Creating Life at the Villa Coro di Rane

This blog is about being in the moment - creating life one instant at a time, whether in the flesh or on paper.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Wednesday, July 30 - Saturday, August 1
Wednesday morning we took the high speed train to Paris. From Rotterdam Central Station to Gare du Nord in Paris, traveling at 180 kph,  took only 2&1/2 hours, even with brief stops in Antwerp and Brussels. All of the transportation is incredibly efficient and departure times have no fudge factor.

Speaking of transportation, the bike still rules in Holland. There are special lanes for bikes on sidewalks as well as in the street, and stiff penalties for ignoring right of way priorities: pedestrian, bike, car. People confidently ride without helmets. Women ride in skirts and heels, and there are various ways of carrying children and groceries or other goods. I have seen them eating an ice cream cone, texting, talking on the phone, and holding an umbrella - all while riding. All ages ride, and it is not unusual to see even the very old pedaling.

The bike is fairly prevalent in Paris as well, although it is trumped there by the scooter. Parisian bike riders also eschew helmets, wear no special clothing, and use the bike as  just another way to get from A to B.

We decided in advance to do Paris "light"- meaning low key, without a lot of running around, We took a "Hop On, Hop Off" bus & boat tour, but didn't go inside any monuments or museums. When we hopped off it was to have coffee or a beer or wine, to eat something, or just to sit in a cafe and watch the action.

When we got off the boat tour near Notre Dame, there were several artists doing charcoal portraits. We decided to have ours done. I'll post a photo of it and you can decide whether or not it looks like us.

Parisians still smoke a lot. It seemed to me that there were many more smokers than in Rotterdam. It was common to see people smoking while walking or riding a bike and to find cigarette butts on the street.

We had a chance to ride train, tram, boat, and metro, and to come in contact with locals as well as tourists, so we felt pretty Paris-ized in spite of the short time there. Willem and I can both get along in French, and that certainly helped; but the people seemed friendlier than I remembered from previous trips. Maybe it was because August is here and many of them will be going on vacation soon. We found out that the woman who staffed the breakfast room and also cleaned the rooms in our hotel was about to leave on a 5-week vacation back to her home in Yugoslavia. 

One other thing we noticed about the locals is how many of them come from former colonies. Africans abound, many of the older ones wearing traditional dress. It makes the street scene very colorful. There are also many Middle Easterners, with women in varying degrees of coveredness; Asians of several stripes; and Roma, unfortunately holding up the stereotype.

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