From the time our taxi driver pulled away from the curb at Charles De Gaulle airport until he made a sweeping U-turn in front of our apartment on rue Bertholet in the Latin Quarter, we'd been on the sidewalk four times. Not that I wasn't counting or saying a few prayers. We weren't the only ones either. Other cars, horns blaring to jar pedestrians out of the way, and motor bikes, buzzing through traffic like bumblebees on steroids, also made several detours onto the sidewalks. Pedestrians didn't react with outrage, but did scurry out of the way.
In the past, we'd used AAA's to make our overseas reservations. Parisian hotel rooms are often small. This time, we wanted a different experience, a more Parisian experience. Plus, now that we're both diabetic, we thought we'd like to cook some of our meals to keep our glucose readings in tolerance. After checking several online rental agencies, we settled on Vacation in Paris LLC, located in New Jersey. We liked the idea of speaking with representatives here in the States. Plus, we were impressed by what we'd read after googling their company. Folks, they've been a dream to work with. Not only did our apartment keys arrive at our home a month before we left for our trip, but the rental company also emailed us a wonderfully informative packet with detailed apartment information, tourist tips and safety hints--things a nervous traveler would greatly appreciate knowing. I know we did. And when we stepped into our little Paris flat, we both breathed a sigh of relief. Everything was as pictured on Vacation in Paris' website. We had no surprises.
All of their pictures were accurate.
We're on the third floor American, second floor European. Here's a picture I took of our living room while I was at the dining room table, writing this blog. By the books on the shelves in both the living room and bedroom, the owner is English speaking. He or she likes Stephen King and Danielle Steele and is an adventurous cook by the number of cookbooks displayed. We brought along copies of our books to leave as gifts.
How lovely that in Paris, your seat at a café table is secured for as long as you wish. In America, you are typically besieged by the wait staff until you move on. We tend to look on a meal as another item in our daily "to do" list. The French look on meal time or a respite for coffee or wine as a time to be savored--slowly. A time to share experiences and express one's beliefs. I watch as animated eyebrows or the jerk of the head or the negligent shrug voice more eloquently than words their underlying emotional meanings. Watching is an education in human communication. There is no frenzy, no glancing at the wristwatch or inhaling of food. There is only the enjoyment of the moment and whomever you happen to be sharing it with.
Until the next time, you'll find us wandering the streets of Paris with no destination in mind, stopping for a cup of whatever to watch humanity stream by. I'll be journaling my every impression, sight and smell of my second journey to the City of Light. I'll share more with you the next time around