Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Love Affair - Paris

I took this photo from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, after I climbed 348 steps.  I still had the climb down to partake in.
Have you ever visited a new city or town and felt like you’ve been there before?  Almost like déjà vu.  You walk the streets of your new city and know exactly where to go without knowing.  I have felt this way in two cities, London and Paris.  When I arrived in Paris and got off the train coming from Brussels, I felt that feeling I always get when my world is about to change.  A mix between butterflies in my stomach and a dizziness in my head.  I started my journey to my hotel via the Paris underground system.  When I stepped out from the subway and onto the streets of Paris I was immediately awestruck.  I’m no stranger to a new city.  I’ve traveled all over the United States and this would be my 4th city on my European tour and my second time in Europe.  Still, that moment setting foot on the Paris concrete made me feel like I had come home again. 

Walking along the streets of Paris, my nose was bombarded by smells.  Gasoline from the cars passing, pastries baking, the smell of the cool January air and the Parisians.  The smell of the Parisians jolted a memory of an old boyfriend of mine, Captain of the Industry.  His cologne covered the city.  I had moved on from Captain of the Industry years before.  Really, before the relationship even ended.  So, I was not sadden by the little reminders of my past.  More so, happy to be alone in the city of love.  Happy to know, I am my own woman.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend being in the city of love alone.  There were fleeting moments were I wished I had someone to share this experience with.  There were reminders every where I turned that I was single, with no prospects waiting for me in my past or my present. 

Out of suggestion from my French Mother, (I have many mothers all over the world.) I took a water boat tour of the city at night.  It was a perfect, clear sky, winter night.  I wore warm clothes and packed my “Burnt Hotdog” jacket.  This jacket is incredible.  The insulation of the jacket is made of down feathers and the jacket falls just at my ankles.  It resembles a sleeping bag with the feet cut out.  While waiting for our boat to arrive at the docks, I was in the company of families with small children.  We all boarded the small cruise boat and began our tour.  Seeing the city from the Seine was an experience in itself.  As I was quietly taking in the city, I would hear couples all around me kissing.  Which is exactly what I would be doing if I were with someone I loved on this boat, in this beautiful city.  I looked around me to the see the company that I was in.  Then suddenly I was thinking: What happened to all the families?  When were they all replaced by couples?  Did I hop on the wrong boat? It was hard to concentrate on the tour guide’s speech with the sound of kissing in my good ear.  I found myself drowning out both the tour guide and the couples, allowing my eyes to be the only sense functioning.

From the boat ride I made my way to dinner.  I got a great eatery tip from my friend, The Chef.  He knows his food and he knows Paris.  To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to tell you the name of the restaurant I went to.  I may be getting an angry phone call shortly.  The restaurant, Le Petit Prince De Paris is quite difficult to find and hidden in a back alley.  When I said before I knew instinctively where to go in Paris I found this was the one time where I may have spoken too soon.  Luckily, I found the Parisians to be very helpful and I stopped someone on the street and asked if they knew where the road was that I was looking for.  This nice Parisian couple broke out their iPhone and began to look up the road for me.  Once I had proper directions in hand, I made my way to the restaurant.  I felt very apprehensive about walking down this alley.  Did The Chef send me on a while goose chase?  Is this really the restaurant he was talking about?  When I first opened the door there was a warm feeling that flooded my senses.  The restaurant was cozy, warm and nothing like my first outside impression.  The staff was inviting.  The night I went, the waitstaff was all male and resembled super models.  I had a total of four gorgeous men waiting on me that night.  I have never felt so taken care of. I knew there had to be a reason for me being single in Paris.  I started with a glass of Red Burgundy.  I sipped on the wine before my first course would arrive.  I love the sensation of water or wine flowing down my throat and into my belly. When my first course arrived, duck confit, I was famished.  The duck confit was comfort food at it's best.  This was just what I needed on this chilly January night.  My second course I had the salmon entree with a glaze of spices.  It was wrapped up like a present and today certainly felt like my birthday.  With every bite I felt myself feeling so grateful to have friends like The Chef that are able to steer me in the right food direction.  At the end of my meal, one of my male servers came over to asked if I would like dessert.  I was too full to speak but some how I muttered, “Aucun Merci.” (No Thank you.) I was also was running late to meet up with some friends in the Montparnasse Quarter where Ernest Hemingway would frequent. I was very excited to be sipping a beer maybe in the same seat as Ernest himself sat. 

After a few drinks and some laughs with my friends I walked back to my hotel.  The city was quiet and still.  The butterflies in my stomach began to rumble and I knew I had once again, fallen in love with a new city.

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