Monday, December 14, 2009

Prior Planning

I came in the door after chipping away at the mound of ice and snow that has accumulated at the end of my driveway, dropping Target bags on the kitchen floor before stuffing a couple items in the freezer.

"I brought you something," I told Chienne and her mood - already happy because I was home - grew to curiously delirious. I withdrew a mesh bag from the white plastic and opened the top before upending it and watching a dozen new tennis balls bounce happily over the tile in my kitchen as they diffused isotropically.

Chienne paused for a moment, watching all of them bounce, before glancing up at me and selecting one to chase down and carry in her mouth. At last count, only 8 remain scattered about the kitchen table. Two were placed downstairs and two up so that there's always something new and bouncy near at paw.

I try to allow the universe as few opportunities as possible to surprise me, trying valiantly to remain half-observant and prepared for what comes next. This weekend was spent largely on planning for Europe while I sat in front of the fire. I read hotel reviews; I pored over British Rails schedules; I memorized my 10 flight times and mapped out sightseeing routes in my rare free moments. I sighed over my hotel in northestern (I think) England, smiling when booking early saved me 10 pounds that I decided to spend on the cupcakes they could send to my room. (It will be my birthday - I deserve cupcakes.) I may have gained a few wrinkles while fretting over hotel locations in London, finally choosing two. I trembled a bit when selecting my room in Paris, deciding after hours online that I was more intrigued than afraid of the Iles and picking a pricey room there within walking distance of an older part of Paris. Being left only with choices in Munich, I decided to await recommendations from a colleague.

I battle feelings of intense excitement - I've long loved the idea of European travel and - apart from a single trip to England in grad school - have been unable to manage it. I also grow terribly nervous, knowing most of the trip will be spent feeling either delighted or unsettled (or both) because I'm a creature of routine. And when taken out of my element, my brain struggles to ever relax.

I was thinking - as the oven preheated to make a flatbread with ham and cheese and green onion for a simple supper - that there is a clear order for how I survive. I wake between 5:30 and 6, rolling from bed to stretch and brush my teeth before coming downstairs for coffee. I turn on the news - the local NBC station - and watch while I sip coffee with cream and check email and blogs before abandoning the Mac and opening my work computer to check my calendar and see what Asia and Europe have been up to while I slept.

Chienne generally comes down while I'm dealing with work email so I tell her good morning and she climbs up on the loveseat (no more hopping - she's getting to be an old girl) to cuddle a bit. After a bit, I go upstairs to shower and dress while she waits impatiently and whines demandingly. I follow her downstairs and put on my shoes while she scampers back and forth to the door before we head out for a walk. Upon coming home, she gets her eye drops - I murmur "good girl" after each eye - and then a munchy strip for a treat. I throw additional treats on the floor and request that she be good before heading out the garage with my laptop bag in tow.

So while a break in the routine is at least semi-welcome, there is a great deal of planning that must be in place. To that end, if you have suggestions for London, Paris or Germany, I'd very much like to hear them.


Anonymous said...

Staying on the Iles it will be an easy stroll to see La Sainte Chapelle--a very beautiful chapel. Look for the evening musical events here; it's a lovely evening to sit and listen to music as you gaze at the beautiful stained glass.

Aimster said...

A few suggestions re: London.
Those red tours buses, that stop at all the tourist spots and let you get on and off as you wish all day? They seem cheesy, but they ROCK. Very handy, very affordable.

If I recall, the distance between Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace is walkable. And you can walk through St James' Park, which is absolutely beautiful.

Everybody says you have to go Harrods, but to me it was just another department store - and a waste of time, unless there something specific you want to buy there.

Whereabouts in Germany? If you have a chance to take a cruise down the Rhine river, it is lovely and you'll see the ruins of many old castles nestled in the hills.

Have a wonderful trip!

Anonymous said...

The Centre Pompidou had a truly fantastic exhibit of feminist art ("Elles") that I saw earlier this year. It should be running until May 2010, and it is definitely recommended. Of course, they also have other fantastic art, too (for instance, I'm a big fan of Surrealist art, and they have have a nice collection). If you plan to go, set aside at least 2 hours.

London: I didn't get to see it this time around, but Darwin's house would be interesting to see. Along those lines, finding Darwin's grave (along with other famous folks', including scientists', memorials and graves) at Westminster Abbey is a fun task. Oh, and catching a performance at the Globe Theatre would be nice, especially with company.

I hope you have a blast!

Anonymous said...

OH! And, how could I possibly forget? The Catacombs of Paris are creepy but really interesting. Fun to go to if you have a friend with you. Don't go by yourself, though. Creepy is actually an understatement.


Anonymous said...

I second the Catacombs, theyre gorgeously gothic! And westminster where Sir Issac Newton and several other famous graves also.

Plus the shopping in all 3 cities are great! Harrods is a must in London, its full of things from the amazing to truly bizare!

Enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

i have no suggestions, except take lots of pictures and i'm excited for your fun upcoming trip!

London Hotels said...

Nice post! I'm also planning a two weeks trip to London this year with my family. I'm looking for helpful info in the web and by chance I read your post. I enjoyed of reading the post and the comments, also I found an interesting thought! Thanks for the post and good luck!:)

Back Bay Hotel in Boston said...

I would like to recommend you Paris as it is symbolic with the word style.There are lot of things to see and enjoy. From culinary treats to social places, high fashion to heady romance, Paris will lure anyone feelings.

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