mercredi 12 octobre 2011

And so I went to Paris again

Apologies for my lack of posts. I just don't feel that I've done much noteworthy to blog about..

Anyhoo, I went to Paris again on Monday and Tuesday. For my return trip to Geneva I got a bargain ticket which cost me only 25 euros!

It didn't rain but it was completely overcast the whole time I was there. The weather was remarkably similar to the weather last time I was there (in July) except cooler and windier. I shouldn't have been surprised it was cloudy because it's ALWAYS cloudy every time I go to Paris. This was my seventh time to Paris and 6 out of 7 times, it was cool and cloudy.

Given the weather, I wasn't feeling particularly cheerful but I remembered that the previous time in July I also had to force myself to cheer up and enjoy my time there, and so I did.

I used AirBnB this time for my accommodation as the hotel I normally use wasn't vacant and also I wanted to save some money. Of course I would have used Couchsurfing if I could but every time I tried to find one in Paris, I wasn't successful and I didn't want to waste time not having a definite place to stay.

What did I do? Nothing particularly noteworthy but I just walked around a lot. And revisited places I'd seen before (some more than once): The Eiffel Tower, The Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysées, The Bastille, The Seine, Nôtre Dame Cathedral, Ile Saint Louis, Shakespeare & Co bookshop, The Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall)... I didn't go to any macaron specialty places but did manage to pick up a giant raspberry filled macaron at a pâtisserie towards the end of my trip.

I really want to take a boat ride along the Seine... one day. I didn't do it this time because I really want to do it with someone else and not alone.

I kept trying to recall what I did on my last trip and admittedly, did a lot of the similar things. What made me sad was that last time the sun didn't set until 10 or even 10:30 and this time it was completely dark at 7:15pm :(

When it was about 8pm and I'd walked around forever, I was exhausted. Yet, I felt it was still too early to go back 'home' yet. But what could I do? Oh that's right.. I hadn't even had dinner yet! So I found a nice restaurant.. actually I found 3 next to each other and looked at their menus and decided which one to go to based on what I wanted to order. I'm always scrimping and saving when it comes to food and dining out but since in Geneva I pretty much NEVER eat out (and when I do it's always pizza as that's the only thing which doesn't cost an arm and a leg), I decided to 'splurge' on a nice dinner. No drinks, entrée or dessert though! I ordered the confit de canard (duck). I LOVE duck. I had to wait a long time for my meal to come but was very content just watching the scene in front of me, listening to French being spoken all around me and the music softly wafting out of a speaker somewhere.

Although it was a cool night, I felt very warm in there, surrounded by all these people and the lights. There was an outdoor gas heater but I don't think it was on.

Finally my meal arrived and I wouldn't say it was over the top amazing but it would've been better than anything I could get in Geneva for under 40 francs. It cost me 16.20 euros. The duck was well cooked but a tad dry. It was surrounded by baked potatoes (which I love). It was overall very tasty (I didn't need to add any salt or anything) and satisfying.

What happened just before I decided to eat, I was just aimlessly walking down a random street and past a pub, when the guy walking there said hello to me. I thought he was doing it to get me to come in and have a drink (ie trying to drum up business). But while I was eating dinner, I thought myself.. surely he wasn't trying to chat to me? I remembered that on my previous visits to Paris I had had a 'connection' to someone and this time I hadn't. Twice in April I was with a friend who showed me around and in July, I spoke to that guy on the train on the way there and then tried to see him play at a concert at the Town Hall.

Anyhoo, after dinner, I couldn't resist finding out what his intentions were so I purposely walked past that bar again, wanting to see if he'd notice me again. If he didn't I'd just keep walking and if he did I'd stay and chat. I just LOVE chatting to strangers and finding out more about them. He did see me and motioned for me to come in. Luckily it was a Monday night so fairly quiet.

It's funny. I'd heard and read about these stories so many times but never actually thought it would happen to me... What I mean is, guys in Paris trying to chat you up randomly in the street or on the metro or something.

So I went in and he was like.. "Hi, I'm ___. What's your name? Where are you from? What are you doing in Paris?" etc etc... I just looked at him and said, "C'mon, you probably do this every day to every girl who walks past..." He sweared, "No" and looked to his colleague for affirmation. He told me he works from 5pm-6am every single day and is usually too busy, especially on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. He said he saw me out of the blue and felt attracted to me, and how pretty I was (la la la) and then he asked me if I had a boyfriend, to which I replied, "Yes." He was like "Damn!" but he still kept wanting to talk to me and offered me a drink. I stayed long enough just to learn something new about a stranger (my goal and only goal) and realised it was getting late so decided to leave at about 10pm...

Actually I lie. Something like that DID happen to me before in Paris but it was an old guy. This time it was someone around my age and who was reasonably attractive too. He invited me to his place and that's when I thought this has gone too far and I definitely have to leave now. He asked me if he could get a hug before I left...

I did spend some time talking to my AirBnB hosts too, a couple. So I guess you could say that was another Parisian 'connection.'

Overall I didn't really do a great deal in Paris but I walked so much I was totally and utterly exhausted (and still am). Next time I go I'll make sure to have a more concrete plan though. I've seen almost every part of Paris now, I'll have to go further afield to discover new places. Next time also, I want to go to La Défense which I didn't have time for this trip.

What I actually wanted to write about was my ride home on the train.

I spoke to a friend on the phone when I got back. I told him that I felt a great amount of sadness riding the train home to Geneva from Paris. I tried to sleep so for the majority of the time I was slumped/slouched in my seat and had my eyes closed with my sunglasses on to block out the light (the lights inside the train were on the whole time). I barely noticed what was going on outside the window at all until I heard the click-click of the shutter of a young man sitting near me.

When I heard him taking photos of course my natural reaction was to see what was outside the window and when I looked out, it didn't seem that interesting and special to me (the only noteworthy thing was that the further we travelled from Paris, the sunnier it got until I saw no clouds at all!) but then I had this flashback to a year ago or even just a few months ago.

I used to be totally and utterly mesmerized by everything I saw out the window and took photos at regular intervals throughout the entire train ride. Now I barely even look out the window and didn't take a single photo. It goes something like this. 1 is when I first arrived a year ago, and 5 is today.

1. Staring out the window the whole time and taking lots of photos
2. Staring out of the window some of the time and some photos
3. Staring out the window sporadically and taking photos every now and then
4. Staring out the window sporadically and taking no photos
5. Not looking out the window at all and taking no photos

I was telling my friend that I felt somewhat sad that when I first arrived in France and for the first few months everything was new and amazing, my senses were totally overwhelmed but now, after countless train journeys (probably 50?) and trips to Paris (7), nothing is new or amazing to me anymore. And that made me feel sad.

He told me he thought that that means the older you get, the less impressed you get by things as you would have experienced more, like his father who moved around and travelled so much for work and now he just wants to stay put. I guess there was some truth in what he had to say, even if I felt it was a tad negative. But it also made me think of the other spectrum. If it really is true, then it must also be true that kids are impressed by everything because they've never seen/done it before and isn't that why I hear time and time again that parents love seeing everything through their kids' eyes? Because for them, it's like reliving the moments again when THEY did such-and-such for the first time (which they probably can't remember because they were too young)?

To use an analogy (because I love analogies) I guess it's similar to the phenomenon of people who have lots of kids.

With the first kid, it's their first time so everything is new, interesting and amazing and they take photos of every single step of this kid's life. With each subsequent kid the things get less amazing and they take less and less photos and if they have 4 or 5 kids there will be significantly less photos and less milestones celebrated compared to the first kid. 

Makes you ponder, doesn't it?


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