CUWAM- Destination Paris
Warning: You are entering long blogging territory
I left Sydney with a stomach full of dumplings, a suitcase packed only hours before and a coffee buzz from the extra shot cappuccino I had ordered that morning. The silent barista at Parc café had wished my bon voyage…I was on cloud nine!!
It was going to be a long flight, departing Sydney at 5pm, first stop Bangkok, then London and finally Paris….the city of love and much expectation.
The time was passed on the plane by watching many movie’s…who knew how captivating the documentary about Brazilian formula one race drive Aryton Senna could be…I was taken back to the year 1994, when at 16 years of age I heard about his untimely death on the race track of Bologna, Italy….
From there I moved onto the romcom Something Borrowed, backing it up with the comedy Win Win Failing to keep my eyes open, I passed out mid movie and awoke with 2 hours to go till touch down in London…I decided to sneak in one more film, Midnight in Paris, a perfect lead up to my impending rendezvous with the city….A superb cast, headed by Owen Wilson, a whimsical look at the Paris of yesteryear…Owen Wilson, I love you…will I meet someone like you on the streets of the Latin Quarter?? Fingers crossed….
And here I am….lying in bed, typing on my computer in the Latin Quarter of Paris ( Owen Wilson or someone like him in not yet beside me) It is morning three and I have taken to writing down the events of the past 2 days…
Paris I love you, but I have realised that in my wonderings so far I am searching for the Paris of 2009, a Paris that does not exist anymore….The Paris that does is the Paris of September, 2011…and no amount of walking the streets, searching for the characters that filled my adventure two years ago, will make them reappear….That is something I am struggling with….
I left Sydney with no clear idea in my head of how the journey would pan out….Some might say that was careless of me, that in order to have a good time, certain practicalities have to be taken care off…With the theme of my blog being catch up with a mate, the first requirement might have been a travel companion??!!
But travel catch ups have been put in place…in Copenhagen, New York and the United Kingdom…Hell, I might look back on this part of the trip as the glory days of my freedom, freedom to eat a pastry with 512 calories for breakfast ( can you guess where I am heading next!!)
Reviewing the highlights of day one….it would be fair to say that eating a Banana at Heathrow airport was a real treat. Priced at 50p, I could not resist…having no eaten this fruit for close to 6 months….the humble banana, the unlikely first highlight of my European adventure.
The conversation with the two Aussie travels from Bendigo, Victoria, heading to Paris for the first time…Though both tired, the girls were excited and that excited me…The quick chat with the honeymooners heading to the city of love…David, the husband look generally surprised when I guessed they were newlyweds, but the healthy sized rock on his new wife’s hand was a dead give away!!
And some 27 hours after I left Sydney, I arrived at Hotel Des Mines, St Michel Boulevard, Latin Quarter, Paris….Home for the next 5 nights….Dumping my bag, I then took to the streets…First stop, Luxembourg Gardens…Planting myself on a chair in the park it was hard to believe I was back…Back to the city that had stolen my heart two years earlier…..
A coffee in Bastille followed, at Café Industrie, and from there I proceeds to walk back to my hotel detouring passed the Notre Dame Cathedral….It was on my way back to my hotel that I felt a fleeting sense of loneliness, mixed with happiness and joy…feelings so overwhelming that I felt the urge to cry…My rational brain then kicked in and blamed jet lag…but to this day ( yes only two days later) I am not so convinced…For I like to think it was way of opening myself to the adventure that lay ahead, in whatever form it takes, the unknown and its capacity to evoke both fear and excitement…
Paris : Day Two
Warning: Read on only if you can handle more love notes on Paris
Believing that I knew Paris I set off in the direction of Rue Mouffetard Markets for breakfast…despite being located a mere 10 minute walk from my hotel I arrived at my destination an hour later….And for some reason I thought that I would once more be serenaded over breakfast by a Moroccan Opera singer ( it happened in 09) but alas, breakfast for one, was indeed breakfast for one…
I then had ideas of shopping…H&M, Zara, Parisian shoes…so I headed off in the direction I was sure the underground mall, Les Halles was in…Again, my sense of direction was TOTALLY off…So much so that I struggled to get out of the mall once I actually got inside…Now don’t get me wrong, it is every girls dream in get stuck in a fashion mall once in a while….But it is getting tragic when you can see the blue sky out a window, but just can’t find a way to stand under it!!
A good hour later, and free at last, I needed an espresso coffee, a quick heart starter, and from there I set off for the Georges Pompidou Centre, a modern art gallery…to ponder the meaning of life, modern art and the Parisian skyline.
Day two passed without a hitch, but I was left with the feeling that I was trying to relieve the Paris of 2009.…when the sun had shone and I had spent my time with the best of friends, Steph Lee….Well, this is 2011 and Steph ain’t here….I am alone, the sun ain’t shining and two years have passed…I knew something was drastically wrong when I dined at Moaz felafel house in the St Germaine precinct for dinner…This was a felafel house I had stumbled upon in 2001 with my then travel buddy, now life long friend, Lauren Gray….Was I indeed pining for travel experience of a decade ago??!!
As I finished my salad infused felafel ( yep, you can still self serve your felafel roll with as much gorgeous salad as your desire) I decided that tomorrow, I would no longer go in search of the Parisian experience, I would let it find me….I would not have expectations of how a pastry would taste, how spectacular a coffee would be, how divine ‘anything’ French was….rather I would just immerse myself in the moment, no expectations, no whimsical notions of how something should or should not be…I would take it on the chin. Bring it on Paris 2011
Paris : Day Three
Warning: The love story continues…feel free to get off this train at any time!!
