Paris-- Wow, May 21st already; hard to believe. This week has really flown by, well, because of Shavuot (the Jewish holiday that celebrates receiving the Torah), it actually feels a little like a lost week. Not that we haven't been busy. Besides all the shopping and cooking we had to do for the holiday--which lasted from Tuesday night until Thursday night--we spent a lot of time walking in (drum roll) the beautiful weather!!! Since Saturday, the weather has only gotten warmer and more sunny, a complete 180 from the first two weeks we had here.
So we took advantage of that (which is incredibly easy to do in Paris) with long walks through the Le Marais neighborhood, the Luxembourg Gardens, Jardin des Plantes, and along Port de Plaisance near the Bastille. Besides being a great way to not feel so guilty about all the cheese we've been eating, it was also good to really get a feel for the city. One thing that particularly struck me was how seriously people seem to take grass. In many of the parks and gardens we've seen, there are very few designated places for people to sit/walk on the grass, and even though the large, green expanses look so inviting to weary pedestrians, people actually obey the "pelouse inderdit" (forbidden lawn) signs and opt for the metal benches or chairs instead. A little strange to get used to, but we didn't have any trouble joining the masses around the Luxembourg fountain to read and bask in the sun.
Another new experience we had this week was to go to a Shavuot service Wednesday morning in a synagogue designed by Hector Guimard, the same architect who did all of the famous Metropolitain signs and entrances in Paris (and in the East Wing of D.C's National Gallery). The service was a little strange, poorly attended because there had been an earlier one for all the people who had stayed up until 5:30 in the morning learning (a Shavuot tradition). One of the leaders struck up a friendship with Ben and even gave him a part in the service (dressing the Torah). It was cool to see yet another culture's subtle variations on the same traditions, even if I was totally confused until Ben found Hebrew/English prayer books about half an hour in.
Ok, I need to wrap things up because we are getting ready for Shabbat (yes, another holiday!), but in short it's been a really good, busy but relaxing week, and we are getting very excited to welcome the Samson family on Tuesday!
Links and photos to come Saturday night.
P.S. Congratulations to all of our friends and family who are graduating this month!