent the morning wandering along the underpass by the Seine, stopping to sit at a bench just past Pont Neuf. The air was warm, the atmosphere peaceful. And I sat there for an hour, my laptop open as I wrote-- enjoying the movement of all around.

- I met Naomi at her hotel-- setting straight off for a walk up to the Pantheon and back down towards l'Hotel de Ville to walk along the (just opened) Paris Plage (a strip by the Seine that gets transformed into a "beach" each summer). We made our way to the Musee d'Orsay-- popping in for a visit-- heading to Tuileries after and found seats in the shade as we sat and chatted for a while. It was in Tuileries that I bumped into a couple from Chabad that I had met the night before-- a funny coincidence, given the gardens are huge and we were definitely not sitting in a central location.

- Went to Versailles that evening for an evening Water & Light show (the cost: ghastly, but the experience: worth it). The expanse of the grounds dripped of elegeance—the regal touch of the gardens and chateau lit up amid a backdrop of pinks and blues tracing the evening sky. The fountains varied in height and pressure, as if tune with the music, and the fireworks, promptly set off at 11:05, were unlike any I’ve ever seen. Not that my pictures of the fireworks do the evening justice given I had put my lens on manual focus and had conveniently forgotten to switch it back.

Versailles


Sunday
- Walked to the Jardin du Luxembourg for a free yoga class on the jardin's main grass patch. Got caught in a fit of hysterics as I came to a quick realization that my body is by far not as flexible as it had once been back when I was 10 and used to join in on the adult yoga classes. 

- Went to the Marais for a late afternoon, falafel lunch. Opted for Chez Hannah rather than L'as du Falafel: the line was shorter and from memory, the falafel tastes exactly the same. Any which way, I'm more concerned with the taste of the eggplant. Which is superb at the two.

- Made our way to Place de la Concorde to watch the last leg of the Tour de France. It's a stunning area, Place de la Concorde-- the same area my Super Shuttle driver had taken me through the day I had arrived. And I recall being captivated by the gold adornment of the central plaza’s light poles and obelisk. I had thought how ritzy-- how glamorous-- Paris was. It's still as beautiful-- the Eiffel Tower poking out in the distance, the Jardin de Tuileries to one end of the plaza; the Champs Elysees to the other. I love standing at the end of the Jardin de Tuileries, a view of the Arc de Triomphe at the head of the Champs Elysees-- the haze of Paris's La Defense and La Grand Arche further behind, yet in the same axis, as the Arc de Triomphe.

TDF '12 through Place de la Concorde
- We headed to Buttes Chaumont (a park in the 19th arrondissement) for a few hours following-- joining the droves of others as we laid out in the grass to relax.

- Met up with a girl, later that evening, that a friend had put me in contact with. Joined her friends for a picnic on the banks just under Pont Marie. But it proved difficult to balance conversation with the group, given not all spoke French and English. And so Naomi and I ended leaving early-- in desperate need of a bathroom.

Which in Paris, always makes for a good story.

We stopped into a range of restaurants, asking for directions to the nearest public toilet. Nearing bathroom emergency by this point, we, after a good ten minutes of a frantic search, found the bathroom-- Naomi running ahead to tackle the stall first.

Except it wouldn't open.

Leaving two options: to find a back alley. Or to sneak into a restaurant.

Being the classy ladies we are, we opted for the latter-- a brisk walk into the first cafe we found, we made a beeline towards the bathroom. Until we felt a hand grab the two of our arms.

"Qu'est- ce que vous faites?" the waiter snarled.

"On doit aller aux toilettes," I responded. Why else would we be in the bathroom?

"Le bar est la- bas," he answered curtly-- the implication that we'd have to buy a drink in order to use the toilets.

Right, a drink, more liquid, more time to waste when the two of us just needed to go to the bathroom.

We'd pay after, I said-- asking how much it would be.

Five euros and no.

And with that, we were escorted out-- like criminals who had raided a private part of the restaurant. How dare we.

We were lucky to eventually find a waiter at another restaurant who let us use the bathroom.

But the fact it had taken that long just to find a place to use a toilet was ridiculous. I don't understand how Parisians don't acknowledge accessible bathroom usage as a natural, human right. Nor comprehend how one could charge five euros just to use a bathroom.

I mean, that's the same price they charge for a tea.

Festival Fnac Live
- With the bathroom emergency settled, Naomi and I headed to the Festival Fnac Live concert, a free four- day concert at l'Hotel de Ville. It was a good concert, though the sound not at all loud enough for us to loose ourselves in the music. It was as Naomi and I were leaving that I bumped into a friend from my French grammar class. There were literally thousands of people swarming the grounds so it was really by chance that I ran into her. Like the couple I had seen at Tuileries-- we all could have been anywhere, yet somehow we crossed paths.

- Naomi and I ended the night-- and weekend-- off with crepes, eating them on the banks of the Seine just by Notre Dame. I love sitting along the Seine, by day, by night. I love watching the water-- how gentle the water's ripples seem in contrast to the steady flow of pedestrians and vehicles traversing the pavement and road above.

______
I could say I wish I had thousands more of these weekends left in my time in Paris.  And I do wish that.

But I also understand that I find weekends like these more special because I know they're some of the last times I'll experience it, during this period abroad.

I’m moving forward, rather than holding back—you can’t hold on to the moments of yesterday as you take on the adventures of tomorrow.

 Although I really do wish the Seine could follow me home.

I'll just have to find my own Seine, once home.
That's just the better way of looking at it.


1 Response to Five euros to use a bathroom? Ugh, as if.

August 3, 2012 at 5:08 AM

Emma! I loved reading this post! Your blog is excellent!

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