Life is full of surprises when you least expect them, as the saying goes. I was more intent about getting some neat photographs for my blog and filling my days with whatever Paris was offering, which was a lot this past weekend!
What a magnificent setting is was to hold Les Journées Olympiques around the Pont Alexandre III, not only of both sides of the Seine, but smack in the middle of it as well.
The astounding bridge with its gold adorned statues is in line of the golden dome of the Invalides in back and is beautiful to behold at any time. Events set against the blue sky with the regal Eiffel Tower in the background, it made for an artist’s canvas!
On the right bank events were held between the sumptuous Grand Palais and the Petit Palais and inside of the latter.
The day before I mistakenly had taken the bus, only to be deposited far from the site, near the new Golden domes of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, because of deviated bus routes.
Getting into the fenced off area was an event in itself due to all of the security needed these days. Directed to lines for the guys and one for the women, bags were searched of course, and each of us were thoroughly padded down.
I felt sorry for the ones in charge of doing this in full sun, who had a heavy burden to assure all who passed were weapon free, as the lines seemed non stop.
Getting into the Petit Palais proved to be another 15 minute wait in line and more searching to see the gymnastics.
Little ones could jump to their delight on the trampolines under careful watch of professionals, and were treated to doing somersaults in mid-air, tucked snugly in the arms of the monitors.
Outside in front were skate ramps for trick bikes and skate boards boosting performers amid loud pump up the volume type music.
Besides the strange sight of humans trying to touch the ceiling at the Petit Palais, it was even more strange to set my eyes on a wide stretch of red paved runway floating in the middle of the Seine for the running events.
Bravo to the ingenious city engineers who designed this floating running field between the fabulous Pont Alexandre and the Pont des Invalides.
On my way back crossing the Alexandre bridge, a line of people seemed glued to a barrier on one side which I didn’t know why until I overheard sometime say that dignitaries were to pass by.
The roar of the crowd rose in crescendos and dark suited men intently surveying followed photographers snapping photos while ambling backwards, a difficult feat to do I imagined.
I first recognised the mayoress of Paris Anne Hidalgo leading, then President Macron stopped right in front of me shaking hands with some guys behind me.
After snapping a few photos myself I timidly offered my hand and was surprised he reciprocated with a smile. My first Presidential handshake ever, having never seen another head of state before!
I am not a VIP, politico nor celebrity chaser at all, but I must say it was a real treat and personal honor for me to shake his hand. Yes, girls, he is quite handsome!
The Friday before I attended the C’est Bon Le Japon salon in the Marais. No dignitaries, nor surprising sights that I was to see later on Saturday, but I enjoyed it nevertheless for the cultural insight into Japanese cuisine.
As I was walking down Rosier from Saint Paul Metro, I got a photo of some Hasidic youths selling phylacteries or Tefillin, the sacred black leather prayer boxes to be worn by orthodox men.
There are always many tourists in long lines waiting to try out falafel, each one competing with famous L’as du Fallafel.
Without a doubt their chefs are very talented and passionate in their art, as many have been acclaimed in Paris serving semi fusion or pure renditions of French classical cuisine.
Unfortunately there weren’t any chefs scheduled to demonstrate classical Japanese dishes, except a talented lady who creates “design” maki ensembles to resemble flowers, animals or even the Tour Eiffel.
More interesting was a presentation of shaving the hard as a rock piece of bonito into curled red chips resembling wood shavings, but had a lovely tuna taste on the tongue. They are used to make soup stock for varied Japanese soups.
I learned that these chestnuts came from the village of Yamae, famous for their chestnuts and rightfully so. I preferred the Japanese version which did not confit them as sweet as the French do. I would have bought a jar, but not with prices starting at 35 Euros for a small amount.
I overlooked the Sake zone where for 5 euros you could taste various Sakes. Retrospectively maybe I should have, but did not feel like drinking any alcoholic beverages at 3 in the afternoon.
Perhaps for me, Sake would be more appreciated with food, as I find the yeasty overtones not very enticing to my taste buds alone.
There was a small table offering Japanese vegetables to buy , some of which I had never heard of. Of course a tea vendor was there to offer samples too and teach about the various regional teas available.
Local Japanese restaurant stands had typical foods for sale, but I refrained from those as well, again preferring to try them on site.
My only other temptation was a pretty blue porcelain bowl with raised white flowers that I didn’t want to leave without.
Nevertheless, it was interesting and I walked away grateful to be able to take advantage of these little foreign showcases that increases my knowledge and horizon.
Paris is chock full of many foreign cultural centers who put on these shows and I have attended quite a few for concerts, dance, exhibits and so forth, many for free.
This was the old stomping ground by the way for Macron, who was minister of economics under Holland before he resigned to start his own party for the presidential campaign.
The play was La Cerisaie by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. It dealt with losses suffered by a Russian aristocrat at the predawn of the Bolshevik revolution.
After having already losing a son in a drowning, the owner of a renowned cherry orchard has to deal with parting from it forever and the risks associated with vast changes life throws on her.
The play was said to have been reflective of Chekhov’s family during the time. How the obvious grief of the character played throughout touched my own.
Hanging on to property to hand down through generations may be ideal, but sometimes fate forces us to evolve through changes out of our control.
I like to think that these changes bring new adventures after the sometimes painful transitions. Adopting an open and optimistic philosophy and being flexible are key survival tactics for all of us in any situation.
Though no one should ever have to lose a child, nor be forced from their home, but life marches on with us or without us.
There are not any other good options but to take the grief with you and live life with this heavy handicap like I am attempting to do. I am certainly not alone.
I would have loved to have seen that too, but that will have to wait another year, as there was too many other interesting things that beckoned me.
Nothing like airplanes to remind us that the sky is limitless and so are we!