Monday, November 09, 2009
To Start: Paris
Returning to Paris was like getting together with an old friend from high school. I worried that we wouldn't have much in common anymore but was amazed and delighted to discover that we might have even more in common than we did before.
My days there (a few at the start and then one at the end of my trip) were perfect. I stayed at the Qui Voltaire, and my huge hotel room windows opened up to the Seine and views of the Louvre. The first thing I did when I arrived on Sunday afternoon was open my windows wide, let the Paris air in, and stare out at the city, the river, the rows of antique book and postcard sellers.
It was a perfect day. I showered and dressed and then went wandering. Once upon a time I spent a couple of months in Paris. It was spring time and I took French classes in the mornings and then strolled and read and wrote in the afternoons. Somehow I thought that after six years (and numerous life experiences) I wouldn't remember much about the city or enjoy Paris as much as I did New York.
How wrong I was.
I loved getting lost and then figuring out just where I was. I loved discovering that the street that was my favorite in 1998 (the very first time I went to Paris) is still my favorite street. Rue Vavin remains the home to a sweet set of shops: Marie Papier (a glorious paper store), an amazing game and puzzle shop, Petite Bateau, and L'Occitaine. Yes, Petite Bateau and L'Occitaine are much easier to find in the U.S. today than they were ten years ago, but the familiarity, in this case, was extremely comforting.
These photos were taken on that first afternoon when I had no agenda. I could have squeezed in a museum (and probably should have) but instead I chose to wander the Left Bank and the Ile de St. Louis, basking in the late October sunlight.
It was an invigorating day and made me want to take up globetrotting again. How easy it is to forget how travel makes us feel: completely alive and capable of doing anything.