Day 22: Paris…I Do Love You

So Tuesday I headed down to Paris from England.  First issue?  While the Brits have stamped my passport as leaving their country…where’s my damn France stamp?  [It’s Thursday as I write this…and all the US government knows is I apparently boarded a plane to the Czech Republic without my passport going through the readers in either France or the Czech Republic…I am currently flying under the radar in both countries.  Not my intent at all because I wanted my France and Czech Republic stamps.  I almost sought out customs to ask them to just run my passport through so US government had a tracker on me and so I could get my stamp!]

At any rate, I was so happy to finally leave London and go to Paris.  The city was so much better the second time around.  The last time I had been to La cite de l’amour was back when I was 16 years old…almost 20 years ago.  A trip to France was long overdue.  I’m so glad I booked my trip to Paris.

I ended up staying in the Latin Quarter.  I wanted to do a few Hemingway stops (because I just finished “The Paris Wife” which is a fictional story about Hemingway and his first wife) and photograph La Notre Dame. 

When I arrived at my hotel, I dropped off my bags because it was way too early to check-in.  The guy at reception was practically falling all over me.  I must be releasing some male magnet hormone or something that I’m ready to get married… [Trust me, I’ve had more men falling over me since yesterday than I’ve had in the last 10 years.]

I decided to visit Le Pantheon first which was several blocks from the hotel.  I stumbled upon this little square a block away just filled with Parisiens, cafes and restaurants.  I saw a sign for a Creperie…and guess where I had my first meal in Paris? 

It was HEAVENLY.  It was sooo good.  After five bites, that was it.  Tummy was completely satisfied with the crepes and the coffee.  So happy…

It was a blessing to have such amazing food after trying not to vomit up everything since Saturday!  I should have really starved myself instead of forcing myself to eat.  The body would have been so much happier. 

After brunch I headed out with my camera, travel guide and map of Paris. 

I saw churches galore.  I saw the Pantheon…and then I headed down Rue de Ste. Michel and voila…hello Latin Quarter bookstores.  I found a copy of “The Little Prince” in French (“Le Petit Prince”) and another young adult book to read in French.

The next bookstore was selling Moliere books for 20 Euro cents.  That’s what?  50 cents in American money?  I was so all over that.  I think I bought 2 copies of Moliere’s works. 

I tried to find postcards that captured Paris in a way that I wanted to see Paris hanging in my kitchen.  No luck whatsoever.

So I ended up heading directly to the Notre Dame Cathedral. 

I sat down and watched all of the tourists.  I kept thinking about the photo I had of my grandfather in my kitchen.  He’s standing in front of the Notre Dame in his beret.  It’s one of my favorite photos of him.  In a way, I could still feel him there.  (God, how I miss him.)

I sat there for about an hour just taking random photos of the cathedral and the gargoyles, waiting to check into my hotel.  It took me a while to realize that my BlackBerry was on London time and not Paris time.  Oops…could have checked in an hour before!

I headed back to the Hotel St. Christophe.  I’m only mentioning them here because they were a friggin godsend after that horrible London hotel. 

The reception decided to give me a room on the ground floor (the only one).  It was so nice because that meant I didn’t have to drag my extremely heavy suitcases anymore. 

The first thing I checked to see…if the outlets worked, because I was highly pissed that the last hotel’s outlets did not work in any of the rooms…only in the lobby bar area (and there were only 3). 

At any rate, after I sat down and ate some of the lunch I had bought at one of the supermarches in the square (heavenly, by the way), I stayed at the hotel until it got close to sunset because I wanted to photograph the Ste. Chapelle at sunset.  They say that’s the best time.

Well, they closed early or something…I don’t know, but I didn’t get that photo.  Security at the government building let me take photos from their parking lot. 

I went back to the Notre Dame to take photos of the Rose windows and…that didn’t happen.  Apparently they were doing some kind of religious ritual ceremony thingy…I don’t know…it’s a functioning church still.  I’d sit down and watch but I didn’t feel God there, so there was no point.  [Yes, I’m brutally honest like that.]

