Monday, December 3, 2012
Dear Paris, part 2
24 October 2012 evening
I am so sorry we got off on the wrong foot. Thanks to your delicious food and your generous carafe of wine I do believe this actually could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
In Part 1 of my tale of Paris, I left off having finally arrived at my hotel just as evening was coming on...
I scrubbed my face, changed my clothes, sent an email to the Engineer to let him know I had arrived at the hotel, I drew back the curtains and opened my window to look out onto my little street in Paris. It was perfect really and I got a tiny bit dizzy, 'I'm in Paris!' I thought to myself, 'and I'm starving!'
I went down to reception to ask which direction I should walk and off I went out into the streets of Paris as the light faded from the sky.
I simply walked around for a while to get my bearings. Just a block or so from my hotel
(though I had no idea at the time) was the neighborhood of "Amalie" fame, near Montmartre. Cafe after sidewalk cafe, wonderful little shops, fromageries and patisseries and boulangeries oh my! It was heaven.
At last, hungry and weary from the day's adventures, I set my course for dinner. As I strolled past the cafes looking for an empty table - the cafes were at this time full of attractive Parisians eating, drinking, talking and laughing - who should I spy at a table in the corner of a cafe? The Lumberjack!
As I plopped down in the chair, I simply held my hands out in a gesture of questioning surprise. After I ordered my le pichet of Cote du Rhone and a simple supper, The Lumberjack began to unfurl the saga of his mysterious disappearance earlier that day. It involved an old gypsy woman with deft pick-pockety fingers, a labyrinthine tour of a secret Paris underground, fortune telling and a gargantuan pot of borscht. In the end he managed to charm the woman and her kin into letting him go, with the promise that he would send them all the latest "happening" music cds from America. How he found me on the rue des Abbesses, well LJ was strangely evasive about that.
No matter. I had found the Lumberjack, had a fantastic dinner, enjoyed a generous amount of French wine and was gazing out at the Parisian night with a renewed spirit. It is amazing what a bit of delicious food and some wine can do for a person!
Afterwards, I wandered until weariness overcame me and I went back to my room and slept soundly.
If you are in the area and you have the time, I absolutely recommend spending a little time walking through it. The architecture and statuary are breathtaking, and it provides a respite from the busy doings of more popular Paris sights.
The tour ended at Emile Zola's magnificent tomb; Emile being a personal favorite of the Lumberjack.
It may shock you to hear that I never made it to the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, nor the Louvre; I had this one full day in Paris and there was just so much ground I could cover. I did go to the gorgeous Musee d'Orsay for a bit, something I also recommend if you haven't the time for the Louvre. The art and the building that houses it, is breathtaking.
The day was just too stunning to spend it inside though, so I walked along the Seine in the sunshine.
Then the Lumberjack did a bit of posing with 'the jelly family'.
It was well past lunch at this point, so we headed back to the hotel neighborhood for a baquette and a wedge of cheese, as you do. For me, it was a meal of luxury and splendor for just a few Euros. I could not have felt more spoiled as I sat looking out my hotel room window, chatting with the Lumberjack about our day so far, and reveling in the gorgeous weather.
Along with my lunch, I picked up a treat, something I would never order at home as I have never been fond of them, but something made me do it. It was then that I ate the best chocolate eclair of my entire life. This was pastry madness! This bore no resemblance to overly sweet cardboard confections I had come to know in the states. This eclair changed everything!
25 October 2012
This morning with your blue skies, sunshine and wonderful croissant, I started to get a crush on you. This afternoon after the long walk along the Seine, rambling through the Musee d'Orsay, getting lost in Montmartre Cemetery and eating the most perfect chocolate eclair of my entire life, I think I am in love!
Then I strolled the avenues of the 18th Arrondissement, had surprisingly wonderful conversations with shop owners in broken French and English. I found that being able to say "I'm sorry I don't speak much French" in French, opened the way to kindnesses and a willingness to make allowances for this American woman.
When evening rolled around again, the streets came to life, the cafes were bursting with activity and it was time to sit and watch the world go by with my little pitcher of wine.
I ended up sharing a table with a couple and his mother. The man and his mother were from Peru, his wife was Czech and they both lived in Prague. She made a comment about my bag, turns out she makes bags and things like me, turns out her name was Alexandra as well! We ended up having the most wonderful time sharing stories. We wished each other well and they went off into the night.
The lights twinkled on the street, live music seeped out from various cafes and galleries, people walked and smiled as they passed by. There was more than a bit of magic in the air.
I reflected upon the day, thought how lucky I was to be here and how long it took me to get to Paris. I thought about my younger self, how when I was 16 and began reading Miller, Nin, Celine, Genet, Duras, Rimbaud, Baudelaire... how I wanted to be a writer and move to Paris... you know, that dream. And though I felt a bit sad about having never made it to Paris in my youth, it felt amazing to be in Paris now. Perhaps it was the recollection of my starry eyed younger self, or maybe the wine, but I made a solemn vow on the spot to really properly learn French! And then I giggled at myself.
The next morning I would leave Paris, soon I would head home to my sweet family.
My travels, this whole trip had been truly remarkable. It seemed so strange now that I had never been to Europe before. I thought about the bravado of youth vs. the courage of middle age and I smiled to myself. I could not have chosen a better time in my life to be a woman abroad. I am deeply grateful to have had this opportunity and so thankful to all the people I met along the way who shared with me. What an adventure!
25 October 2012 late night
You are crazy. I love you!