Two little Boston Terrier girls bring their Momo & Mr.Momo to Paris for a long stay. These are the tales of their very fine adventures.


All Things Music - The Metro, Part Trois

Momo thinks of the Metro often. Even L&P miss the Metro. In Paris, L&P, if they could only speak French, could buy their own cartes and enjoy the Metro sans carriers. Here they are allowed on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit - imaginative name, huh?) but they must be in an enclosed carrier. Yes, they can have air holes, but the whole thing must be zipped up - no cute heads peaking out, and they are absolutely not allowed to buy their own tickets. Actually they have no need for tickets because they would be considered our carry on bag where in France they often had their own seats and could walk on the train on all four little Frito Feet.

Momo and Mr. Momo decided one day to take advantage of our very own Metro-BART and travel into San Francisco by train. We typically drive into San Francisco, and it can take 45 minutes or 35 hours just like other big cities. In Paris, one can travel from one end of the city to the other quite quickly by train. Here, we must drive to the BART which is about 40 minutes away and then must wait for the train, get on the train, and stop every few feet until we get into San Francisco. This happens about 45 minutes later. While that might not seem outrageous, consider that it only takes 10 more minutes to drive into the heart of San Francisco after driving to the BART. Of course we could have taken the CAL Train to the BART. CAL is like the RER - the same only different. CAL train runs pretty often , but not as often as the RER, and CAL goes through many different towns before it eventually reaches San Francisco. It also travels on the surface streets right through many intersections so it is a stop and go kind of thing. More often than anyone likes, there are accidents at these intersections. Drivers who are stupid and stop on the tracks at a red light though it tells you to not do that. Or even pedestrians who manage to think they too can beat the train. They mostly don't. The RER is much more sensible. It was built not as a total afterthought, but as a serious means of transporting people into Paris. Parisians area much more sensible than Californians it seems. All except when it comes to high heeled shoes.

In New York City, the subway is much more similar to the Paris Metro. At least people rely on it to get where they need to be and it seems to work most days. It is also Momo thinks, the most similar to Paris in dignity (oh please stop laughing) and architecture. There are some gorgeous subway stations in NYC as well as in Paris. However, here in CA, the train stations look like a granola bar Metro. All angles and trying to be hip and cool. At some of the stops it looks like they forgot to finish the station. The only way you know it is open is that the BART stops there and people get on and off. As far as the CAL train stations go, they are mostly quite frightening. They look like a long forgotten train depot, the ghost of Harry Potter past perhaps.

CAL train does have something that both NYC and Paris don't though. The Christmas Train! Yes indeed. At holiday time, or should I say extended early holiday time, which by our calculations should be next week, a flat bed CAL train will arrive at certain stations in the evening with Santa, helpers, elves, and and even Mrs. Claus. And music. Very jolly music. And free candy. The whole event is staged to advertise the commuter train service offered by CAL. Since most of the people who come to see the holiday event drive and plug up the local traffic so that it is at a standstill, Momo thinks the message gets lost. But the music is festive. And the candy is colorful. L&P merely think Santa is odd because he won't give them candy, and they don't appreciate festive holiday tunes.

L&P prefer the music in the Metro. In Paris. One of the best parts of the Metro in Paris is the music. That's right. The music. If you travel around on the Metro on any one day you can be treated to French Horn music, opera, violin, and assorted other odd things. Even groups. We came across a really great group of musicians who were playing assorted instruments and singing. I think they call those "bands". Seriously, it was a little ensemble. They were even hawking self produced CDs. I liked the harmony and wish we had bought one. We never did get a chance because although we stopped to listen, P decided it was her calling and started joining is both barking and humming it seemed. From the frowns we were getting it was time to leave. That girl thinks she is a star. L, was appropriately peeved.

Another time, in fact, many other times, we came across a very good violinist playing some lovely music. She was always friendly and nodded and never lost her place even though her violin bobbed with the nod. I think she enjoyed L&P strolling by. They were never as impressed with the violin because I think what they heard might have been a little too much for their radar ears. But Momo's all time favorite was the French horn player who played Ave Maria in a loop for weeks it seemed. Every single time we were in that station there would be the mournful horn singing out Ave Maria over and over. It was haunting. L&P were startled at first, but soon, after the 6th week got quite used to it. In fact, P can still hum a few notes.

Here is the thing that makes music so beautiful in the Paris Metro. Acoustics. The place is made to carry sound in that haunting quality way. You certainly won't find that anywhere else I suspect. There are layers and layers to the Metro. Some lines are stacked 3 deep and are already way underground. You could come up on the other side of the earth if they layered it any deeper. The music carries and carries. You could be miles away and still hear the haunting sounds following you. And because the chatter in the Metros in Paris, for all the people traveling underground, is really quite quiet, the music is extra special because it almost floats over everything else.

If Momo sounds a bit homesick, she is. There just is not anything like the Metro in Paris anywhere else. L&P agree and would like to become honorary carte orange holders. We all rate the music in the Metro a big 10.

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