Back from the Continent. It was an experience not soon forgotten to visit some of the lands from which my ancestors emigrated nearly 300 years ago. It was amazing to see buildings dating from the 11th century! Paris, Lauterbrunnen, Lugano and Lausanne are unique cities, each offering charms and challenges to this would-be travelling fool.
A few observations on Paris:
In Paris, it seems that traffic lights and cross-walks are merely suggestions. The novice will stand forever at the marked crossing, waiting for brakelights and a friendly wave from the driver indicating right-of-way. The intrepid city walker, however, soon perceives a sort of logic in this seeming chaos, and realizes that one insists upon right-of-way, at which time the convention is that cars will graciously stop approximately 2 centimeters from one’s knees to allow for a safe crossing.
Walking on the sidewalks is another adventure. As in many cities, pedestrian traffic is heavy at times, and there are unwritten rules which my mother, a seasoned traveller, has yet to master. Her children were fortunately a bit more perceptive. One takes the openings one can, navigating around slower traffic, standing straight and moving at a consistent speed, emanating an attitude of purpose. Dawdling and window-shopping is strictly tight right-lane activity.
We stayed at the Hotel de Nice in the Northern Marais, a neighborhood located within the 4th arrondissement and within easy walking distance of Notre Dame. This is a lively neighborhood, but only after 9 am. I awoke and ventured out in search of coffee at 6 am on our first full day, and encountered nary a soul save the garbage collectors. There were 2 Starbucks in the neighborhood; I resorted to seeking out both in desperation, but neither were open until 8 am.
The aforementioned liveliness was particularly evident at night. My husband is a light sleeper, and caught few z’s during our four days at this hotel as the cafe downstairs hosted happy customers until approximately 4 am.