Trapped in a toilet in Paris! Part 1
August/September 2012 One day I decided to go for a Very Long Walk. I looked at my crumpled and stained map and thought that a nice challenge would be to go to Parc des Buttes Chaumont. It is a large, man-made park in Paris in the 19th Arrondissment. The journey there looked quite simple and straight forward. Even for me with no map reading ability at all. Well I don't actually subscribe to the idea of inability. I think that if one wants to learn something, one will. The inability to learn is because one doesn't want to. If I learn to read a map, then theoretically I'll never get lost. Now where is the fun in that? Anyway off I strolled, happy that Paris footpaths are quite wheelchair friendly. Not much bumping around or going the 'long' way due to lack of access. I do have a fair bit of physical pain from arthritis and general wear and tear, so it is a relief when paths are smooth. It took me about an hour to get to the point of my journey where the map decided to not detail all the little roads. Eg. the point where I became lost - the first time of many. I walked up a few streets, finding nothing that looked like anything except perhaps the feeling that I was possibly heading towards a dodgy, less safe part of Paris. Ending up in a dead end street, amongst factories, I thought 'Hmmm. This is a bit of a pickle'. So I retraced my steps until I came back to a street with less creepiness, and stopped a native. To my good fortune, she spoke very good English and told me the directions, which included crossing a canal. Canal? In Paris? Huh?' Anyway. Off I ventured and came across the canal. Built in some century when people using wheelchairs didn't exist, I had to go through a street market, past random shops, groups of people who looked at me curiously, dodge motorbikes, and retrace my steps TOO MANY TIMES before I found an accessible crossing. By this stage, another hour had passed and I still hadn't found the park. What was I going to do? However I was determined to reach my goal and find this park. So I soldiered on. Up and up and around and around, down little streets and through roundabouts. At least at this point I could see the street names on the map. This was definitely not the tourist part of Paris. Then, like a shining mirage glistening ahead, the park stood before me! Wrapped in an iron fence. With a locked wheelchair accessible entry. It is very lucky that I have a sense of humour. It is also lucky that a Frenchman worked out that the lock was not actually locked. In through the gates went I ... About ten minutes later I left. I was too worn out to enjoy the peace and beauty! Coming up...Part 2. Did I make it home without incident?