When people come back from a trip, they like to talk about what they ate, what they did, and what they saw. I’m not going to do that right now. Instead I’m going to talk about what I didn’t see. Sometimes when I travel I’m struck by the absence of things that are common sights in my at home life. In England, I didn’t see pickup trucks. In South Korea, I didn’t see public trash cans. In the Philippines, I didn’t see cats. So what was it I didn’t see in Paris?
Heading to the eternally chic City of Lights this past fall, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t stand out as a tourist. Parisian women are known worldwide for their particular brand of style and I wanted to do my best to fit in with them. So what did I pack?
I wanted to eat well in Paris. I really did. Sometimes I failed – too many ham and cheese baguettes. Sometimes I did ok – like Boeuf Bourguignon and a French red while sitting at the next table over from a couple of industry women in town for Fashion Week. And sometimes I hit it out of the park. Like the night I ventured, almost on a whim, to the 9th arrondissement to check out Bouillon Chartier. Zut alors!
If there was one iconic image I had of Paris, it was cycling through the streets on a cruiser bike. The image would be made perfect by a flouncy midi skirt, Breton striped boat-necked shirt, and an effortless chignon. Of course there’d be a baguette sticking out of the wicker basket. While the outrageous stereotypes of this dream sequence didn’t happen – I wore printed ankle pants with a grey v-neck and there was no basket or baguette – Fat Tire Bike Tours did make the rest happen for me.
Paris strikes me as a lady of a city. Elegant and refined. Not gaudy and loud. Not overly showy or pushy. When I think of hotels in Paris I think of cozy, elegant rooms mixing heritage buildings and fine fixtures. Of hushed conversations and real tea drunk from china cups, not paper. On the border between the 8th and 9th arrondissements sits the newly opened Hotel de Seze, which embodies all of these qualities.
One of my aunt’s has called me Mona Lisa for many, many years so it was pretty special when I got to stand a few feet from the real deal this fall. It could also be why I find the bit of trivia I learned about her so interesting. She’s been called the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world. But why is the Mona Lisa famous in the first place?
After rescheduling once, my next adventure is almost here. When WestJet announced that they were starting a direct route between St. John’s and Dublin, complete with a stupidly awesome seat sale, I booked a ticket first and planned later. So where will I be going?….