French Lessons

    With her brand new passport and her brand new broken foot, my step daughter, Andrea, and I embarked on a much anticipated six day Parisian holiday. I kept thinking, "How are we going to do this?" And myself answered, "You just DO."
    Here is Moriarty's first lesson in savvy traveling- stay flexible. If you have a plan, plan on changing it; however, I had not planned on a broken foot.
We thought six days was a long time so our "must see" list was also long. For weeks we had been separately pouring over guide books and internet sites trying to land in France with a plan.
    Probably the best plan we made was choosing a small hotel in the center of Paris, next to the green, garden spaces of the Tuileries with the Lourve on one end and the Place de la Concorde on the other. Even with this convenient location we did a lot of walking, and walking was not what we did well. Out of the hotel by 9:00 a.m. and back by 9:00 p.m..ouch.
    The double-decker circle Paris bus was a great way to buzz by everything, then have an idea as to where to jump off and jump back on. This way we had an overview of the city, sitting down, with cameras in hand.
    Another lesson here- we learned we had to stop and rest the foot and thereby resting other body parts as well. I liked this. Benches, grassy parks and museum steps provided shady places to ice the swollen foot, feed the birds and talk to fellow travelers. We started keeping a tally as to how many people asked about Andreas's foot which made it an ongoing joke.
    Since the grand Louvre was so very close to the hotel, we had to make it our first stop on the "must see" list. An hour or two should suffice, then off to some trËs-chic fashion boutiques, pastry shops, cafÈ sitting, or something, right? Five hours later we were sprawled on a park bench in a total brain-overload. Having been to the Lourve before, I had an idea of what to expect which made it all the more fun to watch Andrea get slammed by the art and antiquities housed in that huge, old building. Takes your breath away, it does!
    After a day or so we did the same art over-load in the Musee d'Orsay with the more modern impressionist painters. Here were the originals to all of the greatest calendars you've ever owned. Magnifique! Again we had to take a park bench breather, this time with wine and quiche.
    Another lesson here. Mix your days up in order to not become bored or just overdone with the art and history aspect of Paris. One hot afternoon, we jumped on a River Seine sightseeing boat and lazily cruised by the great landmarks of Paris wearing our huge sunglasses with colorful scarves wrapped about our heads for shade. Oh, so cute!
    Before we left home we did a lot of talking about what to wear. Yes, we are women. Small, carry-on wheeled suitcases held clothes that all matched, therefore we had a zillion outfits. Another lesson. Nobody Cares! Put a scarf on anything and you are good to go. But leave suitcase space for a truly unique French fashion find. It does the heart good. What did I buy? Scarves!
    My absolute favorite day was Saturday in Montmartre. Again our plan was to spend a few hours there then move along to the next place on "The List". The whole day.we spent the WHOLE DAY...just astounded by it all. So very wonderful, and I think everyone's idea of what Paris truly is.
Monmartre is a district north of the city wrapped around a huge, white basilica called the Sacre Coeur which was visible from much of Paris. That being said, Monmartre seems to be a center for artists, musicians, mimes, jugglers and a bit of old, eclectic, wrought iron Paris. There was one man, a live human man, draped in white cloth, white gloves, and white face paint who was slowly, very slowly, moving atop a marble pedestal at the foot of the Sacre Coeur with a tiny red rose in his hand. Ahhhh, this is why I chose Paris. I immediately pulled out my sketch pad to capture this memorable scene.
    Another travel tip- wear a watch; that's your freedom. We could say to one another, "Meet me in two hours, right here by the green awning, "then be totally free to explore and have one's own experiences and stories to tell."
    After waiting in line for an hour, we were able to take the lift up the Eiffel Tower and appreciate the magnificence of Paris. The Eiffel is quintessential Paris, a must do. Just remember to go early in the day and endure the crowds. Also, stand still and listen to all of the languages that surround you.
    My mantra for traveling is be a sponge. Get out of your "self"  mode and embrace the cultures you are visiting. Everything is new, everything is marvelous, and everything is a memory maker and therefore valuable. I can lie in my bed any night and recall the incredible sights, sounds and smells from all over the world. They are in my being and can be lived again..over and over. Be still and remember.
    The Paris adventure was a success. Traveling can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it; but it is always rewarding. One always returns with a broader world view no matter how exhausted your body is. Yes, Andrea returned home with the desire to go again, success! Voila! C'est trËs bon.

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