Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Saint Valentine's in the City of Romance

Another Saint Valentine's Day has passed by without a lover to share it with but I decided to do something with the night anyway. I went to Paris to meet up with Rachid who is a couchsurfing ambassador. He is also a Paris tour guide and knows a lot of people socially. He invited me to meet him at a British pub called the Lions. It's a sports bar where couchsurfers meet up, in the second arrondissement. It became jam-packed while we discussed tour guiding, love and romance, philosophy, politics and following one's dreams. Later we went for a walk through the parisian streets, past the Louvre, along the Seine and across Pont des Arts- the lovers bridge.

It connects the Louvre with the Institut de France (seen in the background in the photo).

"The Pont des Arts was originally built, of iron, in 1804. It was rebuilt in 1883. Fragile, it was damaged often by boats, so much so that it was closed in 1970. It was finally rebuilt again in steel, in 1985. The name of the bridge is derived from the name of the Louvre (then called the Palais des Arts) at the time of its first construction. The bridge was designed by engineers Louis-Alexandre de Cessart and Jacques Lacroix-Dillon."

Yes, there were lovers on the bridge - some were clasping each other in various poses, some were sitting on the ground having a picnic with their duvets for shelter, well, it was cold but clear. And then there were the padlocks. Hundreds of them. It is the tradition for lovers to attach a padlock with their names on it, to the bridge to symbolise their life-long attachment to each other. All shapes and sizes and even colours were represented-what a surprising sight.

Ah Paris was beautiful, as always; splendidly lit, tranquil but with a relaxed purpose. Rachid and I parted company at the metro St Michel, by the fountain. Tour guiding doesn't seem to be a goer for me right now. Apparently you need to be self-employed and find your own clients. This requires research, marketing, time and some other income while you are setting things up. Plus, you need a specialty. Darn.

As you can see, I'm looking for ways I could possibly stay in France. I'm feeling a bit jittery with only a few months left, the possibility of being evicted from the place that matters most is more than depressing, it's scary-I have nowhere else to go, nowhere else I'd choose to go.

Oh well, optimism brought me here, maybe it can find a way for me to stay.

There were no trains running to Chartres at that hour so I had to wait until 00.30hrs for a train to Cafeolait which took an hour to get there. Fancy me being out so late by myself on Saint Valentine's Day but I remind myself that I don't have to rush home to kids, husbands, animals or any other commitments. It's OK for me to do other things with my time but really difficult to break the mindset and habits of a lifetime. I need practice in living 'freely and spontaneously'.

Photos are off the internet this time, of Pont des Arts.


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