Nothing like walking to a boulongerie ( pastry shop), feeling totally overwhelmed and leaving the store with possibility the most boring items on offer…Well that happened to me…A pastry snail and a mini brioche….Both absolutely divine, but boring when compared to delights that decorated to shops shelves…Tomorrow I promise to do better…custard, cream and more buttery pastry goodness is in order….
I ate my pastry at the delightful Luxembourg Gardens…a favourite park of mine…so beautiful, so manicured, so very French….And from there I took to the metro for I had decided to relocate parks for the afternoon…Armed with a the obligatory picnic items of a baguette and cheese I was heading to Parc de Monceau…
I was inspired to visit Parc de Monceau as it featured in one of my favourite scenes from the movie ‘ Paris Je Tiame’ ( Paris I love you)…And true to the film, though I picnicked alone, feelings of loneliness evaporated as the familiarity of Parc De Monceau’s beauty won me over…..
On a whim some hours later, I took the metro to Bastille and returned to Café Industrie…and to my surprise was greeted by an old friend….Meme, the Parisian cat that featured in photos at my 31st birthday, was sunbaking in the café window….It was a wonderful reunion, as I sipped my café latte Meme baked herself on the window sill….My how she had grown, for I had met her as a kitten….’ She is a princess’ remarked the café waitress ‘ She loves it when people stroke her’…and that is what I did…Meme, it was great to see you again….
Inspired by my rekindled friendship with a Parisian cat, I headed in the direction of the Louvre, to stand on the bridge ‘ Pont des Arts’ , a spot renowned for its view of the city…To my surprise the bridge was covered in lockets and love messages, a welcome new addition….And from there I continued to walk….I passed a bride in all her finery, children eating ice cream and buskers adding their own unique soundtrack to the early evening….I walked and walked and walked.
And I am hack in the hotel now…My feet are sore, blistered and aching….I am tired, cranky and, I think, slightly sunburnt….But I am excited and anxious for tomorrow…Who knows what is in store?
Paris 2011 I love you.
Paris : Day Four
Warning: Frequent references to love contained below….Bucket may be required as writing may induce nausea!!
I am in Paris groove now….
A compulsion to walk…..The sun shone and Paris put on a good show…everyone was out for the day and I joined in the parade at around 10am….I spent 1 hour at an internet café before strolling to Rue Muffetard Saturday markets for a coffee and some breakfast….A punnet of strawberries, café latte and croissant later I was satisfied, and could then focus my attention on my other great love…second hand clothes…I purchased a beautiful green skirt, home-made with a sewing machine…what a find…and then came across a vintage clothes store like no other I had ever seen….Very few items were on coat hangers, most were in huge piles on the floor….It was a rummages paradise…and I walked away with a pair of shoes made in Spain and a dress designed and made in Paris…..
I decided to take my loot back to the hotel, for my feet wanted to keep a healthy rhythm on the Parisian pavements, and my shopping was weighing me down…I then proceeded gather the essential ingredients for an afternoon picnic at Jardin Des Tuileries, a baguette, cold meat and some fresh fruit and bottled water…
Lunch was a hit, I read my book and basked in the afternoon sun…Willing myself on, I followed the crowds along the Champs Elysees to gaze in wonder at the Arc De Triomphe….Feeling the need to tick all the tourist sites in one afternoon, with aching feet, I headed in the direction of the Eiffel Tower….My mission was complete…All tourist sites viewed in one day….and I did a pirouette and turned in direction of my hotel…a good 1 ½ hours away…..
I actually think I over did it today…Just to much walking, but the site I saw made it worth it…The city and its people where on heat…..the young teenagers making out on a park bench, the middle age couple passionately kissing on Quai D’Orsay, an elderly couples, walking hand in hand down the Champs Elysees, oblivious to the crowds around them….The city of love was in full swing today, and I was a happy observer.
Night has fallen, I have soaked my feet, drunk a litre of water and grazed through half a packet of French cookies….I will sleep well tonight…Tomorrow is my last full day in this magical city …what does Paris have in store for me tomorrow??
Paris Day 5
If if are still with me…well done!!
It is raining today…it is 10am and I have not yet left my hotel room….I guess after a day of such intense heat, every city needs a rest…and the people in love need to cool off ( just for a bit!!)
This morning I will attempt to upload my blog diary to CUWAM…for I have a confession to make…my ever so cool attempt of ‘ going mobile’ failed….I did not bring my internet modem with me, I just thought it would not be compatible with Europe / UK/ USA…I just assumed Wi-Fi would find me…alas I was wrong….
So I will be writing entries daily, uploading them weekly ( or there abouts)….I saved this confession till the end…I was initially heartbroken that my attempts to be oh so modern, so Wi-Fi friendly had failed…mission aborted…or so I thought…
Then I just jumped back on the old fashion highway…to type then upload online…At least I did not reach for a quill and ink and line up a Parisian pigeon to do a CUWAM mail drop to my ‘fans’!!
And when the next CUWAM entry hit’s the internet highway, I will be better able to inform you how the last 24 hours in Paris went, how my reunion with my own Princess Mary of Denmark went, when I am united with my Aussie mate Liz, a lady who left behind Melbourne, married a Dane and is now Mum to two beautiful children and how it felt to touch down in NYC after a 6 year absence….
Paris I love you, I have always loved you..…Copenhagen…..I want to love you….and as for NYC….the love affair is bound to continue….