2015_02_02-blog imageArriving in Paris after a 10 hour flight still felt magical. I booked my flight to Romania with a 24-hour stopover in Paris. I wanted to see a few sights, taste a little of the cuisine and flex my “oh so smooth” French Language skills.

Paris is truly a beautiful city, no one can deny that. One thing that is immediately apparent is that the face of Paris is changing. Years ago when I first came through Paris, actually more than 20 years ago, I experienced, almost exclusively Europeans of an almost homogenous decent. My travels around the city yesterday and last night divulged a cityscape teeming with people of diverse nationalities.

I’ve been following France’s immigration issues for decades, especially its relationship to Africa. The African presence in Paris is truly impressive.

Those of you who know me, know that I love to take public transport when traveling. It allows me quicker and greater access to the people (pros/cons I am fully aware of).

Early in the day, travel via the metro was easy. There were very few people and seats were in abundance.

In the evening, the metro was, quite literally, a transport of insanity. People were pushing and jostling their way onto the metro, creating an extremely unpleasant sardine-effect.

The Eiffel Tower was impressive as usual. You cannot come to Paris and not visit the Eiffel Tower.

The streets are, without a hint of trying, filled with a combination of wonder, excitement, danger and desperation (a strange cocktail of almost any large urban center).

One question that I can’t seem to wrap my head around though is this, “Does everyone” in Paris smoke?”

As progressive and informed as French Culture seems, it is amazing to me the number smokers I encountered. Even in the airport there are small, enclosed cubicles behind class walls designated as smoking areas.

I’ll post the images on my facebook pages.

While I traversed the streets of Paris, it was freezing cold. Snow was falling. Seeing some of the homeless people made me wonder how the heck anyone could survive in the streets in this weather?

If I had to complain about anything, it would be the Metro during rush hour. My heart broke at seeing the multitude of people, especially women, being pushed and crowded into the metro.

Paris has grown and her growing pains reveal a not so nice underbelly of the city in the transport tunnels beneath the ground.

It took me hours to thaw out once I made it back to my hotel. I’ve got Romania on my itinerary and I’ll try to check back in with you all once I get there.

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