Just a few books on Paris!

I’m going to WordCamp Paris!

I am really exicted about this. I submitted a workshop on Jetpack for WordCamp Paris, and it was accepted! I will only be there for four days, one of which will be a jetlag day and two of which will be full of WordCamp goodness, so I elected to stay one extra day to walk around for as many hours as I can and see as much of the city as possible in one day (and of course, have a few pastries and glasses of wine along the way). Oddly enough, a few weeks before I even considered applying to speak there, I read How Paris Became Paris:

which was a fascinating look at the history of things like urban parks, sidewalks, the Pont Neuf, the Place Royale (now known as the Place des Voges), and other aspects of Parisian urban history. And now I’ll get to see these places in person! I even found a nice Airbnb in Le Marais neighborhood, close to Île St-Louis and Île de la Cité and all the other things I read about in that book. I can’t wait!

So, of course I did what I usually do before going someplace new: I took out a bunch of books from the library:

Just a few books on Paris!

Just a few books on Paris!

and I have extensively studied the metro and public transit maps that my friend Miguel gave me:

Le métro!

I already have my route mapped out from CDG: I’m taking the train!

Needless to say, I’m exicted! Of course, with only one full day in which to really walk around and explore, I can’t sacrifice any time to wait in line to go into any museums so (no Louvre this time), but my boys really want me to go visit the Eiffel Tower, so I hope the weather will be nice and that I’ll have a great view from the top. I’m going to try to do something like this itinerary, which will guarantee exhaustion by the end of the day!

For any of you who have been to Paris, I have a few questions:

  1. Where do I definitely need to eat (especially in the Marais area)?
  2. Which alcoholic beverage should I bring back, that I can’t find easily in Montreal?
  3. Last but not least, is there any particular noteworthy metro station that I should visit?
Stuffed Cherry Peppers in Olive Oil

Stuffed Cherry Peppers

A couple of weeks ago, I made some cherry peppers stuffed with tuna, anchovies and capers. It was actually pretty easy to do. The hardest part was dropping them in the jar without emptying out their contents. Next time, I’ll make the opening smaller.

Stuffed Cherry Peppers

  • Time: 20mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • Cherry peppers (also know as Pimientos)
  • Capers, rinsed
  • Tuna
  • Anchovies
  • Vinegar
  • A touch of salt
  • Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Cut out the stem and seeds from the peppers.
  2. Boil some water and with a bit of vinegar and salt.
  3. Dip the peppers in the boiling water for a couple of minutes.
  4. Take them out of the water, them lay them on some kitchen paper for a few hours to dry.
  5. Once dry, stuff them with capers and/or anchovies and/or tuna. I added some salt and pepper to the tuna as well.
  6. Store them in a jar with olive oil in the fridge.

They are quite salty because of the capers and anchovies so I can only really eat one or two at a sitting, along with some bread. I find that they are getting better with age, though. Since I didn’t properly sterilize the jar (I just boiled it for a few minutes) I will try to finish them soon, but I’m sure that if the jar was air-tight and sterilized, it could keep for months.

Tasty Peppers

Mass Transit T-Shirts

A couple of weeks ago, I had a Twitter conversation with a fellow Mass Transit geek about maps on t-shirts. It all started with this tweet:

Don’t those shirts look awesome?

Sara kindly shared with me a few links to other transit-themed shirts that she’d found online:

There are also lots of places where you can find unofficial shirts. Sadly, Mexico City and Montreal do not have official merchandise, but it’s easy enough to find cheap t-shirts in Mexico City.

I think I need to augment my metro map collection with t-shirts, just like Sara. Do you have any links to official merchandise stores? If so, share them in the comments!

Bonus:

Sara also has metro map mugs!

Mexico_City_Metro_and_Tren_Ligero_map1

Maps

I’ve always loved maps. As a kid, I waited excitedly for the National Geographic magazines, hoping that this would be one of the lucky months with a beautiful double-sided highly-detailed map. I’d pore over every feature of the map, looking for any oddities in the route a road took, for example, or what I considered to be strange naming conventions (West Virginia and Virginia? Baja California and Baja California Sur?). I’d try to imagine myself living in that location, and how the geography of it would affect my daily life. How would I get to school? Where would I play with my friends?

That fascination and imagination continues to this day when I look at maps. I am fascinated by enclaves, exclaves, and any other -claves you can think of. The quirks of human history and geography, laid down on a map with different splashes of colour. I try to imagine what it’s like to live in the various exclaves in Armenia and Azerbaijan. Are they cut off from their families and friends?

My love of maps evolved, however. As is well known, I am an admirer of public transit maps, especially metro maps. Why? At its core, the fascination is for the same reason. How do people go to school, to work, to play, to shop, every day in their city? Which stops are the busiest, and which are the quietest, and why? Beyond that, it’s also because the maps bestow a certain order on the organized chaos that is any modern city. No need to navigate traffic, or get lost by taking a wrong turn. You look at the map, you find your starting point, and you take the shortest route to your destination. Of course, in the larger cities (Mexico, New York, Moscow, Japan) the systems are quite complex and the shortest route may not be so obvious; but still, taking the metro is much, much easier than driving in an unknown city.

Last year, I read a book by Ken Jennings, who holds the record of the longest win streak on Jeopardy!, called Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonksand I was pleasantly surprised that I’m not the only person with this “affliction”; I nodded my head in vigorous agreement many times while reading it, saying “That’s me! That’s me!” while the cats stared curiously.

And then there are metro maps. In many cities, the metro/subway/tube is almost a symbol of the city itself. When I think of the world’s great public transit systems, I think of Paris, London, New York, Tokyo, Moscow, Mexico City, Madrid, Barcelona, and of course, my home city’s system, Montréal. And oddly enough, I am not the only one who thinks like this. There are many other people out there who are as fascinated by metro maps as I am. Take a look at this site, for example, as a recent one I found. And of course, the classic UrbanRail.Net. And then there’s the well-known book, Transit Maps of the World.

To finish off this exploration of maps, here are a few interesting videos:

Weird choice of music on this next one: