First up, thanks, ladies for all the warm wishes and advice, despite all that jealously (ha!) at my extreme good fortune. What can I say except that God has blessed me richly with a generous employer? And I will always remember this trip and be grateful for this opportunity. And now, on with my Parisian adventure …
None of the travel guides and sites I’ve read could have prepared me for the beauty and majesty that is Paris. Cliched as it may sound, this is a city that far surpasses the imagination, and is truly deserving of every sigh and exclamation that it has inspired. This is the first time I’ve encountered a city so full of strikingly gorgeous residents.
I’ve only had a taste of a small part of it, and yet my heart yearns to return to this French capital, if only to learn more of its secrets. This is a city that is extremely easily to fall in love with, and I’m but a mere mortal. Of course I succumbed to the lights, the sights, the very air and sense of romance that seems to permeate every enchanted alley and avenue.
Part of the general upbeat feeling must be credited to my wonderful colleagues in Paris, who took me out on my first and last nights, and gave me tips on where to go. Yeah, sure, my luggage was delayed and I was living out of my jeans and tops the first two days, but the sheer magic of being in Paris did much to lift my spirits. I went shopping happily – having no luggage was the perfect excuse. I need clothes for changing and some necessities after all!!
So, the first night, my colleagues (Seb, Anne and Nath) took me to the Lourves area for a sumptuous dinner after which we strolled to the river to take in the pretty fireworks (a surprise from them as I didn’t know they had fireworks). Pity I was still trying to figure out how to work the camera that my hubby picked.
On the 2nd night, I ventured forth to the Opera area for dinner after shopping at Zara. I ended up strolling around that area, but couldn’t take many pictures due to the chill numbing my fingers. I was told that the winter is a little milder this year, not as cold as previous years. But for little old me, who hails from the tropics, and has never had to suffer temperatures lower than 18 degrees Celsius, it was brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr … cold. My fingers were more often than not numb or half frozen despite gloves!
That said, I enjoyed bundling up and traipsing around in boots. Hehe, so there’s the fun of winter dressing. And this was even more enjoyable on the 3rd night after my luggage arrived. I simply had to change after work for my visit to the Latin Quarter and Notre Dame. Of course I made a stop at Shakespeare & Co. (thanks again, Denis!) to pick up some books. You can’t visit Paris without buying something, and I’m not just talking about souvenirs.
I picked up two of Nick Hornby’s books – High Fidelity (the movies stars the puppy-eyed John Cusack) and A Long Way Down. One of the surprising good read I purchased is Jessica Inclan’s When You Believe, which I finished on the flight home. It was that engaging, but I’ll save the review for later, cos right now I want to hunt down the sequel, Reason to Believe (execrpt here). Besides, I’ve got reviews backlogged overdue from two weeks back.
I paid and left the store, well pleased with my purchases. Then, what should I see right outside but two full shelves of hard cover books going at the rock bottom prices. I simply have to get The Return from Troy by Lindsay Clarke, and, don’t get jealous, it only cost me 1 Euros. A real bargain compared even to prices back home.
On my last night, I had arranged to meet Gabrielle for drinks, so I requested my colleague, Bertrand, to bring me for dinner in Montmarte. He brought me to this delightful little place – The Basilic – tucked away in one of the cobblestone alleys in this legendary district renowned for its artistic residents, and their bohemian lifestyle. The décor resembles the charming interiors of a quaint country cottage, while the food is simply superb. Another great joy I had was the privilege of being served by wait staff who take such pride in their work. I simply enjoy watching the staff at restaurants, not just this one but almost all the café and bistro I’ve been dining at. They’re so passionate about what they do, a true inspiration for others of their profession.
Alas, I didn’t make it to The Basilica of Sacre Coeur, but I did have a wonderful time with Gabrielle, sipping tea on the sidewalks of the Sancere until the wee hours of the morning. I had this feeling of meeting an old friend when she walked into the restaurant that B and I were dining at. And this sense of familiarity continued after B left.
I would have loved to stay on but for the fear of missing my flight next morning, I had to leave. We had a lovely time chatting about life in Paris and each other’s favourite books and authors, speaking of which, I should try to track down the paranormal author Gabrielle mentioned.
So, Saturday came by sooner than I could rub my eyes awake, and before I knew it, I was in a cab to the airport, then boarding the plane for Kuala Lumpur, then and onwards home. To borrow from ol’ blue eyes, I think I left my heart in Paris. I told hubby that we should visit it one day. Hopefully, that’ll be soon.
But for now, I will look back and sigh dreamily when I speak of Paris. It has been a surreal five days for me, and Paris will remain one of my favourite cities for its amazing blend of quaint old-world majestic charm (just look at the museums and theatres!) and modern elegance.
Forget Paris? Never!