Here I am in Paris for the first time! I arrived day before yesterday. I am staying with a friend. Her place is very accessible by Metro to everything and is a lovely neighborhood. The weather is beautiful, sunny, a little breezy. I walked last evening for a couple of hours from the Concorde Metro stop through Jardin Des Juileres, past the Louvre, the Chatelet les Halles, down Rue de Rivoli along the Seine and past Hotel de Ville. I was on my way to dinner with Veronik, and some of her American friends at her place. Veronik is a Parisian artist. The friends Cara and Deb have been living in Paris. We had a flavorful and lovely vegan meal.
It was an amazing first day in Paris. It felt like everyone in Paris was out on a warm Sunday evening sitting on benches, sitting in cafes, filling the streets. I saw mothers and fathers walking their new babies, families, all different kinds of couples, groups of all kinds and lots of people sitting in cafes eating and watching everybody. What was amazing to me was that at midnight after dinner when I was taking the Metro back home, it was still full of people, tourists and travelers. I sat with two groups of American families on the Metro. I followed a crowd up out of the station at my stop. The streets looked different dark with the businesses closed, but I still felt safe.
Today I am having a quiet day as most museums are closed on Monday. I will see some museums Tuesday and go to dinner with a friend, Nathalie after work. Wednesday I am splurging on a French sauce cooking class in English at Le Cuisine. In the evening, Veronik and I will go to a free art exhibition and on a sunset cruise of the Seine. She says the sunset is gorgeous going out and you see Paris by night coming back in.
These city dwellers move every day in ways we didn’t in the Phoenix area. Walking to the Metro or bus, up multiple flights of stairs home, to the neighborhood bakery for bread daily and groceries all incorporate daily movement that isn’t available in suburbia with cars in the garage. It certainly reduces the need for going to the gym. The cobblestone streets give your feet a different feel also – the Austrian artist Hundertwasser would approve of the brain stimulation of walking on uneven surfaces.
Imst, Austria was where I ended up staying in the Tirol region. It was a small central town with lovely hiking trails, on the foot of the mountains. I found an affordable hotel that was well situated and stayed until it was time to take the train to Zurich and fly to Paris. One of the aha moments I had while hiking was about curiosity and compassion and how important they are to health. If we are creative and free that is wonderful sign of health, but adding in curiosity and compassion makes us more fully rounded. They connect us to the world around us. These can also fade pretty fast when people become ill. Sick people focus in on themselves and their situation until they start having energy again.
After five months of traveling (my house closed on February 24th in Chandler) I am feeling glad I am going back to the States next month to figure out the next phase of my life. I have some great things planned for the next month, but I am looking forward to hugging my family and friends and being stable for September in Ashland. I feel like figuring out permanent community housing. There are still people and places I will visit and places I plan to revisit. But I find this traveling takes most of my attention and energy. I have some projects, writing, community building and work I would like to do which a home base will support.