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The trip was straightforward this year — a non-stop flight to Charles de Gaulle. I got almost no sleep, and am still a bit jet-lagged, but there were no particular problems. There was the usual chaos at the airport train station, since their ticket vending machines take only chip-and-pin cards or coins, but I had some left-over bills from last year and I found a bill-to-coin machine, so I was able to get a ticket pretty efficiently. Most of the trains go express to Paris, but the board also lists dozens of stops after Paris. I figured this out pretty quickly, however, and was even able to help a confused Frenchman get on the right train.

When I got to the apartment I was initially bemused by how run-down it is, and there are problems that do need to be fixed. But my first visitors helped me realize that it’s quite livable, and the excellent location makes up for a bit of shabbiness. (Like last year on rue Saint-Sauveur, the shower drain was plugged, but after a missed rendezvous with one of the owners I bought a plunger and cleared it out myself. Judging from the size of the hairball this hadn’t been done for years, but the drain now works perfectly.)

After I bought a few necessaries — and had a quick nap — Lisa and Aya came for a visit, shortly followed by Ali. While we have Skyped a few times this was my first in-person meeting with Aya, who was very much in evidence last June, but not yet born. I got a few mother and daughter pics that are worth sharing:

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Uncle Ali got a piece of the action as well:

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By the time Joël Zhizhong Yao arrived Aya was falling asleep so Lisa and Ali said a brief hello-goodbye and headed home. Zhizhong and I caught up a bit, then went out to dinner. We foraged eastward, past Bastille, and ended up at a cute, typical bistro called Chez Paul, on rue de Charonne. We had no reservations so the rather dour maitre d’ made us wait more than half an hour, along with several other hungry patrons. The atmosphere was terrific and the company excellent.

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I was underwhelmed by the food itself … but two out of three isn’t bad!

Today was a day of firsts (for this year): Vélib’ ride (along the Seine); métro pass; Grindr date. But it’s late now and I’m off to bed! One touristy pic will have to hold you over until the next post.

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