I had no preconceived notions or expectations when I landed in Paris on January 7th. Sure I had seen some movies that had romanticized the city and the culture, but I really had no idea what the reality would be, so I came with an open mind.
The first thing that surprised me was the rather soiled sidewalks. We hadn’t been off the plane for more than an hour when my friend Cathy slid her pristine, beige swede Prada boot through a pile of Parisian dog poo. We of course had been looking at the sights not the sidewalk and had completely missed the fact that it seemed that a fair number of Parisians had never heard of a pooper scooper.
Now I know that Parisians are supposed to be known for being stylish and fashion forward, but there was one shocking fashion trend in Paris that I have to question. Puffy coats. Really? There is nothing chic about a puffy jacket. I don’t care if you’re Carla Bruni. Puffy coats are fugly and should only be worn in Portland where they are more of a uniform than a fashion statement.
I can understand quite a bit of French, seeing that I tortured my first born by sending him to the French American School for five years, and I took a year of French in high school. Never mind the fact that I was living in Finland at the time, still trying to learn Finnish, and learning French from a teacher who only spoke Finnish. When I speak French I probably sound like a Cajun trying to speak German. But come on Parisians, throw me a bone. You know what I’m trying to say. Stop looking at me like I’m standing there naked and speaking Greek.
The biggest surprise to me regarding Paris was how beautifully walkable it is. My girlfriend and I would just choose a different arrondissments every day and explore it on foot all day long. The only time we ever took a cab was to and from the airport.
Paris is a wonderful city to get lost in. My advice to you: go without a plan, wear comfortable shoes, and allow yourself to dream. And make sure you watch where you’re walking!
It is more apparent to me than ever that I lead an unbelievably stressful life at home. Since arriving in Paris I have been getting a minimum of eight hours of sleep a night. The last time I got this much sleep at home was when I had the flu five years ago.
I am ensconced in a small charming apartment in Canal St.-Martin, the 10th arrondissement northeast of Paris. This trip wouldn’t have been possible without my generous friend giving me the keys to her home for a week. Thank you.
Although I’m terrified to speak French, because it’s been so long, I can read a lot of it and understand some, and not embarrass myself when ordering lunch. Everyone here has been more than understanding when I pop out with a Spanish word when I can’t think of the word in French or English!
It is difficult to totally disconnect from my life back in Portland for a week when I have so many responsibilities there, but I’m sure trying.
My goal on my first day in Paris: stay awake until 8pm.
The only possible way to achieve this goal when arriving in a new time zone is to throw your luggage down, head outside and start walking immediately until you find the nearest espresso vendor. But we didn’t get very far, because the best baker in Paris has a bakery across the street from the apartment where we are staying, and the scent of freshly-baked pastries was just too enticing to pass up. The bakery is called Du Pain et des Idées, and there is a line out the front door all day every day. We waited in line and it was worth it.
Mouthwatering galletes and croissants that are nothing like you ever get back home.
We also found a Monop on our street, which is like an upscale quick mart that sells everything from champagne and chocolate to eggs and milk. We bought some groceries, and dropped them back at the apartment.
We spent the next few hours exploring the neighborhood, drinking espressos and cappuccinos until we couldn’t stand it anymore. We headed back to the apartment at about 5pm, snacked on some Brie and bread, and somehow managed to stay awake until 8pm.
When I woke up the next morning, 11 hours later, I was ready to take on Paris for my first full day of sightseeing. But first some espresso…
I am sitting here in a charming apartment in Paris, drinking espresso and enjoying the peace and quiet, which has absolutely nothing to do with Twitter. However, my journey to Paris began yesterday with the following tweet to @Delta:
To which Delta replied:
I was already settled into my seat on my flight from Portland to Salt Lake City when I received this tweet from @DeltaAssist and had just enough time to send a message with my confirmation number before the crew told us to turn off our phones.
I settled into a fascinating conversation with my seatmate, who was headed to Athens via the same Paris connection I was worried about missing. We were two cocktails in and deep into a political conversation when a flight attendant came up to me with a little sheet of paper and said, “You will make your connection. You’ll have plenty of time.”
And this is the power of Twitter.
I tweeted an issue when I was sitting at the gate in Portland. Delta customer service answered me as I boarded the plane. I sent them my confirmation number so they knew exactly who I was and what flight I was on. They sent a message to the flight attendant on my flight, who then relayed the message to me.
That my friends is brilliant customer service.