From the moment I stepped into the airport I knew it all was different. How could it not be – just two years ago I embarked on a similar adventure with Carol, stood at the same airport counter giving some fabulous woman with a scarf around her neck my passport to head to Paris. But, this time, I didn’t have Carol next to me – this time, I smiled and chatted up a 10 year old girl who was in line in front of me. She was headed to Tehran, then to Italy, then to Spain. She wasn’t going for long – “just three months!” I stood in awe of this little girl, who for some explicable reason, was drawn to me. Maybe because now I look for the good wherever I can and there is nothing more pure than children. A smile from them adds a little happiness to my day and I need a lot of that in order to continue on my path – the journey doesn’t feel so alone when I open myself up and connnect to the beauty of humanity in others – they don’t know that I’m doing that but I do. I find great solace and comfort in that. So, I felt better about the check in process and now fueled from the conversation I had with my new 10 year old friend, that got me to the next step, then the next step, and finally, to the boarding of the plane.
I planned to sit alone, researching the planes so that the configuration suited this solo traveler, and the perks of flying business class proved just enough distraction to actually help me on take off.
I couldn’t help but wonder if Carol was with me and then, right at dinner, when the steward came to set up my table, he gave me my silverware and I gasped. For a while now, there has been living in my kitchen drawer, this beautiful blue, thick, slightly waxed string or tie. Carol must have saved it and it was just like her to save those things to add to a gift she would have given, add an embellishment to a card, or to add a special touch to whatever she may had been working on. I have no idea, but it’s pretty, so it still lives in the kitchen drawer. And, it’s origins finally revealed itself when the steward gave me the utensils – it was wrapped in THE beautiful blue, thick, slightly waxed string. It was then that I knew, my sweet Carol knew I was on that plane, actually wanted me there and supported my trip, and in true like Carol fashion, was ready to eat!
Well, after this moment, it was smooth sailing all the way into CDG airport! It was a fabulous flight, great service, and a perfect landing. Off I went to get my bags and the most amazing thing happened.
As I was waiting for the airlines to drop the bags, I was doing what all the other people on my flight were doing – staring endlessly into our cellphones – when I heard someone come up to me and say, “Hi. Michelle.” I pretended not to hear her because…this was France…Paris..who the hell knows me here. But, I looked up and it was a beautiful woman who was amazingly tall, and said with a smile “I know you from L.A. – Paula.” OMG! IT WAS PAULA!! She is in fashion and happens to go back and forth to Paris, on numerous occasions, every year. And, she just so happened to be on my flight. How serendipitous is that?! And, she suggested that we take the train into the city, which is something I’ve always wanted to do but didn’t want to try it by myself (bags and all and traveling solo). At this point I was just shaking my head and saying “Thank you Universe!” Not only did I bump into someone I know – I also got to take the train from CDG to Paris! We chatted all 30 minutes into the city and parted ways to our respected destinations.
I wasn’t to frightened at all handing my bags and navigating the metro system. I just had to have that serious look on my face and also a very European “Yes, I can’t believe I’m pushing these bags but I do it well” attitude about me. Lot’s of people are coming to and from different places, with all types of luggage, so I don’t really stand out. And, that is good.
I got to my hotel , Hotel Monge, in the 5th and it was just wonderful. It was as nice as the pictures show on the internet and the check in was extremely fast. My room was ready and it did not disappoint. I opened the door to room 401 and it was refreshingly cool and the color patterns and design made for a relaxing time while I freshened up! And, I just have to say, the LED light in the mosaic tiles in the shower was a fabulous touch!
Now, I know well enough that it’s never a good idea to “nap” when you come into a foreign country that’s got a nine hour time difference. So, what’s a girl to do? Head on out to those museums that are open late! And, it turns out that the first night I was in town there was a music festival all over the city, where bands and singers set up shop, just about every where and anywhere, to perform. It was quite amazing. When I came up from the metro to Center Pompidou, it was alive with people and DJ’s setting up for what was to be an incredible evening. I enjoyed the structure of the Pompidou and the art was extraordinary.
The art on the sidewalk below echo’s the current installation In the museum. Many more people arrived by the time I came out, 9:10pm, sitting on the pavement, drinking, eating, and enjoying their friends!
However, nothing compares to the walk back towards the hotel, when the sun is setting and you have the Seine River to your back. It’s so magical – the colors amazing – and everyone else knows they are witnessing the same beauty that you yourself are taking in.
I knew I had to stay up even a bit longer if I ever was gonna get used to this time change. So, the next stop would be a very late dinner – oye!
However, when there’s a music festival going on, it makes your dinner all the more lively!