Saturday in Paris 9:45 to approx. 3PM

Apparently I forgot I had a blog. Well. I didn’t. I can’t even claim to be busy. I’ve been hitting ‘refresh’ on Craigslist jobs. Now that I’ve had fun in Paris, I’m going to have to pay for it. You know how they say you should take half the stuff and twice the money when you travel? It’s true. It’s just the job that was paying for the second half of the money pooped out.

Incidentally, I saw a posting on one of the job boards for the job Tech Boss created for his very own flunky. So, the guy who took a bunch of my work in Tech Boss’s restructure either got let go or left voluntarily. If the latter, how long can the director ignore that Tech Boss can’t manage people?

But. BUT. It’s 9:45 AM April 9th and I’ve just sat down in the hotel lobby. My face is still puffy. A willowy blonde approaches me. “Liz? I thought it was you. I thought I recognized your hair.” It’s Carey, and she leads me through to a lounge where I chat with her and her adorable parents. Her mother is a retired schoolteacher who takes an immediate shine to me. I feel like a fraud, somehow, and protective. Carey’s parents seem so sheltered and I determine to be as British as possible for their comfort. On the computer by the wall, Nathan, Carey’s sister’s adopted son from (I think) Thailand is making detailed notes on their family tree, on one of those family networking websites. “Y’aright, Gran?” he asks in a broad NotLondon accent (North or West Midlands, I think) and my day gets a little more surreal. It is still before 10AM.

Then the elevator door opens and it’s like being fifteen again and at church camp and all of a sudden my friends are there! My friend Jane and her husband and son are right there in Paris with me! I hug Jane, and shake the hands of her reserved menfolk. Her teenage son, Andrew, is bemused about my complimenting his Yorkshire puddings. Of course, Jane has photographed them, so I know that his Yorkies make mine look like Amateur Hour.

We assemble, those of us that are there, as most are coming in on trains and planes throughout the day. I sling my bag into Rhian and Rebecca’s room, and we all head out. Carey’s mom catches me counting heads and clucks, “I do that, too. Years of teaching, and I can’t stop it now.” I vow to count hers first. She is, in some ways, on an even grander adventure than I am, and I want to keep her safe.

We head to the Batobus in the 25 degree heat. Paris in Springtime? Hell, this feels like July! Normally, the Batobus is the kind of tourist-moving scow that I would eschew with all haste, but it’s a cheap and easy way to get to places we want to go, as it docks near many of the places we want to go. Plus, we get to sit down while we travel, in the sun, randomly taking pictures.

Jane’s family and Carey’s family wander off to do their own things. With everybody else having iPhones (and some worried because I didn’t have anyone’s number), Rebecca and Rhian and I meet up with Natalie, Marie, and Clare at the quay by the Louvre.

At some point, Nicky and Emma meet us. Emma is a photo-a-dayer and her fantastic sister Nicky lives in Paris, and has agreed to be our guide. We wander the Champs-Elysees for a while, and almost die in traffic several times trying to get really good shots of the Arc de Triomphe.

We’re hungry and tired, so find one of those sidewalk cafes for lunch and drink rose wine. It’s food from Alsace, which amuses me. It just seems weird for a sidewalk cafe, that Parisian cliche, to serve provincial food. Then again, the goat’s cheese in phyllo is amazing, and I am restored.

Because Rebecca is the texting queen, she knows that Louise and Claire are eating pizza about five hundred feet down the street, so we go and collect them. Again, technology astonishes me.

We go to a macaron store that is, apparently, famous. The little green bags are iconic, and the lineup is a mile long. It’s hot and too full inside the store, so Clare and I go outside to wait for the rest, who are in a lineup for these little sweets. They look like little jewels, and the teahouse in the same store is beautiful and airy, but I want to be outside.

Zoe and Stephanie catch up with us at the macaron shop and we head out for further adventures.

Day 3 Evening

Three of us had planned to meet for dinner on Friday night. I’d met one of the women before, but it was three years ago. If I recall rightly, we shared a dessert. The other one, I only knew from t’internet. That didn’t stop us from having one of the most memorable dinners I’ve had in a long time.

We were slated to meet at Brasserie Lutetia and I was a little nervous. Not to travel the Metro. That’s easy. But would I know them? Would they know me? I shouldn’t have worried.

