As you all know by now, I’ve had my London/Waterloo trip planned for some time, but it wasn’t until last year that my daughter, Brooke, said that she’d like to come along. We’ve been to England together quite a few times and she’s a fabulous travel companion, so I was thrilled. And then I thought that, since we’d be in Brussels anyway, how could I not take Brooke to Paris? I mean it would be right there. Paris. So I tacked on five days to the end of the trip. And then I started thinking that five days would be too many. I mean, what is there for an Anglophile to do in Paris? I started to think that I’d made a mistake. And then I went to the library and got some guide books to Paris and began to think that five days might not be enough. At any rate, I am now not only reconciled to, but also looking forward to Paris because it dawned on me that it would be the first trip in a long time for which I would have no agenda. I wouldn’t be traveling on business, nor would I be manic about all the research I had to fit into just a few days. I could go to Paris and be nothing but a tourist.
In essence, this will be my first trip to Paris. Granted, I’d won a trip entitled “April in Paris” about thirty years ago. However, I was pregnant at the time and my ex-husband and I had just bought a new home and needed carpeting more than a trip to Paris, so we cashed it in and stayed home. Fast forward to five years ago and I was in Paris, sort of, on a press trip. As part of a group of five travel writers, I was flown first class on Air France to Paris en route to Zurich, Lucerne and Interlaken. The drawback was that Air France were under the impression that they were going to be huge part of all of our stories. Therefore, upon landing in Paris, we were held hostage in the Air France “war room,” a huge conference room with a huge window over looking the runways, in which we sat for about three hours whilst people with very heavy French accents regaled us with stories of the Air France anti-terrorist game plan, security measures, latest technologies, etc. etc. etc. Finally, we were taken to the Hilton Hotel a block away from the Champs Elysee – and told that we needed to be ready for a gastronomic treat of a dinner in three hours time. I’d instantly bonded with a fellow journalist I’d only just met, Cynthia, and she and I decided to use the time to see something of Paris. We strolled the Champs Elysee, I had my photo taken in front of Napoleon’s folly, the Arc d’Triomphe, and we had a glass of wine at a sidewalk café. The waiter didn’t speak English, neither of us spoke French, but after some back and forth, we discovered that he and I both spoke Spanish. So there we sat, two American journalists, at a sidewalk café in France, ordering in Spanish. Go figure.
The next morning, I was seated on the wrong side of the plane and so never even glimpsed the Tour Eiffel as we flew out to Switzerland. In fact, I voiced the opinion that there was, in fact, no Tour Eiffel and that it’s existence was a plot by the French government to lure travelers to the City. So, this time, I am determined to see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and to stroll the City at my leisure. I have made no definite plans for our five days in Paris other than to have booked a champagne cruise on the River Seine, the boat to be boarded at the quay hard by that elusive edifice, the Eiffel Tower. If I find that there really is an Eiffel Tower I will gladly apologize to the proper French authorities. Well, perhaps not, but I will take a photo and post it here upon my return.