It rained a bit during the night, but now at 8:30 am Paris time, the streets and sidewalks are already almost dry. The sky is mostly cloudy. Perhaps the rain and clouds will alleviate the heat. I perspire constantly. It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago when I first arrived in Paris, the weather was chilly enough to require a jacket. Of course, I shouldn’t complain. In a few weeks I will be back in the inferno of June in Phoenix.
Yesterday, I went out walking from mid-morning to early afternoon and then returned to the hostel to spend a few hours working on the novel I am writing.
The picture below shows the modern building where the hostel is located where I am staying. It’s futuristic design has been successful in attracting yuppies to a neighborhood that is otherwise declining. The building is home to such business as Bob’s Bake Shop and the General Store.
Hostels used to be called “youth hostels” and still are in France (auberges de jeunesse), but today the clientele consists of people of all ages including middle-aged and older people traveling on a budget. The advantage of staying in hostels is the ability to meet people from all cultures and of all ages. For example, when I arrived the day before yesterday, my dormitory companions were a young man from India and a retired Algerian who now lives in Vancouver, Canada. Yesterday, my companions were a giant of a man from Argentina in his middle ages and a young American.
Below is a photo of the outside of the General Store. Businesses designed to attract urban professionals often sport English names. Like a “general store” in a yuppie shopping center in the USA, this one tends to sell items such as coffee, baked goods, beer, wine, etc. Smokers tend to sit outside, and people who are allergic to cigarette smoke, as I am, sit inside. Notice the beach chairs to the left designed for those who want to sit in the sun and work on their tans.
Others may prefer the Champs Elysée or the Eifel Tower, but I am attracted to bike and book shops. Book shops are in decline everywhere (although Paris’ famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore continues to do a brisk business selling books in English), but cycling is quite popular everywhere including on the traffic-choked streets of Paris.
The picture below shows a typical residential street of Paris away from the broad boulevards of the tourist area. Almost all Parisians live in apartment blocks like those shown in the picture. Rents are sky-high, so you have to be well off to live in this city or to have purchased an apartment decades ago when prices were lower.
There are very few really tall buildings in Paris. Most buildings are four or five stories tall. They were built, of course, before elevators were common, so the height of the buildings was limited by how many flights of stairs the residents were willing to walk.
That reminds me of an online story I read on a German website a few weeks ago. It claimed that many elderly people in Germany are stranded in their apartments, because they are no longer able to walk the stairs to reach the street. They lead isolated lives and depend on relatives or care-givers to do their grocery shopping.
I’ve often thought that I would like to have a second story added to my house if I had the money to do it. Perhaps I should rethink that. I am already 74 years old, and who knows how many years it will be until I, too, am unable to walk a flight of stairs?
Saturdays seem to be flea market days in this neighborhood. An elevated train, part of the metro system, runs just a few blocks from this hostel. Under the tracks, merchants set up improvised stalls and sell anything imaginable from vegetables to clothing, to nick-knacks to household appliances. The photo shows just a small part of the market. It stretches on for many blocks in both directions.
I have only a few more days left in Europe, and I plan to divide them between sightseeing and writing. One of the objectives of this trip was to get some writing done. Otherwise, I have a complete lack of responsibility, and I am not looking forward to getting back to the hassles of everyday life in Phoenix. Luckily, I only have to endure the hardship of a normal life for two months until my next trip to Europe.
Incidentally, the European press was quite critical of President Trump’s visit to Europe. One German news site mentioned that during a speech by the Italian president, delivered in Italian, Donald Trump did not have his headset on and therefore couldn’t have been listening to the English translation. Did Donald Trump suddenly learn Italian, or was he simply showing his lack of interest in anyone’s ideas but his own?
As the NATO leaders were lining up for a group photo, Trump is shown in a video shoving the Montenegro prime minister to one side so that Trump could get to the front of the group. Another head of state seemed to criticize him for his rudeness, but he reacted to her comment with a dismissive gesture.
Trump also has the habit of a grade school boy when shaking hands with a foreign head of state of squeezing the other person’s hand hard and not letting go as if trying to humiliate the other person before the cameras. He made the mistake of trying that trick with French president Emmaneul Macron, but President Macron squeezed back until Donald Trump turned white in the face and backed off. Maybe our president will now realize that his childish games don’t always work out to his advantage.