Monday, January 25, 2010

Sun Seine

My morning meeting ran long, but was fantastic - informative and friendly on both sides. We had a bit of trouble in translation at certain points, but - the only table so far that's been dominated by a female presence - we soon sorted ourselves out.

I'd descended the stairs to the basement - a lovely spot with curved ceilings in some lovely stone I don't recognize - and had croissant with cheese and what I think was a clementine. Filled with a sense of wonder that's becoming familiar, I sipped coffee and sighed over the receptionist's voice as he called to request a car come for me after I'd finished my meal. It was chilly when I arrived at my designated meeting spot and, determining I was about 10 minutes early, I decided to walk around in order to keep warm in my dress and tights. It didn't take long to find photo opportunities in the blue light that exists so fleetingly just before dawn but none of them were overly good.

I'd had a logistical crisis in the morning and I realized I'd made the wrong call as my host - at my request - drove me to the Eiffel Tower early in the afternoon so I could begin this day's walk along the Seine. I had debated whether to start from my hotel, drop off my laptop, and head to Eiffel. But I instead decided to walk away from Eiffel and keep my laptop with me, saving my feet at the expense of my shoulders. (The hell of it was I could have put my presentation on a stick and skipped the laptop altogether. But it ended up being a negligible annoyance anyway.)

I don't know why, but the tower looked different than I expected. Having seen the iconic structure in photos and films, I was still struck that I had to correct my mental picture, deciding that the reality was better anyway. I said "No, sorry," about a million (well, 10-20 = a lot) times to the ever-jingling men with tiny metal towers on rings. Some were pretty aggressive and one called me a name - I don't know what, thankfully - and I was happy to escape the veritable army of salesmen and cross the bridge to walk along the opposite bank.

The sun was peeking through the clouds, giving me both flutters of happiness and fits of worry as I tried to take pictures in the shifting light. Still, the sky was gorgeous as it framed the Parisian scenes and I rather enjoyed my walk. It was, as I feared, my flats that gave me trouble. They are loose enough - and soles thin enough - that the bottoms of my feet were uncomfortable within a km or so and miserable before I reached the Lourve.

The sights were nonetheless spectacular and I sighed over them even as I paused to stand on my toes, trying to ease the pressure on my heels. I realized it was good I was going this alone - the pace was reasonably steady but fairly slow as I stopped to put on lip gloss or find Kleenex or toss my bag over the opposite shoulder. Taking photos for the blog (and knowing I'll show my family) gets me over the desire to tug at someone's arm and whisper "Look at that..." as I'm awed by each new angle. With a companion, I would have voiced that fact that my feet hurt and I was tired and thirsty I thought we were very far from the hotel.

Still, I was abashedly grateful when I reached the tip of the Isle de la Cite, not only because it's my favorite part of Paris, but also because the nearby Isle de San Louis contained a bed with my (temporary) name on it.

Yet, upon arrival, it seemed the breeze was suddenly bitterly cold rather than gentle against the warmth of the sunshine. My head ached, my feet were killing me and I was beginning to despair. So I stopped at a cafe near Notre Dame to eat, alternately sipping water and wine and nibbling on my ham and cheese sandwich (no fried egg!), frittes (which were so pretty I almost took a picture) and a nice salad with a mustardy dressing. I bought gargoyle magnets at a nearby shop before crossing the bridge to the smaller island. Then, across the street from my hotel, I entered a toy shop and bought beautiful cloth dolls for the girls. I even managed to find and use an ATM to pay for my ride to the airport tomorrow.

Then I slept. Because I am Katie.

I believe I'll venture out once more for a light supper somewhere along these narrow, wonderful streets. Then, tomorrow, I'll rise early enough to take a few pictures, enjoy one more breakfast with creamy cheese and crispy croissant and begin my journey home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad to see that you're having fun (although you seem a bit wistful, at times)! The pictures are beautiful, too - you have a great eye! And, I totally agree with you about how flats *can* be uncomfortable when worn for walking long distances. BUT (and not to sound like an advertisement), L.L.Bean makes a leather/suede skimmer that manages to be pretty, incredibly comfortable, and affordable (which seems to be a totally foreign concept to most shoe manufacturers). I wear a pair to work every day, and, even though I am on my feet most of the day (bench work), my feet don't hurt like they do when I wear other shoes. So, they're definitely recommended, if you want to try them out.

I hope the rest of your trip is lovely and look forward to reading more of your updates. You write incredibly well.


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