Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Logbook: Paris II

Parisii1Thursday was overcast with occasional showers, so the three of us -- Jennifer, Kay, and I -- decided to take a tourist boat ride on the Seine. The ride held some promise of being a good way to see sights from a different perspective, but it turned out to be only so-so. The funniest part to me was the way the guide/narrator switched back and forth between French and French-Accented-English in such a way that it was really hard to tell where one ended and the other began. After a while, it all ran together in my ears and I pretty much gave up on it, opting to just enjoy the ride. Since Kay would be leaving in the morning, we decided to have a “night on the town” and try to view some of the city in the lights for which it is so famous. At dusk we took the Metro out to the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed watching it bloom in light against the twilight sky then started walking over toward the Champs Elysees. We didn’t get very far before our appetites kicked in and we stopped for a drink and a snack. As you might imagine, our night sightseeing plan soon gave way to more French dining and, well, we had a really good time! Kay headed to the airport early Friday morning -- ending her second successful co-exploration on The Voyage -- and I did some web stuff before packing up and moving over to “Les Gobelins”, an excellent little two-star hotel on a quiet street where my niece Jennifer was already staying.

She and I met up for lunch and began our time together in earnest with a fine, lengthy meal, some quality exploration planning and some of the great conversation that she and I are so fortunate to share. In the days that have flown by since then, we have had a really great time! Together, we have toured neighborhoods, seen sights, wandered through parks and even done some museums. Rather than give you a play-by-play recap of everything we’ve done -- the Photos pretty much show you -- I’m going to share just a few highlights:

1) Like me, Jennifer is less interested in “tourist stuff” -- and shares my lack of patience for standing in lines -- preferring to observe people and experience ambiance. So, when we went to places like Versailles where we confronted immense crowds, it was very easy for us to pass by the multi-hour long waiting lines and happily stroll the grounds until we found a nice place to have a picnic and people watch without feeling like we had “missed” anything.

2) Also like me, she always has a book on hand and is always game to just sit for a while in a nice park to read. There are many very nice “green” spaces in Paris, so we often found ourselves taking such pleasant book-breaks in the middle of our exploration, always feeling like it was a fine point of our day.

3) Another trait we seem to share is the willingness -- even eagerness -- to move off of a bad plan. On one outing we went to a high-class shopping district to people watch, but found the area not to our liking. Within a couple of blocks of walking, we simultaneously said “Nah” and moved onto something else (probably lunch!) This may not sound like a big thing, but flexibility and adaptability are important traits on The Voyage.

4) A good example of this last point is one day when we had planned a pretty full day of exploration, but I was being bothered by a tooth that felt like it might have a problem. I was concerned about it and mentioned so to Jennifer. Without blinking an eye she said, “You gotta do what you gotta do on The Voyage. I’ll go do some stuff on my own while you take care of your tooth. We can move our today plan to tomorrow.” So, I called a dentist in the neighborhood and arranged an appointment -- it turned out to be a false alarm! -- while Jennifer went off on her own. Again, maybe not a big thing, but an excellent -- and much appreciated -- attitude on her part.

Parisii25) There is also our shared sense of humor, marked mainly by an appreciation of irony. Jennifer immediately picked up on the irony that little obstacles or inconveniences in Paris aren’t really problems, they are mere incidents of getting “Franced” and we have had a lot of fun with that. Then there is the time we were having dinner and she broke into a wry grin so big she could hardly chew her food. Nodding her head, she drew my attention to the table next to us where a poodle’s head had popped up out a woman’s lap and placed it’s chin on the table. You gotta love the irony of us having dinner in a fancy restaurant with a dog!

I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the point. We have had a really delightful week in Paris. Jennifer is a natural traveler and a self-sufficient, independent explorer. We have enjoyed a comfortable balance of time together and time on our own, and I have been extremely impressed with her clarity about what she wants to do, her resourcefulness in doing it and her willingness to share her findings. Her facility with maps, the Metro, the culture, the language, etc., is truly remarkable and bodes very well for all of the travel that I am sure lies in her future. When she first mentioned to me her desire to join The Voyage in Paris, she said her intention was to “get to know” the city. In my mind, she has done that and more. Jennifer has earned a “Certificate of Total Domination” for Paris! Because she is heading home tomorrow, we are going to celebrate our time together at a fancy restaurant tonight. I have thoroughly enjoyed her company -- especially our lengthy, rambling conversations -- and I will look forward to the next time she joins The Voyage of Macgellan!

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