Archive | August, 2012

PARIS ON MY MIND

13 Aug

My home may be close to selling. When it does I may be off to Paris, a place I’ve seen briefly and always wanted to live. Expensive, yes, one of the most expensive, but I’ll find a way. Then I’ll blog here about affordable spots I find.

The first time I saw Paris I wanted to stay. I had traveled on a first class tour, a much appreciated gift. We Americans traveled by bus with lots of luggage. We spent 17 days in so many countries that that old joke about waking up and not knowing my where definitely applied. Let me tell you, I enjoyed traveling slowly with a change of clothes in a bag I could easily carry so much easier and more fun. We went to fancy dinners and shows every night, I do remember seeing the Moulin Rouge, the Alps, the Italian Riviera, Vienna, but only the high spots. I remember being exhausted.

I missed the human factor, interacting with the people of the different countries, getting a feel for their cultures. And I still hear the voice of my tour guide. I kept wanting to jump out of my seat and muffle his never ending diatribe. Nothing against guides, but I would rather stumble upon sights, explore on my own, and do my own research. Also, I hated going into restaurants with 45 Americans, filling up the place with MY culture. Might as well be at home. I wanted to here THEIR language and sort of mess into their world rather than bringing my world to them.

Don’t get me wrong, many people love being led around. I love to wander, get lost even, and enjoy my adventure.

So, the second time I saw Paris I had come in from Brussels, Belgium by train. Love love train travel with it’s rhythmic sounds. I arrived with my two children. We felt so jet lagged. We arrived, maybe around eight or nine, in the dark. From the train station we had hailed a taxi. Well, our driver announced that there were no hotels. Not knowing enough French to get along well I didn’t understand why there would be NO hotels! I discovered the reason the next day. Easter Sunday, April in Paris and all that, and we had come on Saturday night. What was I thinking. I had always hated planning ahead with reservations. I liked being spontaneous and not having to hunt for a booked hotel only to find that I didn’t like it.

So I asked the driver to keep driving while I gathered my thoughts. I had a four and six year old with me. They needed shelter, or did they? I forget how high the meter went on that cab, but it had to be high. Finally I decided to have him let me out at a park where literally hundreds of people strolled around, couples holding hands and kissing mainly. It seemed safe enough under the circumstances. We felt tired but wide awake since in our internal time clocks told us that we still had a lot of daytime left. So we walked and walked, then we lay down on the nice grass until the people had dwindled and I didn’t feel safe anymore. So we left the park and when we found a beautiful neighborhood. My children couldn’t walk anymore so we rested by sitting on the only thing available, a curb on a sweet cobblestone street. Daylight began to show itself. We almost fell asleep when a spray of water misted all of us. I jumped up, looked around, and spotted the most beautiful hotel.

I thought to myself, I’ll splurge just this one night (day or Parisians). We went in feeling all disheveled and a bit damp. The clerk told me that if I could wait two or three hours he would have a room for us. We were just glad to be inside and able to wait in such a plush lobby with overstuffed tapestried armchairs, perfect for curling up with a book or in our present state, sleeping!

After an hour or so while my boys slept, I walked about 15 feet into the restaurant where I could still see my children. I ordered a Cappachino and a crescent with butter and strawberry jam, feeling very rich in these luxurious surroundings. I’m sure that same hotel today probably charges
US$400-500. The boys woke. I fed them and then were allowed to go to our room.

My youngest felt excited and happy to sleep in a huge overstuffed chair with a footstool. He fit perfectly. Before sleeping I let them raid the fridge in the room, not the liquor, of course, while I listened to an old Bette Davis movie with French subtitles. Heaven. Then a deep sleep ensued for over twelve hours.

Waking refreshed, I looked out the window. The shop across the street said Gucci! I felt so happy to be in Paris again. We walked the next day to a park with fountains and pony rides. On the way I enjoyed window shopping, admiring the fabulous fashions and jewelry while my children kept running their hands along the beautiful stone walls.

We stayed one more night to recuperate from our flight etcetera, the next day we enjoyed the adventure of walking along the Seine River. I can still hear the saxophone playing as my children found raw materials to use to make fishing poles. I really enjoyed that day and the next, which consisted mainly of our spotting the Eiffel Tower and walking toward it through grassy meadows filled with yellow wild flowers. We took pictures of each other which I will find and post one day soon.

When we got to the tower after walking and resting for about seven miles, we took the elevator to the top. I’m afraid, at that time of year at least, I felt almost smashed into it. I could have skipped this, but thought the children might love it.

Unfortunately, my children wanted to eat mainly fruits. cheese, bread, and McDonald’s ugh. I craved French food! So one evening I decided to go to a nice little restaurant. I prayed that they could sit on their chairs long enough to have a good meal, one with a French sauce. So we ordered some chicken. Never ever do I remember having such a scrumptious meal. Amazing. I had expected too much of my children, so that meal is the one I savor in my memory. Next meal we went back to McDonald’s where they could run around after they finished. I’m a slow eater.

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