We’re changing up the flavor of the blog for this post, because the last several days in Paris tell a very different story. As we said at the end of our last post, we had a surge of chaos hit us (of our own making, to be sure). A lot of reservations had to be changed or cancelled, and there was a long spell where the question boiled down to “just admit defeat and go home, or spend more time in Paris.” Now, that sounds like an easy decision, right? “Oh darn, more time in one of the world’s great cities.” Yeeeaaaahh.. So, this is where knowing thyself comes into play. The tuition was pretty high, but this was the class where we learned that a week in Paris that we’re expecting is very different from a week in Paris that caught us by surprise.
The first thing we did was establish where we’d stay. It turned out that the flat we had been staying in and liked so much, was still available! So that was easy… except that, in the chaos of cancelling and changing plans there had been a variant where Lisa stayed in Paris while John flew back to Portugal for his license. While that plan was “active”, we booked a hotel room for the night using rewards points of the non-refundable variety. So, we actually packed up and stayed in a hotel for the night, then moved back in to our flat. Oooonnn the other hand, the place we moved in to wasn’t so bad. A block or so from the Tuileries Garden, right next door to places like the Ritz, it was pretty spiffy. It was absolutely the kind of place we’d never spend our money (in excess of €1,000 a night when there isn’t a special on) but the points were reasonable enough. Anyway, getting treated like we must be secretly wealthy people who dress bougie to blend in was kind of fun. Best story of the day was walking through a gaggle of teens when going to dinner, then again the next day when going out and coming back. I finally stopped at the Concierge desk and asked if somebody famous was at the hotel or something? “No need to tell me who, I’m just curious about the kids outside.” The concierge goes poker faced and says (in good English but a classic French accent) “I believe there is someone who… makes.. the TikToks?” To which I replied “oh for fuck’s sake” before catching myself. “Oh, please forgive me,” I began, but he interrupted me with a quick “oh no sir, I feel exactly the same way.” So that was fun.
We settle back into our flat easily enough, since we already knew where the towels were and how the washing machine worked. Then we got into how to spend our remaining 4-5 days… and that’s when it got tricky. There was the incredibly “drawn out” feeling to being there. Obviously different people would react differently, but to us we had been “done” with Paris, and had had lovely conversations about future trips. We legitimately didn’t know how to pivot, at least not completely. We went on a lovely walk that Lisa had researched that took us through these really cool “Passages”, which are … well, imagine that an alley between blocks had a roof put over it, and all the shops spun around so their storefronts faced the alley. That’s kind of it.
We took in a lot of ambience. We walked the garden paths and ate every variety of French food that we could come up with. At the risk of sounding like a broken, Lisa has been posting really nice reviews of our meals while traveling, up to and including our last one at Au Bourguignon du Marais. After we finished there, we packed it up and headed for home. It was a strange week. We were in one of favorite destinations, but we had been turned around on our plans. We had known going into our trip that after so much time in cities, what we’d need is a more contemplative pace; scenery instead of grand sites. As a result, when we reset our plans we had a much less successful trip. I don’t think we’re at fault per se, we made the best of a tricky situation in real time and it was far from bad.
In 2007 we took our first overseas trip together, to London for about two weeks. Two truths in our lives came out of that trip, along with a hundred memories: 1, the travel bug had well and truly hit us, and 2, we had so much to learn. I imagine we’ll spell it out in more detail some day, but from packing our bags to when we landed to where we stayed and what we did there, we’d repeat almost none of it. Over our many trips we upgraded what we knew about everything when it came to our traveling. What we’ve realized with a little hindsight is that this trip was, in a lot of ways, a new London trip. We live an entirely different life now, with different prospects and different goals. Much of what we knew about how to travel effectively is going to need revamping. It’s a daunting prospect, but it’s also exciting. Let’s see how it goes!