Hills and the Last Days…

I always think of Rome when I think of a city with Hills…. The Seven Hills of Rome?  Right?  Yesterday I had a multi-tasking day and I saw the hills of Paris.  There are a lot of them!  I had discovered the obvious – Montmartre.  And Buttes de Chaumont.  And over at Passy.  But yesterday I just noticed how hilly all of Paris is.

It started with the Bauhaus exposition at the Musee Arts Decortifs.  I have been aware of Bauhaus in a peripheral  way for many years.  This expo was a great summary of this arts “movement” that was started by Walter Gropius in 1919 and ended – pretty much by the Nazis – in the early 30s.  The idea was to combine artist and artisan.  The artist and the craftsman and to combine them from all different aspects of art – architecture, painting, ceramics, silverwork…  And I realized that I like much of this and much of it was also the favorite of my parents.  The tea sets, the silverware, the chairs…  I grew up amid them.

And the Nazis didn’t support it…  Clearly this exhibit was a long time in the planning – even some things from the Los Angeles Art Museum!  But nowadays there are many comparisons to the Nazis…  Just makes one think.

After that expo I stopped by the Scandalous Clothes expo in the same museum.  That wasn’t the real name but I forget and it was in French anyway.  So that’s a valid translation.  About how changes to fashion push the envelope – from years and years ago.  Did you know there was a law in the Middle Ages that people could not wear hoods – hid the person too much and was considered a security risk.  Much like hoodies today.

After that show, I was off to the Bibliotheque Nationale for an expo of Avedon’s France – Old World, New Look.  I have always liked Avedon’s photos.  A modern Cecil Beaton.  This exhibit was not very big, but still fun.  It opened with a room dedicated to the movie Funny Face, starring Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn based on a fashion photographer much like Avedon.  And he collaborated on the film.  I do enjoy that film – so much so I came home and downloaded it to the Ipad for possible watching on the flight home.

The Bibliotheque Nationale is the nation’s library.  And it was the first time I went here.  There it’s a huge open space deck with four large and tall towers in each corner.  Glass.  A huge mistake, I heard, after the fact.  The sun was damaging the books.  So now there are panels that can twist and act as a sun block.   Funny, but it doesn’t seem like that’s a surprising issue…. Sun… Glass… Books…

My bus let me off at the opposite side of the activity so I hiked over to a line I saw in the distance.  Unbelievably long.  It would have to be something pretty dang good to make me stand in such a line.  I asked – they said to get into the library.  So being my true American self, I went to investigate.  And it was a LONG line.  I finally found the almost beginning.  Two guards who were letting people walk down the stairs to another entrance.  So that’s the deal.  There are several floors below the plaza open space deck I came in to.  That makes the library huge.

I said I wanted to see Avedon and the guard waved me through ahead of everyone.  I was sure that couldn’t be right so I hesitated.  And another family came up and showed him some tickets and he waved them through.  When he saw me lingering, he again waved me in.  This time, using the family as cover, I went.  To discover that the line was for the large cinema complex underground.  Maybe three of us were there for Avedon.

My trip from the Bauhaus to Avedon was close to the Seine, so there weren’t hills.  But from the Avedon, I headed to Larnicol for some Kouign Amann – a delicious pastry from Brittany – what I am tasked to bring back.   The bus route took me south to Toilbac in the 13th and then back up to the 5th.  Every view on a side street seemed to be either up or down.  I was struck with the hills that are hidden by all the wonderful buildings.  And glad to be on the bus, not hoofing it.

From Larnicol, I was back south to a tabac store near Montparnasse.  Because – of course-  my phone plan was warning me that it would expire soon – like on the Sunday before leaving.  How can that be more inconvenient?  I toyed with a 5 euro plan but ended up splurging for the 20 (I usually buy the 30 euros with 2 GB).  I have only til Wednesday at 10:40 am but I have some key lunches and dinners before then and I don’t want to miss calls or texts.  Just the cost of traveling.

As is the Navigo.  That’s my transportation pass.  I normally buy monthly for unlimited.  Much better than SF or London where you get charged per ride.  So last week, I bought a weekly pass that got me through Sunday.  This morning I decided to just get another weekly pass. I might have saved 5 euros if I had bought the separate tickets but then I have to keep track of them and what the hey…  It’s in the budget.

So what am I doing in my last days?

Packing.  And I have surprised myself.  Packing is something I dread.  Well.  Not always. But specifically when returning from Europe after months.  Last Saturday I actually packed and zipped two bags.  Weighing in under 23 kg.  The third checked bag was filled with the remaining stuff and weighed in at 12 kg but I am sure I will find enough other things around that I missed so the extra cushion will be good.  Between weight and duty limits, packing and mailing must be creative.  I am so surprised that it has all gone so well.  I will have to reassess the dread level assigned to return packing and lower it to def con 1.

And I also was packing up things to leave with friends.  I am not sure about returning to this apartment so I am not leaving anything here.  Mostly because of the construction going on across the street that will continue until 2018.  And I have somethings that I would rather donate to friends than to this apartment if I don’t return soon (dread that thought!)  Like a fan, a dust buster, my printer…  Two dear friends offered so I split it up.  One drove in to pick up her share today.  The other is coming tomorrow.

This morning I had a final Kouign Amann run to another bakery for a different style.  She said they were out.  I said dang it and I was leaving the next day.  I bought a baguette, four croissants and a gallette du roi (king cake).  But then she went in the back and said she’d have some for me in a moment.  Score.  When the kouign amann was added, my arms were full.  As is my freezer.  Yes.  I have done this before.  It usually works – the cargo hold this time of year is very cold.  And this is why I have to back that last bag very carefully – not the weight but the volume has suddenly expanded.

Bags almost all packed.  Pastry all purchased and freezing.  Apartment vacuumed.  I might just wander in Paris tonight.  Tomorrow is the Eiffel Tower pilgrimage.  But tonight I might not do a lot – not a good night’s sleep so I am tired.  And sad.

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