Monday, April 22, 2013

April In Paris

Paris in bloom
To celebrate our wedding anniversary, we spent this past weekend in Paris.  After spending last year's anniversary in Istanbul and realizing that we could get away for quick long weekends without Sidney, we decided that this year would be the year we went to Paris.  Neither of us had ever been and a visit to all of the grand sites of Paris was on our "before we leave Europe" bucket list.  (Little did we know that one week after we booked our tickets we would get follow on orders that would not only keep us in Europe for another three years but we'd be within a couple of hours driving time from this magnificent city.......).  Because we knew we would be able to easily go back, we decided from the onset that this trip would give us an overview of all that the city has to offer and give us an idea of what we want to return to again.  We had no set in stone agenda in mind other than to relax and enjoy ourselves.  So bags packed, off we went to Paris in April.

The first thing we discovered is that Paris in April is cold.  It is so much farther north than Albania that the warm spring weather we had been experiencing at home had yet to settle into France.  Despite the cooler than expected temperatures and rain showers our first day, the sun came out and we had a fabulous weekend exploring the city.  As an added benefit of being that much farther north, the days were long. Very long in fact.  Our first night there we were surprised to have sunlight at nine at night; in Tirana this is what we experience for a few brief weeks at the end of June.  The second thing we discovered about Paris is that it is expensive.  Perhaps the prices seemed even more inflated since we were coming from a country where an entire pizza costs you four dollars.  A single Paris meal cost us more than what we spend on groceries for an entire week in Tirana.  But it was so good, and we were on vacation after all, so we stopped looking at the prices and just enjoyed ourselves.  

So what did we do all weekend?  We played tourist of course.  We put many miles on our feet as we walked from one end of the city to the other.  And when we got tired we hopped on the Metro (I was once again reminded of how much I miss living in a place with safe and convenient public transportation).  We explored the Louvre, climbed to the top of Notre Dame Cathedral, and strolled along the Seine.  We sipped wine in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, but due to striking workers were unable to take the elevator up to the top.

Atop Notre Dame Cathedral

And this being Paris, we ate then we ate some more.  Paris is a food lovers paradise and I was not disappointed.  From buttery pastries washed down with rich cappuccinos to basic meals of bread and cheese the food did not disappoint.  We ate classic French food and I discovered what all the fuss is about rose wine.  It was a good thing that we walked as much as we did since we did a lot of eating.  Craving ethnic food that just isn't available in Albania, we ate at a Lebanese restaurant one night.  Oh my was it ever good.  And I quickly realized that despite my concerns while I still have a hard time understanding the spoken language and an even more difficult time speaking it, my ability to read French menus is pretty darn good.  There were no surprises when any of our meals arrived at the table. The most difficult part was choosing which items we wanted to eat.

Dodging traffic in front of the Arc de Triomphe

But my absolute favorite thing about Paris was the city herself.  Sure her landmarks are impressive and the food was amazing but I loved the broad boulevards, narrow cobblestone streets, and expansive parks and green space.  Not the world famous ones, but the ordinary ones.  The city greened before our eyes as we noticed the leaves popping out over the course of the weekend filling once bare branches with green.  Garden after garden of brightly colored daffodils, tulips, and other spring flowers lined the streets.  For being such a large city everything was orderly, people were well mannered and it was easy to maneuver as both a pedestrian and a motorist.  Broad sidewalks allowed for easy passage on even the busiest of streets.  We walked for miles stopping at sidewalk cafes when our feet needed a rest. We watched street performers--some good and some not so much---, sat on park benches observing the people around us, and joined other tourists in watching the light show on the Eiffel Tower.  Mostly we just absorbed everything that is Paris in the spring.  To me, that is the ultimate Parisian experience.   I can't wait to go back.

The Eiffel Tower at night

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a great place to spend a long weekend! Great post. I loved Paris and can't wait to go back on day.