Of course the first thing that had to be done when we came home was to participate in the hours long debriefing about everything we had done, from the moment we arrived until the minute that we stepped onto the train back to dreary Olde England.
The interrogator in question was Auntie first, and then mum who spent about forty minutes prying into every detail about one of her favourite cities, only now offering suggestions about what we should have done and where we should have gone. I mean, she could have done that before we went. After my relatives were done, Mark’s mum rang and demanded a report as well.
But I’m pleased to say that the house here is still standing, and there hadn’t been any earthquakes or fire-storms or zombie invasions while we were off scampering along Champs-Elysees, stopping about every twenty yards for a quick snog because we were in the city of love, and while there you just have to let love out.
And now here I sit, back in the old digs, wishing that we could have stayed another year. Not even the prospect of A WHOLE WEEK OFF can remove the feeling that we need to move to that city at some point, preferably yesterday, because being a tourist in an exciting and interesting place is of course the same as living there day in and day out…
Mark’s meticulous planning of our trip fell apart on the first day because he had not given thought to the French flexibilities when it comes to public information and planning, and the “pub gig” with an electronica musician that were going to take place in a restaurant there had been cancelled weeks before. However the website about it still advertised the event, so on Friday when we were going to enjoy avant-garde electronica music we had to clamour for an alternative.
That alternative came in the form of an restaurant where a minor Irish folk band was doing a continental little tour, so you could say that we went to Paris to hear about the tragedies of Limerick and Cork of the 19th century. It was great; just to hear the contrast between the Irish on stage and the French in the audience.
The good thing about this gig was that the owners of the bar didn’t look to closely at us, so whilst technically under-age, and whilst I’m sure there are hefty penalties for bars that serve minors, we apparently passed for being of legal age and stature.
Neither of us are too keen to crawl home in the gutter in a strange city, so maybe our best behaviour helped convince the owners to continue to serve us beers and wine during the evening. Friday was fairly relaxed, unlike Saturday when we almost locked ourselves out of our little rented flat.
There were surprisingly few people around when we went out at around eight in the Saturday evening to start off the night. This pleased Mark, because he had moaned about smelly crowds, so the near empty placces were very welcome.
On a Saturday night elsewhere, the night would be full of people crawling in ditches, at least as far as my experience says. Maybe it’s a different culture, but I do wonder why there were so few people about – not just in the place we went to but in the places we looked into while we strolled through the night streets.
During the day, before the going out, we had visited the must-visit shopping centres like Printemps and Forum des Halles. Of course, we had to note the Fontaine de Innocents, which looked like a Roman basilica had mated with an Asian pagoda on top of a step-pyramid. So typically French in a way: extravagant, a bit ridiculous, and imposing, all at the same time. But like the virginal innocents we of course are, we had to stop there and enjoy it.
We also had a stroll to Marais to window-shop in the galleries, but for some reason that bored Mark more than me so we only did that for an hour or two. After that we retired back to our little flat and caught our breath, and then we went out to the empty night-life.
And then our little overlooked piece of information that the time-locked doors in the main lobby closed at one AM and you needed a different key to use on the lobby door, and our temporary land-lord hadn’t given out that key. Luckily, while we were desperately trying to get in, a taxi arrived with more people that wanted to go in.
Oh, the information was readily available in the little booklet that was inside, but like many things in France it was only written in French. It’s like when we researched this trip. Many of the sites we visited didn’t offer any info in English at all.
On Sunday we woke up stiff and lethargic because unlike on Friday, a fair bit of drink had slipped down, but fortunately most things were closed, and apart from a visit to a little cafe for some strengthening tea, croissants with jam made there in the cafeteria, we mostly just took it easy. And of course, at eight in the morning today we started the long trip home.
And now, my man lies downstairs sated on experience and French food and French candy, and I’m writing this, and wish that I was still there even though the weather was quite unstable, and although it was quite chilly, because damn it the life of a tourist in an exciting large city is of course the same as the day-to-day living there for the inhabitants.