I have found a new favorite travel activity. While in Paris, I stole Lyn’s idea and created several running lists of memories. Feelings evoked, food we ate, extra pleasant people, that kind of thing. Even just a few short weeks later, I look back on it and realize I would have forgotten a lot of them if I hadn’t take time to jot them down. Would you like to explore several of my favorite moments with me?
Picnicking at night in front of the Eiffel Tower… Beside us a group was having a birthday party for a person in a wheelchair. The best part was that as they lit the candles, they snagged a random street musician sitting nearby to come and sing happy birthday to her. She glowed, and it just warmed the cockles of my heart to see it.
Every hour the lights on the Eiffel twinkle for a few minutes. We sat on the cold hard ground for a long while, shivering and waiting and eating baguette and cheese. It was worth it, because the moment the twinkling began, a collective gasp ran across the crowd joining us. Magical.
Our first day there, we strolled by the Seine River, and when we heard music, we peered over the wall to see. Below us a couple danced a Latin dance, framed by the tree overshadowing them and the river sparkling beside. I didn’t work up the nerve to join, but maybe next time.
Speaking of the Seine, why does a river add so much to a city? I didn’t expect much from it upon description (it’s just another dirty river in a city), but sitting by the side of the river with my feet dangling over the edge and watching people lounge nearby was literally one of my favorite things I did there. Time slows down when you’re watching a river lazily wend its way through town. The people watching is prime, and the sunset over the sparkling water is just beautiful.
One day we sat at the Luxembourg Garden, sipping espresso, and we just happened to watch a handsome businessman in a suit as a pigeon flew overhead, leaving his deposit on the man’s head. When he caught us watching and chuckling, he couldn’t stop his embarrassed laughter as his helpful friend wiped his head with a napkin.
If you’ve read Emily of New Moon, you might remember a term she calls “The Flash”. When Emily sees something particularly beautiful, sometimes there is a stab of feeling, almost pain- but pleasant, that goes through her. It can never quite be recreated by going back to the same place, because it happens when something is unexpectedly lovely. I love that term, because I’ve had it happen a few times and it’s so nice to have a name for it; I believe it’s what C. S. Lewis would call joy. All that to say, if anything could induce “The Flash”, it’s the first glimpse of Paris’ gardens. My goodness. They’re really indescribable, but if you go to Paris, make sure to schedule in a lot of time for sitting in gardens with your feet up.
We stopped at a coffee shop one day, only to be welcomed by a staff that was about half Down’s people. I sat against the wall and watched the hubbub of the coffee shop in the mirror in front of me, and the way the manager interacted with the employees was just the sweetest thing.
One night our restaurant plans were thwarted, so we ended up going to the second option on our list, Le Petit Italien. Not only was the food and atmosphere amazing there, but after we left the restaurant, it turned out we were tucked right by an iconic little park Lyn had wanted to see. So we strolled along, enjoying the crowds of people dining on patios under lamplight, and window shopping at the art stores, when suddenly we came across a sign saying, “Maison de Victor Hugo”. No way, this was Victor Hugo’s house? The author I am such a fan of? And we just casually stumbled across it? This was way too cool. Only in Paris…
Visiting the store where Julia Child stocked her kitchen made my day. It’s not a tourist spot, as evidenced by the dusty and rickety shelves, but if it doesn’t make you want to quit your day job and take up a life as a chef, I don’t know what will. I felt exactly like a kid in a candy store, and debated purchasing a copper kettle of my own. Then I looked at the prices, gulped, and started singing in my head, “You know I want you, it’s not a secret I try to hide. But I can’t have you, I would go broke and my hands are tied…” Nevertheless, it was a delight to dream a little.
We visited a lot of museums, but my favorite was sitting for a few long moments in l’Orangerie, surrounded by Monet’s water lilies. Two large oval rooms, encircled with gorgeous paintings, and lit by veiled skylights. I cannot tell you how peaceful it was to sit on the benches in the middle and soak it in.
And for the comic highlight which each trip must have- at dinner one night, we were seated right by a curtain hiding the bathroom door. At one point, a handsome boy entered the bathroom. A few minutes later, the curtain swung back and a little, curly, old woman emerged- and no sight of the handsome boy. “What happened in there?!” I asked Lyn in some shock. Was it transmogrifying bathroom or something? Turns out, the bathroom had more than one stall, and I hadn’t seen little lady enter. We laughed about it for the rest of the trip.
And on the topic of dinner, I could add about ten highlights relating to food, but that’s just going to have to make its own post. Till next time…