Traveling is a funny thing. No matter how many times I cross the Atlantic or Pacific there is still that anticipation of adventure and excitement. What’s that you say? I’ve been to Paris so many times there is no adventure? No, your wrong. Adventure and excitement come in small bits coupled with seconds of confusion and miles walked on tired, swollen feet. It’s a glass of wine at a cafe, or sharing a coffee with a new friend in a strange kitchen. Adventure is getting to know people you would have never met in your own neighborhood.
Adventure comes in the form of ticket kiosks, at large and busy train stations, making reservations for restaurants in a language you don’t speak and staying at hotels where it’s a journey to your charming room at the top of 6 flights of stairs under the garrett (the elevator only goes to floor 5). It’s realizing the ground floor is 0, and cold is hot and hot is cold when you turn the tap.
Such was the many experiences of my guests this year. The first to arrive were Tami and Kelly, who traveled to London, caught the train at St. Pancras Station and slowly but surely made their way to Paris. Here they are with Annette, whom they met on the plane. She took them under her wing and delivered them to St Pancreas.
From Gare du Nord they decoded the metro map and arrived at the Grand Hotel Dore. In the true spirit of adventure they didn’t nap, but toured the Eiffel Tower, dined at a local cafe and finally ended the evening at the bistro across the street.
Next was Susan, a South African living in Canada, whom, never having been to Paris, stood in front of Gare de Lyon to orient herself and decide how she would travel to the Pierre’s apartment in the 12th. According to Susan, everyone helped her with her suitcase and directed her to the right stop. When she rang the bell, I opened the door to a big smile and a lovely voice saying, “You must be Pam”. We hugged and I knew instantly we would be friends.Ok so I didn’t get to bed until 2 AM. I had planned on meeting Lisa, the next arrival at the Gare de Lyon Air France bus stop. Needless to say I overslept, Lisa waited for me 3 hours. Her adventure was only just beginning. She navigated the soda machine and managed a Diet Coke. At the cost of 2 Euros a bottle, she was looking for the bill slot when she realized the she had a 2 Euro coin. Voila! Another mystery solved. Feeling confident she then stood in line, bought her ticket and decided if I didn’t show up, she would just climb on the train and head to Vichy. Bravo Lisa!
When I climbed out of the cab at the station, I remember thinking there can’t be too many blonds with curly hair. ”Monsieur, avez-vous vu une femme blonde aux cheveux bouclés? “ I ask the Air France busman. In a very stern manner her replied, “Elle a attendu trois heures.”
Pointing three fingers at me. Où at-elle aller? Where is she? Ou est cest trop? "Je ne sais pas" he replied. I climbed the stairs and looked toward the station and there she was, that blond hair shining in the sunlight. “Lisa” she looked up and with relief in her face we feel into each others arms. “I was afraid you wouldn’t show up!” she said. “I was afraid you were lost!”I replied.
Over cafe creme and chocolate croissants we talked about her trip, her wait and the upcoming week. We then bought sustenance for the train, found our coach, seat and headed to Vichy.
At noon Debbie arrived tired, but game for anything. She had traveled from New York, through Cincinnati into Paris and finally Vichy. Having attended last year, Debbie and Lynn were thrilled to see one another again.We were wined and dined by the very handsome owner, Patrick Corrazzin. Here's a snap of Lynn and Patrick.
And then the rest of the girls arrived, their train was delayed by a knife wielding, ticketless ruffian. After a bit of a struggle he was apprehended, and the train moved on. Only 10 minutes late, their train pulled in and out they spilled, luggage and laughter.
Stay tuned for more adventure..........
All text and photos belong to The Gypsy Chef.