This past weekend, I traveled to Paris for my last class (finally). I enjoy going to Paris for the weekends, but the work load of the class is by far the most of the four I have taken. It’s good to finally be done with class and have that part over with.
This time, I went to Paris on Saturday morning. I stayed with the couch surfer I met in Poland and then stayed with me in Prague. He lives in Paris, so it all worked out well to meet again. I arrived near his flat around 1 pm, but he didn’t get off work until 6 pm so I just walked around the area. He lives on the very far east part of Paris which is much more local. I found a little festival going on which was highlighting the sports programs this fitness center offered. I stuck around there watching people demonstrate karate, people dancing to country music, and a typical South American dance (which I think was Peruvian). After this, I walked around more and walked over the bridge overlooking a major highway. All of the cars were stopped and there were hundreds of motorcycles on the on-ramp. Apparently this was some kind of protest. I think the cars were stopped for at least 20 minutes as the motorcycles dominated and took their time getting onto the highway. People are literally always protesting or striking in Paris.
After this, I found a park and watched a bunch of guys play Pitonk (spelling might be wrong). It’s a game a lot like Boche ball, but it’s played In parks on gravel type surfaces. I think it’s pretty typical in France.
On that night, my couch surfing host took me out with a bunch of his friends. It was good mix of people from the Ivory Coast, France, Romania, Bulgaria, and others. We had a great time but I had to get home early to get some sleep.
The day before I left for Paris, I saw an article on ESPN.com talking about the French Open. Slowly, my brain connected the dots and I realized that I was going to be in Paris. I have been to Wimbledon, toured the Australian Open stadium, and seen the US Open stadium from the outside. I figured this might be my last chance to see the French Open. I found a ticket online straight from the box office. It wasn’t cheap, but I was willing to pay the price for the experience.
I got to the stadium right when the matches were starting. I got my ticket to the main court and about 20 rows up diagonal from the court. Unfortunately, none of my favorite players were playing on the first day. The best players I saw were David Ferrer from Spain and Tsonga from France. I walked around the side courts to get my bearings and saw Maria Sharapova practicing. She’s been one of the better players in the world for several years, and I saw her at Wimbledon 3 years ago. Being at the French Open was a great experience. I must say that it wasn’t as unique as Wimbledon, since Wimbledon is extremely traditional and posh. However, there was a large number of people at tennis grounds (I’d guess maybe 50,000 for the day but I could be way off) and was very cool to see the courts that I’ve seen on TV many times.
After the matches, I went and had dinner with my class group team. Having dinners like this in Europe is always fun. Whenever you have a group of people, you can plan on being there for at least 2 hours. Always relaxed, no rush, dessert and coffee at the end, and no worries at all. With a British, an Italian, and a Saudi, there is never a dull moment. After the nice dinner, we went and prepared for our last presentation. We haven’t received our final grade yet, but we were told it should be a 95% of so. I’d be happy with that as a final class grade!