The Boyfriend and I were fortunate enough to be able to travel to Germany and France just after Thanksgiving, returning the first week of December. This idea came about because sometime around October, I had the thought that if I didn’t get out of the state of Georgia soon, I might just start constructing the Seven Wonders of the World in my condo. Which would, of course, require me to open up a putt-putt golf course and…let’s face it….the world really doesn’t need another one of those. In short – – I get a little twitchy when I haven’t traveled abroad in a while, and so I informed Chris one wild-eyed night that “we have to get out of here”. Thinking it best not to agitate the insane woman in his house, he cautiously agreed – – while quickly glancing at my hands to ensure I wasn’t holding any sharp objects.
We went and saw my cousin Sean and his new wife, Lizzie, at their home in Stuttgart, Germany, and then took the train from there to Paris. Unfortunately, when we arrived in Germany, Chris and I were like two jetlagged slugs who’d had about a pound of salt poured on us before being run over by a tractor. So while we went out to some pubs and a FANTASTIC German restaurant complete with some rockin’ beers, we didn’t get to see as much of Germany as we would have liked. This was vastly made-up for by the fact that Lizzie and Sean are wonderful to just hang out with and were so kind to let us take in some much-needed relaxation with them in their beautiful home that overlooks the German countryside.
The train ride into Paris was a groggy one as we’d had to get up early that morning while already in the aforementioned jet-lagged sluggish state, watching the German, and then the French countryside whiz by in muted winter pastels. The difference between the German and the French people was palpable as we made different stops between the two countries. We left the dark, buttoned-up garb, with expressions to match, of the German people, to be greeted by the brightly colored, casually chic fashions of the Parisians. And smiles – – many more smiles in France
Our taxi took us on a quick view of the sights of Paris en route to our hotel. PARIS – – the city that defies all effusive description that I can possibly muster with the English language. In the winter, Paris is stark in its beauty – – if it were a drink, it would be a chilled, white chocolate martini – – exquisitely decadent while intoxicating you with its beauty with each sip. Oh, and I did want to drink this city in – – savoring each drop as I went.
Chris and I said “merci” and “bon” and “oui” like parrots who have sadly been taught only three words by a very lazy owner with a bad sense of humor. I was desperate to say more and grew slightly depressed during our 3 night stay that I could not form my mouth in the same way as the elegantly tongued beings around me. Chris inexplicably adopted a “French Accent” which consisted of ordering “Ze Quiche” and “Zis wine” while waving one hand to the side ever-so-slightly. At first I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t. It alternately annoyed me and delighted me – – – he alternately admitted and denied that the accent existed as it grew like a barnacle onto his everyday speech as we walked up and down the streets of Paris.
Luckily, we had many kind, forgiving waiters assist us at Cafes. Waiters who efficiently brought us our food despite us speaking to them like we were two year old French children stricken with a mild speech impediment.
One notable evening, we’d been out to dinner and had a few too many drinks. Afterward, we took a cab to one of the cafes near our hotel. I proceeded to spill my coffee in my saucer and onto the table while attempting to drink it when tipsy and then tried to soak up the offending, excess liquid with two small cocktail napkins. The result was two soggy pieces of paper glaring out at the world from our table vulgarly. A young French couple engrossed in each others’ eyes and wrapped up in a sensual embrace at a table next to us turned during my commotion and openly stared at my sad little display with both curiosity and disdain. The napkins might as well, instead, have been a neon sign reading: “WE’RE AMERICANS WHO CAN’T HOLD OUR LIQUOR. NEXT THING YOU KNOW WE’RE GOING TO PURCHASE BERETS LIKE THE GRISWALDS AND THROW OUR PET DOG OFF THE EIFFEL TOWER.” The waiter came out to mop up the table and glanced at me, then smiled wryly at Chris and said, with a heavy accent: “Does she do this at home?”…
Yeah don’t ever say the French aren’t friendly – – because trust me, they exercise much patience and professionalism in the face of the uncouth. There might be a little sass to their responses at times, but I’ve always been a girl who can appreciate some good-humored sass.
We returned home tired but satiated after our whirlwind tour, having been dazzled by the city of lights fully and completely. I’m hoping that the next time I visit France’s fair city, I will have learned at least six words in French.
Oh Hell – – I’ll really challenge myself and say I might even be able to learn…..seven.