10/16-11/03/2017 A quick trip to Paris. Well, this was meant to be a quick business trip, a flash back to my computer days some 20 years prior. On two-day notice, as such things go. The upside- biz class on A380, an airplane I haven't traveled on yet. Impressive in size, quietness and overall comfort. Yes this thing actually flies through the thin air. There are cameras that let you watch what's happening outside. Pretty cool.
On arrival, I had the option of taking a taxi but chose to test my skills at navigating Parisian public transport and took the train/subway combo. Figured it out (it involved a decision to jump turnstiles at some point, I'm way too old for this!). In retrospect should have just taken the taxi :) A nice bottle of wine and a snack at the hotel restaurant was my reward.
The client, soon to be my 'day job' employer, is a former boss - I invented the first smart portable storage device back in the mid 90's working for him. The new project is quite fun. This is not a place to talk about it, but let's say I'm excited. The view from the local office is cool.
Paris is famous for food and it doesn't disappoint - from hotel breakfast to random coffee at a sidwalk cafe, all is good.
There are some random things that jump out as essentially French - like this sign for toilets.
Another thing I noted - Parisian traffic is strikingly greyscale. Vast majority of cars are black, white, or shades in-between. Color is rare and really stands out when you see it.
As I dove into the project, I realized I would need some help. Coincidentally it turns out many of my car customers are computer guys with exactly the skill set and abilities that are needed here. So I turned to them - several will come onboard eventually but Neil, the first D1 owner, was first. He flew in a couple weeks after me and immediately made a big difference. Most of the trip has been work, but we did get to do some sightseeing. Champs Elysees for example. The Renault dealer here has a couple F1 cars and some mockups that customers can sit in.
There are some exotic cars parked along side streets, including some you can rent.
The traffic at Arc De Triumph is as crazy as ever and fun to watch.
Next was the Eiffel tower. I've been here before, over a dozen years ago, and things have changed. Most obvious is the airport-level security at the entrance, with armed soldiers actively scanning the crowd and everyone going through metal detectors and all bags getting x-rayed. Sign of the times. Lost thing is destroyed.
The view is as spectacular as ever. To think that it was here more than 100 years ago. If we are impressed now, what was it like for the first people to climb it?
The sunsets from the office are pretty cool too. We get to see many of them.
Another quick touristy thing I did was the Paris Catacombs. It's basically economy storage for a few cemeteries that once laid outside the city limits but when the expansion made real estate too precious to be taken up by the dead, they were dug up and stored in a limestone mine to make room for the living (or at least that's my understanding of it). There are supposedly about 6 million skeletons here. A 15 minute walk from the hotel, and a still-standing cemetary along the way, with a conveniently located flower shop next to it.
The catacombs always have a roughly 2-hour line to enter. Seems inefficient but once below it makes sense. They strictly limit the number of people who are in the tunnels at any one time, and the experience benefits. I was completely alone at some times, with a few people around at others. It is a burial ground and crowds of the living would not be appropriate.
Much accomplished business-wise, in what turned out to be a three week trip, and a bit of sightseeing too. On the way back the plane is a 777, another one that I haven't traveled on until now. Pretty cool. Even the safety video is fashion-show themed.