Around the World Without Leaving Paris
On Friday I took a journey to the Middle East. On Sunday, I traveled to China and today, I’m headed for Rome…all without ever leaving Paris.
Friday was one of the coldest days in the city — as low at 23°F/-5°C. We were bundled up to our ears and then not long after stepping off the 67 bus, we entered another world — the world of the Middle East, where we stripped down to nothing to take the plunge into the hot waters and steamy rooms at La Mosqùée.
When you pass through the doors of the “Hammam,” you enter the culture and heritage of the Byzantine era. The Turkish bath is a wet version of a sauna, which played an important role in the Ottoman empire, serving as places of social gathering and ritual cleansing. Here in Paris, it’s like no other spa you might encounter…you are surrounded by mosaics, marbles, columns, fountains and a succession of steam baths which get hotter and hotter. Unlike the spa at Baden-Baden which mixes the men and women in the baths, the women are separate from the men, and nude except for their panties.
There is no modesty nor privacy here. Massage is performed by masseuses at tables in the center of one large open room surrounded by soft mats on a platform where you can relax with a hot mint tea while awaiting your turn. All eyes are on you as your body is kneaded by experienced hands. A “gommage” scrubbing is performed on a table in another room that leaves your skin smooth as silk and in another room, you can lather yourself with a black gooey soap then douse yourself with hot water from buckets you fill yourself at any temperature you like.
While I’m not so sure I’d call it the ultimate spa experience, it’s certainly an experience of note, especially when you can have it in the heart of Paris and not in the Souk of Istanbul.
For complete information, visit http://www.la-mosquee.com
Sunday, the sun came out and warmed up our fingers and toes in preparation for the annual Chinese New Year Parade that began it’s trek through the Marais from the Hôtel de Ville up rue du Temple. The opening fireworks pierced the noise of the awaiting crowds about 30 minutes late, but by then, the sidewalks were packed like sardines.
The Chinese New Year is the second New Moon after the winter solstice and January 29, 2006 is the first day of the new year. This is the year of the Dog. There are 12 animal names, so by this system, year names are re-cycled every 12 years and the name of the year is repeated and re-cycled every 60 years. By the Chinese calendar, this year is 4703.
If you were born in the year of the Dog and follow astrology, then you might want to know that while the dog is man’s best friend, in Chinese astrology this sign is a little more unpredictable: dogs are loyal, faithful and honest and always stick to their firm codes of ethics, however, this Sign has trouble trusting others. It’s generally quite trustworthy itself — except for the occasional “little white lies” the Dog tells in order to make things go more smoothly.
I was born in the year of the Dragon — one of the most powerful and lucky Signs of the Chinese zodiac. I’m quite proud of my Dragon Lady title — as it is said that its warm heart makes the Dragon’s brash, fiery energy far more palatable. Dragons are also considered to be very lucky, particularly in love! Can you see me blushing?
For more information, visit http://en.parisinfo.com/
Today, I take aride to Rome, Italy. Rome and Paris are celebrating its 50 years as twin cities with a meeting of the mayors, Bertrand Delanoë of Paris and Walter Veltroni of Rome. The two officials will pronounce their pledges to one another before the city council at the Hôtel de Ville at 11:45 a.m. With Dragon Lady luck, I have been invited to attend the ceremony!
Then at 6:50 p.m. on the Parvis de l’Hôtel de Ville, the mayor of Rome will present a slide presentation of the city
of Rome projected on the facade of the Hôtel de Ville for all to watch. You can bet I’ll be there.
For more information, visit http://www.paris.fr/
I wonder where I’ll be tomorrow? Who knows? In Paris, anything is possible.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]
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