We have now been in the apartment for a month. And entertained family, decorated and undecorated for Christmas, and ran away to Paris. I’m beginning to forget I’m still only mid-way through the unpacking process. I’m becoming accustomed to the current clutter and that leads only to deepening chaos.
On the other hand, its hard to feel all moved in when there remains a huge hole in the master bath wall.
Which is scheduled to be fixed on Wednesday of next week. Adding the general something-happens factor, we may be done with the whole living in the middle the contractor tools by the end of the month.
In the meantime, it is back to snow here in Munich. I’m not used to life in snow. Didn’t have that stuff where I lived in California and in Portland – we just declared it universal Snow Day for everyone and waited till it went away (usually 48 hours at the most, sometimes as long as a week). Here – everyone bundles up in their big downy jackets and trudge forward while the fleet of rock scattering tractors for the sidewalks and gigantic snow plows for the roads keep the way clear.
Did I mention we went to Paris last week? As in, just boarded a train to Stuttgart and then switched to the French TGV High Speed train. 250? kilometers per hour on some parts of the track. The fastest I’ve ever gone while still being on the ground. So elegant. No seat belts, no shoe removal, just get on board and go. Walk around when you want. Stare out the window and see how much the countryside looks like the Northern Willamette Valley and Yamhill Valley in Oregon.
I never thought I’d be in Paris. Just wasn’t on my must-do list and besides, everyone knows the French hate the Americans and it would just be one gigantic week of snobbery. Only once we got here and started looking at the map I knew I wanted to go to Paris. Because I could. Because it is now as about to “next door” as San Francisco is to Portland. We originally thought the bathroom would be fixed while we were gone but that didn’t work out. We went to Paris anyway.
We arrived at the East Train station and walked about ten minutes to our VRBO apartment. We dropped our bags and started walking toward the center of town in the twilight.
It was awesome. It was magic. It was … how do I say this? It was Paris. It was everything that Paris is in the movies, in the 1950’s photos, in the romance. We knew little of where we were or what we were walking past which made finding everything a joyful surprise. Will you look at that! A street full of the best cheese stores ever! We kept going, walking through a massive construction project that is Les Halles under renewed construction, till we finally arrived at The Seine. The River by which all city waterfronts are judged. The River every single movie made in Paris comes to film. The River of history and romance and eternity. The Eiffel Tower glittered off in the distance. The Eiffel Tower! As beautiful as every image had promised and more beautiful then that!
We walked, rode the bus, took the Metro but mostly walked everywhere. And ate, and looked, and watched and ate. Paris is an intense city. Highly populated, there’s an energy that buzzes all day long. And as for hostility toward Americans? None. Not at all. Gracious, welcoming hospitality. It helps that we were there in January when the city was mostly tourist-free. We got up close and personal to everything in all the museums, we got to sit in what ever restaurant was open we chose, and we could ride the metro or walk down city streets without too much concern for theft or crowding. We got to see Paris when it had a chance to be Paris and not Disney-Paris.
Coming home, our train was nearly empty as it was running late. So late that the ticket checkers had clocked off and were sitting around in one of the compartments having their own party. So late entire cars were empty. We took over a compartment, stretched out our legs and read our way home in the night, a beer at hand. Our train arrived in Munich and in ten minutes we were on the familiar U-bahn heading home. No long waits for our luggage or trudging out to the car or long drives in from the airport. Seamless. Biggest challenging – remembering to ask for beer in German not French.
The intention is this: Second weekend of the month we go somewhere. We have at least 33 months left. Back to Rome, out to Madrid, off to London, and then there’s Taize, Iona, Provence, Prague, Amsterdam, Brussels….
Meanwhile, there remains this: