Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Nothings Yet Everythings of Paris

It wasn't just the opportunities to see some of the great sights of Paris that made the trip there so fun and fulfilling. The company made up a big part of it...

Laurie and Kristin (Mike's mother and sister) are fun travel companions. While anticipating the trip, I wondered if we would really laugh as much as we did in Boston last year. Oh my goodness! We laughed more than I could ever have imagined laughing. These ladies and I make a pretty good traveling trio, and I look forward to more trips with them.

As with my real life, I spent time in Paris recognizing the little things. My personal mantra, "Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you'll back and realize they were the big things" held true for me as I basked in each day we spent in France. Our time together was filled with plenty of touristy things to see and do, but there was a lot of time spent simply building memories. And even though not as many of those times were captured in picture, they were mind photos I hope to always have...

Laurie and I differ on what food should be deemed edible or not. These cheese slices that she brought with her all the way from SLC, and then subsequently sat in a hot car in Normandy all day were deemed edible by HER on the train ride from Normandy to Paris. I on the other hand wouldn't have touched them with a 9 foot pole.

Hmmm so yeah... right around the corner from our apartment was this view. But we, well I didn't realized that at first. And so upon our first little venture out, as we turned the corner, I saw a French Patisserie (bakery) that of course grabbed my attention and I ran across the street to stare into the window longingly at all the baguettes and pastries... Only to be hollered at by Kristin and Laurie about what I should have noticed first.
Many a laugh and memory were made in this apartment...
Kristin and I used our cell phones as cameras, and we were each found guilty of taking selfies of ourselves in various locations. (I think I had taken maybe 2 selfies of myself in my life until Paris, and Megan requested me send her selfies of myself in various locations.) Often, when Kristin or I would hand each other our cameras to take photos of us, the "selfie setting" would still be on, and so of course we had to take a photo of ourselves on each others phones.
When you plan your next trip to Paris. Don't visit on May 1st. It is May Day, and most things are closed. So don't run out of toilet paper in your apartment. It becomes a true mayday situation. Just sayin'...

Speaking of mayday as in distress calls...there were several moments together in France that we clearly recognize as tender mercies:
  • The nice man in Bayeux who helped us find a public toilet to use. (Usually it was Laurie or Kristin that needed to go to the toilet, but this little town found me needing to empty my bladder and there was NOWHERE to go. Everything about this man from his body language to his closing up shop to come and find us (he'd originally given us wrong directions) felt like he was a little angel in disguise. I have a secret crush on that liquor shop owner now.
PS-I say "toilet" because we were in Europe. No restrooms, or bathrooms, they are toilets.
  • The taxi that literally arrived out of nowhere. Sunday evening found us a fair way from our apartment. We had spent much of the day wandering and walking around various sites, and when it came time to return home we had just exited the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens and realized we were quite far from the Metro station or a Taxi stand. Laurie's feet were tired (she is a trooper and doesn't let her feet issues stop her from traveling and living!), and although Kristin and I could have walked much further, Laurie was in need of a taxi, yet we were far away from the "taxi stands". I know Laurie was beginning to feel discouraged and literally, within seconds a taxi pulled up to the sidewalk. It wasn't a coincidence.
  • Laurie made friends with the lady across from the apartment from ours, and she graciously loaned us two rolls of toilet paper. We returned two pink (yes, pink) rolls of toilet paper the next day along with a KitKat bar.
  • The lady who we dealt with for our apartment, wasn't the easiest to work with. Yet by late Sunday night, her change of heart about charging us 50 Euros to meet us at our early necessary check-out time was quite miraculous when she declared she would let us drop our keys in the post box instead. (A long story, but suffice it to say it was a great relief to us.)
Also another long story...but Laurie (and Kristin) ran out of cash and none of our cards would work in an ATM. Yours Truly became the group hero when I made a phone call to American Express ("disguised" as Laurie) and was able to obtain an emergency/one-time use pin number. Laurie's excitement over finally getting some cash was perhaps slightly marred by the fact I was able to answer both of the security questions the American Express lady asked. (Laurie however, would have been unable to answer one of them. ha ha)

Each night at dark on the hour (beginning at 10pm) the Eiffel Tower sparkles for 5 minutes or so. On one of our nightly adventures to see it, we stopped and enjoyed a Nutella Crepe. I can't even remember what was so funny (yes I can now, but "you had to be there") but we laughed hysterically while enjoying this delicious taste of heaven. (My first taste ever of Nutella. Wow!)

I don't have a photo of my lovely cheese board I ordered at a nice little restaurant we ate at. Ahhh-I still find myself occasionally dreaming of that assortment of cheese and baguette.

Mother-in-law to the rescue! I do have a photo now!
Speaking of baguettes, I ate my fair share while in France. In fact, by Sunday evening I may or may not have had any desire to eat another one anytime soon.
I'm proud to say that I encouraged Laurie to take her first selfie while standing by the Eiffel Tower. I handed her my cell phone and gave her instructions. She insists it was her first and last, but we shall see.

The door to our apartment was a nightmare. It had three locks (and three keys) and I never successfully unlocked the door the whole time we were there. I think Laurie ended up being the pro at opening the door, but it still took her a few attempts each time. The combination of the difficult locks, the need for at least one of us to use the bathroom, and the auto-shut off of the lights in the dark hall, made for some funny laughs. Although I think there were a few times we wanted to swear about it instead.
Kristin and I went out to do some shopping and forgot to take the keys with us to get back into the apartment. So in the nice, peaceful, quite courtyard stood a girl hollering "Laurie" up to the open window on the 5th floor. (Other people looked out their windows at us. Laurie did not.)

We almost had a near miss on returning home from Normandy to France. It was a 21/2 hour train journey, and missing it that late in the evening would have been disastrous. I will forever have a memory of Kristin running across the street to the toilets and yelling "Laurie!" into the doors. I had visions of Laurie sick on the floor somewhere (she had previously been feeling carsick from our journey to the train station). Kristin and I were near panic-state as the train is ready for departure and we suddenly hear Laurie yell FROM ON THE TRAIN, "Kristin, Tiffany, get on!" It was an obvious relief, and I think Kristin and I could have both wrung Laurie's neck, but all was well.

That train journey home stands as a stand-out to me of the time spent together in conversation and discussion. I really love these ladies. My father-in-law wrapped it up well last Saturday while Mike and I were at lunch together with he and Laurie by saying, "It's all great that you had such a good time together in Paris, but what I really am happy about is the relationship." It's true. It hasn't always been this way, I assure you.

The journey to Normandy however is a blur. Laurie gave me a motion sickness pill that she swore didn't make one drowsy. I'll let the photo speak for itself.
We spent many a time in the back of taxi cabs. For the most part, we loved our drivers. But one was mean, and when we exited the taxi Laurie called him a not-nice name, and I called him something worse. We didn't let it damper our views, and the next morning we had the best taxi-driver of all. Those taxi memories will stand out in my mind for a long time.

The pedi-cab was a good way to get from a to b, even if they are probably designed for 2 bums not 3.

On the last afternoon, I stole away from the garden statues and enjoyed sitting in the sun eating some chocolate. It was our last day in France, and I spent a few minutes basking in my solitude feeling blessed with my opportunities. I felt grateful for my physical body and its ability to let me do what I was doing.
 Early on Monday morning, May 5th, Laurie, Kristin and I took our last taxi ride together. At the bus stop at the Opera House, Laurie and Kristin got out and we said our goodbyes. They were heading to the airport to return to SLC, and I was continuing in the taxi to the train station to take me to London. As I hugged them goodbye, the reality that our time in Paris was over hit. It was a wonderful 5-6 days together...days and memories together I will never forget.
(Spent a few hours alone at this train station awaiting my train to London. Wasn't the highlight of my time in France but on the bright side I got rid of quite a bit of my french coins to all the sketchy people wandering the station.)

I love Paris. I love Laurie and Kristin. And I love Mike who makes all of this possible.
I am very blessed.

(And yes Kristin and Laurie, count me in for Italy in 2016!)


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