So I headed out to take pictures of the archways (inside the gates).  Security was standing there with me watching me take photos, shewing away other tourists.  I turned around and realized they were closing up the church, so I snapped a few more and then they let me out.  One of the guards remarked that they didn’t want to bother me because they could see what the photos looked like on my screen.  It was like I was entranced in what I was doing and doing something beautiful.  They didn’t want to interrupt me.

Leave it to the French to understand beauty, right?

I took a few more shots around the cathedral and then went to seek out Shakespeare & Co.  It’s a famous bookstore that was frequented by Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and many other famous writers.  Hemingway was the most popular of the customers.

It took me a while to find the bookstore.  When I finally did, I fell in love with it…but hated the prices.  Talk about the Saks Fifth Avenue of bookstores.  It was extreme markup city.  It would have been nice to pick up a Hemingway book…but not for 16-20 Euros.  You’ve got to be joking!

I finally found their clearance rack and took away a Charles Dickens book for 6 Euros.  I got it because the inscription on the front page told the reader to go to page 272 to remember a special moment in their lives together…it was about kite flying.  How charming is that?

The thing that I loved most about the bookstore?  When you first walk in they have personal photos of Hemingway up on the wall at the entrance.  I especially loved the ones with his first son when he was still a toddler (they nicknamed him Bumby). 

Hemingway committed suicide a good 35 years later.  But those beginning years of his brilliance as a writer…they all took place there in Paris in the Latin Quarter.

As I was leaving the bookstore, I heard the owner calling for someone. I didn’t realize who they were calling for until I saw a black dog come flying out of the park across the way.  She had three pearl necklaces around her neck.  She came running past me in a hurry because she knew she was being called.  Trust me, I was amazed. 

I headed to the park the dog had just came out of to find three British boys no older than 5 years old, running around this central area surrounding a very strange statue.  I took some photos of the statue.  A couple of photographers actually followed me around while I was snapping photos, because they noticed that I was noticing something about the sculpture…I was noticing two people in an embrace and I was taking photos of each of them.  They just followed me around, taking the same exact photo.

After I finished, I went and sat down to rest and just watched the 3 British boys running themselves ragged around the statue…up and down the steps.

The youngest (who was probably 2) decided to sit down in the patch of yellow flowers next to me.  I swear to God it was the sweetest moment ever.  His parents were nearby and it would have been rude of me to snap a photo of their son like that.  You never know with people…but his mom saw the photographic moment and got her camera at the ready and started taking shots.

Next thing you see, the other two boys wanted the same attention so they sat down in the flowers too.

Want to know what I said to myself in that moment?  This is why this season is your final season covering hockey.  You want to be that mom snapping that photo of your boys.  Yeah, the secret is kind of out.  That’s the reason why this is my final season.  I’m 35 and I have to focus on getting married and having a family.  I can’t do that covering hockey, especially if I get pregnant in the next year or two.  My body has a hard enough time already.  Throw in a pregnancy and I can’t guarantee I wouldn’t be bedridden (after all, this 3 week vacation is killing my body already…I’m trying not to take pain killers). 

At any rate, the guard came over a few minutes later to announce they were closing the park.  It wasn’t dark enough to take the photo I was waiting to take, so I headed out to the Seine and sat along the Seine, watching the sunset in Paris.  Yeah…it was beautiful.

As it got darker, the lights to the cathedral turned on and I got to take a photo of the cathedral in green lights and then in white lights.  After I got the desired effect, I got up and made the walk back to the hotel and just crashed on the bed.

I stayed up until midnight trying to find a new hotel in Zug.  No luck whatsoever.  Guess we’ll work on that one later on…

I also spent the evening watching French television.  I am kind of in the middle of speaking FrEnglish right now.  Half French/Half English.  Why?  Because that’s how the French were talking to me!

I have to say I love the French people soooo much.  They’re all so kind.  If they know you’re American, they immediately stop speaking French, even if they know you can.  I think it may be because I’m out of practice and I don’t have the accent down.  I’m probably butchering the language.  Who knows?  LOL.

While I was in Paris for the first of four stops, I kept thinking that I really could spend the rest of my life in this city.  There’s so much to do, so many things to try and experience.  So many things to taste.  It’s just an amazing, free-spirited and peaceful atmosphere. 

For some strange reason, Paris gets me.

At any rate…Day 23…Prague bound to meet up with the New York Rangers.

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