We got on perfectly. In between some of the most amazing food (we had the ‘Discovering Spring’ menu) we discovered that we’ve been friends for a long time, we just hadn’t been face-to-face.

Knowing these womens’ lives from their photostreams, it was fascinating to hear more about them. Rhian lives on Guernsey, where it is so small everybody knows her business. Rebecca has very definite ideas about the UK medical system. We ate and drank and I stopped being intimidated by my surroundings. We all had been, but we figured that if we acted as though we knew what we were doing, no one would question us. Voila! No one did.

Some three hours after dinner started, and several glasses of wine, a couple of cocktais, and an after-dinner brandy later, we spilled out onto the sidewalk and looked around for a while. Rebecca posed on a hot-air grate a la Marilyn Monroe, and lucky for her, it was too dark for the photos to identify her. Also, we saw a metal centaur statue with giant testicles, which is funny no matter who you are or where you’re from.

Around midnight, Rhian and Rebecca sent me off on the Metro, as I was still at my old hotel here and if you ever find yourself in Paris, you should stay there, is all I’m saying.

I don’t think I could eat like that every day, but it was a tremendous splurge.

Day 4: Before 10 AM

Apparently my body will not process jet lag normally. I woke early on Saturday, despite the alcohol fuelled evening with Rebecca and Rhian the night before. More on that epic meeting of minds later. Also, giant centaur testicles. Because what goes with fine dining like those? Jet lag confused eqrly mornings, that’s what! I started out an hour and a half early, but got to my friends on time.

I can’t remember the last time I was as excited as yesterday morning. So many of my far flung friends all at once! When I went to London in 2008, I was there more to go to London than to meet people. Yesterday, I got on the Metro to meet my friends.

I know that sounds silly, but I’ve now known some of these women and their families for more than three years. It’s one thing to know that you share values and interests with someone. It’s another to meet them face to face.

I was so excited on the Metro, I bounced a couple of tmes. The giant black man across from me laughed. I did my best to explain that I was going to meet my friends. We talked in trunkated French about it and he asked for my mobile number. I had to explain that as a Canadian, my mobile didn’t mesh with European technology, but I gave him my email and he gave me his mobile number anyway. I hope he’s not a stalker.

At the Gare Du Nord, I realized that I had no idea where my friends were. I had the name of the hotel, but not the adress. Fail. Usually,I map this stuff out. Did I think there would be a litte sign saying Go This Way?

I started walking, using the Paris Charm Offensive: smile at everyone, explain your French is bad, and ask. It works, but this time, it took a while to work. I sneezed 114 times in 5 minutes and popped an antihistamine, because somethng was causing me an allergy attack. I had to go back to the Gare Du Nord on a bus and try again, after flirting with a halal butcher and a dozen doormen, however.

At long last, I found a doorman who knew the hotel and he drew me a tiny cartoon direction: go over the bridge, and it is there. ok, greqt. I look for a bridge.

From then on, it was easy to find! Carey recognized my hair, althouigh a look in the miror confirlmed that dude should have sent me to the ER because I was supah puffy face. Luckily I caught up with Rebecca, who is a nurse, and knows what a histamine reaction looks like. By 10AM: With my friends, scored digits, got lost, had a histamine reaction. You know. Welcome to the weekend.

Day 3

Laundry, delightful Virginian family, Montparnasse or Montmartre (it`s all a blur) St Denis again for shopping. Concierge says its the whore district. Its like finding totally cute shoes in Surrey! Now, shower and out for dinner with photo a day peeps. There may be some wine.

I could not live in Paris, but visiting is like having a torrid affair, but without the infidelity problem.

Day 2

Browsing markets, out to Chartres. Main dish of HOLY CRAP with a side of humble pie. Yoiu guys know how Gothic architecture makes me cry? Yeah. Abbot Suger was a genius with that whole anagogical method stuff. Back at hotel to drop off some purchases and then out to make some more. Now I cant find the apostrope on this keyboard.

Paris Day 1

OK this will be short because I cant work the keyboard. So far: Notre Dame, St. Denis, shopping, haircut. Men checking me out like I am a hottie or something. Also one guy making kissy noises. Bread. Cheese. Wine. Am out now to drink wine in the sunshine with new hair. Details to follow.

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