foreign travel

Transit, Layover and Paris 1 – World Trip 2013: Part 6

View from our hotel window in Paris Latin Quarter

View from our hotel window in Paris Latin Quarter

On the 10 hour flight back to Helsinki from Bangkok on Finnair, I watched 2 very good movies: Broadcast News (about TV news in the 70s and a love triangle that does not work out) and BlancaNieves (a wonderful silent film about the daughter of a bullfighter in the 30s).

We laid over in Helsinki, ate fresh caught salmon and fresh picked blueberries and strawberries and raspberries and black currants. Then on to Paris.

Me posing next to my favorite statue in Paris - the mask seller in the Jardin de Luxembourg

Me posing next to my favorite statue in Paris – the mask seller in the Jardin de Luxembourg

My Paris. My third home (after Dallas and Denver). Beautiful as always, if a bit moody with her occasional drizzle and showers. She reminds me of my daughters. I am sure a part of their souls remains in Paris, along with the millions of others who have at least visited if not spent years of their lives there.



I inhabited Paris for 5 years, from 1988 to 1993. Tumultuous years, a time that re-enforced my early interest in art and writing – years that took me to countries all over the world (for Schlumberger as well as on my own) – years that helped make me who I am – years that I hold dear.

I walk my Paris, the Latin quarter, the Marais, along the Seine, and remember those years in Paris and the dozens of trips I have taken to revisit her.

Steve and I visited the Montparnasse cimetiere, saw the tombs of Sartre (Being and Nothingness philosopher famous for saying, ‘To not decide is itself a decision’) and Serge Gainsbourg (ugly, chain-smoking provocative French singer and songwriter who managed to have relationships with 2 of the most beautiful women in the world in the 60s and 70s, Bridgette Bardot and Jane Birkin).

Steve and I walked the Montparnasse Cimetiere

Steve and I walked the Montparnasse Cimetiere, discussing our own mortality

Only a few months back it seems I brought my youngest daughter Veronica and her 9 year old son Andrew with me to Paris.

Andrew is a special case. Ever since he could walk he has shown an interest and a knack for spaces and shapes and buildings. He loves to draw diagrams and blue prints. Perhaps one day he will be not an Enterprise Architect like his great Uncle Steve, but a Space Architect.

Grandson Andrew and me in Paris some months before this trip

Grandson Andrew and me in Paris on a previous trip in 2012

Why did I take Andrew to Paris (of all my grandsons and granddaughters), and why will I try to take him on world travels in the future? Because I have been instructed to do so by the Head of Architecture at the University of Texas in Austin. You see, I wrote to him in 2010 (Professor Benedikt), telling him about Andrew’s talent and interests, and sent him a sample drawing Andrew did of a swimming pool, and this was his advice:

“Andrew must travel the world, to experience all the different architectural styles. And when he is older you need to apprentice him with an architectural firm.”

I thought this advice to travel the world was marvelous. To expose oneself to all different cultures and people. To make your life richer.

Daughter Veronica and grandson Andrew by river Seine, Paris 2012

Daughter Veronica and grandson Andrew by river Seine, Paris 2012

Note I intend to nurture all my grandkids – I just need to see where each one’s talents lie.

Anyway, back to the specifics of this particular enriching trip.

Monday Steve goes on to Bordeaux while I leave for Russia – first Ekaterinburg for a 3 day Mineralogical Tour of the Ural Mountains, then on to work a week at our software lab in Chelyabinsk. I will then fly to Russia’s Paris, St Petersburg, for a long weekend wandering that famous city. Then back to Paris to visit some of my writing friends, and last on to York in the UK for a literary festival. Grandson Andrew (the Architect) has instructed me to take many pictures.

Lines of people waiting to ascend the Eiffel Tower

Lines of people waiting to ascend the Eiffel Tower (in Paris even the lines are artistic)

End note: For completeness sake I should tell you first I had confit de canard tonight – hmmm. Then I wanted to share the letter I sent to the professor about Andrew, a letter that the professor read to his summer school architecture class that year (whose final assignment, as fate would have it, was to design a swimming pool!). The professor had each of his students write a letter to Andrew giving advice on becoming an architect, letters that I have saved.

Mr Benedikt,

I am writing to you on behalf of my grandson, Andrew Garcia, who at age 7 shows a remarkable interest in architectural drawings and has spatial/memory skills if not a touch of spatial genius. I am hoping you can recommend action I can take in the coming years to help him develop his skills to the fullest.

Let me give you a little background on Andrew, “tics” of his if you will, and maybe you will understand why I would make this effort to contact you for advice.

1)      At his first bounce house party around the age of 4, he wasn’t so interested in bouncing as he was at studying the air pump and how it kept the house inflated

2)      Since the age of 5, he began sketching the layouts of every restaurant we would attend, starting while eating dinner, then finishing at home from memory

3)      He loves to get hotel layouts when we travel, and mall layouts, and apartment complex layouts, and he spends hours upon hours re-copying them by hand

4)      At the age of 6, he started sketching neighborhood layouts from physical maps and google maps; at one time he had memorized the streets in a mile circle around our house, not only their names but also a lot of their twists and turns, and how many houses per street, as he copied and re-copied the street layouts; he takes long drives on google maps, using the mouse, from our house to neighboring cities

5)      He has drawn the layout of his elementary school at least a thousand times from memory (see one of his more simple examples enclosed – and note the dots in each room as these are the loud speakers – also note the principal’s loud speaker system drawn out of scale in the middle of the school drawing, as that system fascinates him)

6)      This past week we went to 2 different swimming pools – when we got home he drew them from memory (see attached)

Andrew is a great kid, and I’ve never heard of or met a child who spends hours a day doing architectural drawings, or even paying so much attention to the physical space they are in. Perhaps he is meant to excel in that field, if he gets the right help.

Thank you for taking the time to read this,

Ray Else

Featured Book and Story by Ray Else
All that we touch First Kiss story


2 replies »

  1. I’m so glad you and Steve were able to re-visit Paris together. You both had lots of good memories from that time. Paris does get in you heart and soul, I love it!

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