Wednesday, September 2, 2009

This American Girl in Paris (Part 1)

It took just over 34 years to finally travel abroad. I've been to certain islands in the caribbean and to Canada, but I don't really count that. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to go to Europe and as it turns out, Paris was my first taste what turned out to be a delicious experience, literally and figuratively. 

I left on Friday night. Evan was at the same airport, but a different terminal as he was to fly Air France and I was on American.  We both ended up leaving late. I was supposed to take off at 6:30, but because someone couldn't find and deliver a log book for the pilot to sign, we all sat on the tarmac until 9 pm.  The flight was uneventful and I even managed to doze for a few hours, which helped my nerves as I was pretty apprehensive about flying over the ocean for the first time. 

Evan met me at my gate. Since he had arrived two hours prior he had time to get metro maps and decide how we were going to get to our hotel. This is one of the innumerable reasons I am so grateful to have a capable partner in my life.   He thinks of everything I don't and vice versa.

Our hotel and room were tiny but adorable and a convenient stone's throw away from the metro.  After a quick shower and change we set off to explore, determined to stay up until bed time in spite of the fact that I'd only slept about 6 hours of the last 48.  

Our hotel was right next to the Arc de Triomphe .  We walked down toward the Seine River and happened upon our first and, as it turned out, only green market experience.  If I had know this was the last I was going to see of beautiful fresh fruits, I would have stockpiled.  It was expansive, colorful and and overflowing with fresh ripe goodness of every size and color.  It was a feast to the eyes. I only wish I had my good camera, or even thought to take out our little one, to capture the vibrant colors and hustle and bustle of this large green market.  As it was, we had just gotten going and I wasn't about to get saddled down with bags of produce.  And, I was in Paris!  Eating for optimal nutrition was off my priority list for the next few days. 

Next we saw the Eiffel Tower which was a lot bigger than I had imagined.  We walked underneath, saw the winding long line, and decided that going up it was not important to us.  By this time we were famished and stopped for lunch at a little cafeteria style restaurant on a boat. I had an expectation that everything that crossed my palate on this trip was going to be an explosion of flavor that would drown away in mmm and ahhhh type yummy noises, however this place didn't look too promising. I was wrong.  It was simple, yes.  I asked for quiche, but the server heard "fish" and so I was served a piece of salmon.  The salmon melted on my tongue like butter....probably because it was cooked in about a pound of it, but it was good.  Simple and satisfying too.  Evan got a lasagna that was equally good as I think the pasta was fresh and the cheese was well, cheesy, and that makes anything good. 

We strolled on in search of Rodin's Garden.  I loved taking in the beautiful tree lined sidewalks, breathtakingly beautiful buildings, and what seemed like sculptures and fountains on every block.  From the iron balconies overflowing with colorful flowers to the 10 piece orchestra in the subway, Paris seems to have charm oozing out the cracks in the sidewalk.  It was intoxicating. 

Rodin's Garden was a perfectly manicured garden around a museum that used to be a hotel.  I was familiar with "The Thinker" and "The Kiss", which is an achingly romantic piece, a theme that comes through in many of his sculptures.  However, I was most moved by one I'd never seen before called "The Hand of God" which was a large hand emerging from the rough stone and within it were the intertwined forms of Adam 
and Eve.  There is a sensuousness to his work.  The bodies give a feeling a fluidity and movement as they intertwine with one another. I love when art can invoke an emotion.  When I studied "The Kiss" I could faintly feel the butterflies in my stomach.  At this point, I was starting to see why Paris is well known as one of the most romantic cities in the world, love and beauty abound in every eyeful. 

Evan was more a fan of the Gates of Hell, which again included a sea of tangled, sensuous bodies as a tribute to Dante's Inferno.  Without a doubt it is a grand masterpiece, but I preferred the smaller works.  

At this point we had reached the 4 pm "witching hour" that Evan thinks is the hardest part of jet lag.  We revitalized with a coffee for him and an ice cream (tiramisu and chocolate) for me.  The ice cream was rich and velvety, like nothing I'd ever had before.  The flavors were really bold. This was the first of several times I wondered why everything tasted better in Paris....why is that?!?

After our snack we managed to meander home, pick up a couple of baguette sandwiches on the way and were out cold by 8 pm.  (to be continued...) 

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