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Comme le Noir et Blanc

A double entendre

all seasons in one day 55 °F

Bonjour, bon apres midi, bonsoir, bon nuit.

Adieu Egypte, Je ne vous manque pas ... en ce moment.

So...um...this is hard for me given my history with the travelling French (bless you all but duh, it's a thing), oh so hard to type....arg...lord help me....so far...give me a moment here to clear my fingers' throats....I think I love Paris. Let me say that again with more form. I LOVE Paris! It's London, New York, Chennai, Pondichery, Edinburgh, Lima, Cairo and others I've been to all wrapped up in an easier to navigate, easier to metro, gorgeous(er) to look upon, wonderful(er) to sense, polite(ish-er) to interact with, wonderfully smelling, good-lord-is-everyone-here-height-to-weight-proportional...(er?) city.

Maybe this is because I just came from Egypt but really, I think I get the Paris thing now. I have to apologize for blanket stereotypes I may or may not have expressed about the French in the past. I haven't spent much time yet but I don't see my experience changing within a week unless I myself decide to be an asshole. The folks here have been so helpful, so patient with an idiot American who has only two years of high school French to rely on. Everything here is a pleasure to look at...lol It almost feels sinful. It's winter and half the women still wear short skirts and black nylons :-/ Now paste them in front of Notre Dame (with equally stylish men), then add a fresh croissant and a mocha, after learning how to tie your scarf in a Parisian knot.

Granted, some of this feeling has to be due to the fact that a month ago I was still picking the dust out of my fingernails after bumping along Uganda. If I'd come straight from comfort and reliably hot showers maybe I'd be more cynical but as for me....Merci Peris. Je t'aime.

That being said...a little backpedaling is necessary. I finished up my time in Egypt with what I chose to look at as a pilgrimage up Mt. Sinai. It was wretched and wonderful as a pilgrimage should be. Some of the wretched was my fault and that of the description given to me. Be more prepared when you go, especially if you go in the winter months. I had a wind-breaker and a scarf. Bring a coat.
My day was also over saturated to begin with. I started at 8am to get to an impromptu quad-bike safari in the desert outside of Hurghada. Another concession from the tour operator for slips earlier on. I didn't much want to go and should have slept it off ;-) This is one of those herky-jerky, campy tourist events one tries to avoid. A 30 minute trek out to a sort-of-Nubian-village, tea given by a bored young man in a getup who would rather be watching YouTube, a plop upon a camel's back to take a 4 minute ride around a circle, and back to the garage. Give it a miss.
I was then deposited at the beech to wait for a flight to Sharm el-Sheik, after which I was to wait for three hours at the bus station to take a 3+ hour ride to St. Catherine, where we would wait for a couple hours in the nip to start the climb at about 2am. This is where we insert the wonderful bit. Do lag behind the group when you go. The flashlights are completely UNnecessary given even a hint of moonlight and become distracting to the point of angst for anyone accustomed to night vision. It's a slog for sure. Trekking websites rate it as "strenuous" but I'd put it between that and moderate. You'll make it. The stars are brilliant, the mountain in moonlit relief is intimidating enough to get the juices going. The periodic supply points become friends offering carbs and chocolate and hot drinks.
By the time you reach the 750 steps to the top you will be properly tired and chilly having waited for the right time to ascend in order to catch the sunrise with minimal exposure to the freezing temps and open air conditions at the top (again, winter).
According to the troop guide this will have been 7km plus 750 steps.

The sunrise, while wrapped in a rented horse blanket that juuuust sufficiently held back the worst of the brisk, was something burned in memory. I swear I heard horns in deep timbre while the light grew. No pics. Not even for me. Some things should be like that yeah? I DID take you a pick of the mountains well after sunrise however.

7 much easier clicks back, a nonsense and unneeded tour of the monastery of St. Catherine (sorry...an unkempt overgrown shrub is most likely not the original Burning Bush but bless the verve), lunch, three hours to Sharm, three hours waiting for another 6 hour bus back to Cairo and oh blessed be, first horizontal position in over 40 hours. Worth it.

Couple days of my beer and shawarma haunts in Cairo and voila, Paris for a week.

I know I'm going to get back to taking scads of pics here so I wanted to get while the going is good. The double entendre in the title refers to the difference between the Arab state and Parisian plus the fact that I will most likely post about 90% black and white of Paris. I just prefer it for Gothic and public scenes. Everything really...lol

Today was up at 8, a visit to one of the Montemarte bakeries for two fresh croissants and a good walk towards Notre Dame fueled by cafe au lait. We will see Saint-Chapelle, Eglise Saint-Eustache, Tour Saint-Jacques, L'Hotel de ville de Paris, Forum des Halles (a mall) and more than one photo of Notre Dame (outside only for now, was getting late to go in today). All of these sights barring Notre Dame were accidental...lol I just recognized the names on signs or headed off towards the obvious this-must-be-something-ness of them. Pure wandering. I love it.

I even decided to catch La La Land at the Cite Cinema in the Forum. Quite the lovely flick and who doesn't love Emma Stone....and that one guy...lol
Oh he did a good job too. I enjoy seeing movies in different countries because most of the time we get out and are like, well that was that, what now? Dinner? Get back to the kids? But in places like this you get to take a break, exit, look around and go "oh yeah, off to Notre Dame!".

This is not snobbery...lol It's incentive for you ;-)

Thanks for spending time with all this. Cheers and love,

Shane

P.S. Heidi should juuuust now be settling in at Cuzco after her first bit of harrowing all-by-myself-travel in Peru. I know she'll benefit from any positive wishes sent for a first time solo-traveler so if you find the thought please send it through the ether. Even if she is spoiled ;-)

Posted by sbinnell 11:21 Archived in France

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