So, I’m in Paris this week.
I don’t say things like that very often, so I should write about how I ended up here and what I’m doing. That’s not to mention that the writing juices are flowing because I have decided to follow in the footsteps of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and the like (NOT Gertrude Stein) by writing in reading rooms of bookstores and cafes and parks. I even splurged on a gorgeous leather-bound journal for the occasion. And it’s already a third full.
I’m going to be brief, though, because I am in Paris, after all, and have not been addicted to my computer and phone and the news for the last couple of days. And Cathy and I will be having eggs and wine for dinner shortly — in her and Eric’s amazing apartment. You can see the Eiffel Tower from their bathroom window. This morning I walked to it.
The Eiffel Tower was probably the worst part of my trip. Long lines, annoying people — basically the obligatory tourist attraction, and now that I have it out of the way I don’t have to feel like I need to do anymore of those things.
This day was comparatively the least exciting. All of the magnificence warm, sandy streets and black structures that I stepped into last Thursday was muted by the first dreary day of weather. It wasn’t that the setting was any less fancifully Parisian, but it’s incredible what a change in mood the sunshine can cause.
In addition to the weather, I was muted by an odd, but unfortunately typical experience that happened the other night. In a mission to seek out the best cheese plate my friends had stumbled upon in Paris, we planned to eat a very exciting place along the canal. The event was a complete disaster from the start. The waiter recognized that we were American because we were speaking English, so wouldn’t speak with us in French even though my friends could have communicated perfectly well had he simply not made any assumptions. I won’t go into the aggravating and ugly details, but I will say that anti-Americanism is very much alive, and well, he was a jerk.
But the cheese plate was worth it.
Because with the ugly French stereotypes come the positively delightful ones, like eating yummy cheese and drinking wine and actually kissing people on each cheek when you greet them.
I booked the ticket to come here three days before I left. It may have not been the best decision, sure, but I make a lot of good decisions.
And as far as traveling goes I did it the right way: 1) I’m very lucky to have friends to accommodate me and 2) I’m also a pretty thrifty traveler.
I will leave anyone who wants to channel their American expatriate with some advice regarding the second point. Not that I want to advertise the amount of money I dropped on this trip, but I will think it’s only fair I share with my fellow human beings that my tickets totaled only 600 bucks! On top of that, Paris is expensive but it’s not unaffordable if you do it the right way. My guide book was A Moveable Feast, which I read on the plane, and visiting all of the places a literary figure writes about and is inspired by is a magical way to see a city — and that’s not even to mention the French existentialists.