It is hard to describe how thankful I am to my kind friend Lucila and her boyfriend, Thierry, for welcoming me into their 1890’s beautifully renovated Parisian flat with a curved entry door located at the top of a circular staircase five flights up (see pics) –especially on such ridiculously short notice. I arrived during a work week, so while they worked I scoured the city for two long days for all that I needed. It was really special to catch up over some lovely evening meals (notably one that included baguettes and champagne actually from Champagne, FR (so flipping French!), and one that included a fine rainbow popping out over their home) before they departed for a wedding in Spain.
I did a pretty good job getting Steel back together –all but his front brakes (although my blackened fingers and nails may never recover…hmmm, about some gloves!). Holland Bicycles, a cool neighborhood bicycle shop was able to deduce that a spring failed and new brakes were needed. Aside from little things like finding a plug adaptor (which I found at a hardware store finally) and various cycling and gear related odds and ends, my biggest challenge was getting a cellular phone set up.
My supposedly “open” Droid Bionic phone (I was assured by my carrier Verizon that it was open), did not work when a French SIM card from SFR was put in it. SFR is one of the major cellular providers in France. Ultimately, I purchased a cheap “open” phone for $20 EU and the SIM card worked, and the nice worker loaded my $15 EU of credits. I can call and text in France or internationally, but no data is available. No data is fine by me because I only intended to use free wifi access on my phone or Ipad as data usage on pay as you go plans is crazy expensive. The international calling and texting is pretty expensive too, so I intend to use Skype for phone calls, and WhatsApp for texting, when I have wifi access.
I was reminded in the grocery store today of the time my Ohio friend came to visit me in Ireland and could not get over how the grocery stores did not carry grape jelly, Kool-Aid (or any other powdered drink), or beef jerky. I had one of those moments today. My staple riding food has been peanut-butter, honey, and banana sandwiches on a bagel -typically one for breakfast and one for lunch, and Ramen noodle concoctions for dinner. I even carried honey with me to Paris, but I was totally unprepared to not find peanut-butter, or Ramen noodles–even in a big supermarket! They did have bagels, but they were three times the cost of regular sliced bread. Wow…now what? What sort of high-calorie lunch will keep on my bike all day? Clearly a baguette must be in the mix as they are cheap, plentiful, and delicious. I shall tried for sandwiches on a baguette with cured meat (ham or salami) and some vegetables, and perhaps switch it up a bit with butter and jam. I’ve been forewarned about the many challenges of eating cheese while cycling, so I’ll save that for an occasional dinner treat. I’m oddly going to miss my PB & J.
I was going to depart the day they left for the wedding, but they so so so nicely suggested that I stay and make sure I had everything ready before leaving. This was HUGE…as I was absolutely not ready. I had gathered all that I needed, but I still needed to get a few things onto Steel and I had not yet planned or researched bicycle routes through France, let alone tested how my GPS works). That planning part is probably pretty important as it turns out that France has some major mountains. Who knew? Ha! Furthermore, I have not done any dissertation writing in quite awhile, nor seen any French sights. I hope to do all of that over the next few days. Bring on Europe!
P.s. I found a French equivalent of Ramen noodles (see photo)…I’m excited to try them.