Well, I’m back in Toronto again, after a fabulous time overseas.
My head is a little scrambled from jet lag and plane travel, but it’s good to be home again. It was pure bliss sinking into my sofa and going to sleep in my own bed – little things, I know, but very nice all the same.
Memories from the trip are all spinning around my mind and we have hundreds of digital photos to sift through. Jeff was the main photographer of the trip, while I wandered around drinking in our surroundings. It was already apple blossom time over there and everything was green and lush.
All the firsts are standing out for me right now – the video game-like car ride on the “wrong” side of the road to Jeff’s uncle’s house, my first peep of London upon leaving Leicester Square Tube station, seeing (and hearing) Big Ben, the cab ride from Gare du Nord in Paris giving us our first experience with Paris’ beautiful and crazy streets, rounding a corner and seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time, walking along the Seine towards the ancient core of Paris, seeing the splendour of Sainte Chapelle…
I discovered that most of the cliches of Paris are true – Parisians, especially women, are beautiful, everyone wears scarves, 6 euro coffees are ubiquitous, service in cafes and bistros is impeccable, and it really is as achingly beautiful as everyone says. Cliches that didn’t fit for us – Parisians weren’t rude at all – unless we pulled a bonehead tourist move, and we didn’t see much dog poop. In fact, we found Paris to be one of the tidiest, cleanest cities we’ve ever visited.
Unlike experiences in Ottawa and Montreal, Parisians let me speak in my broken, poorly accented French, and what’s more, they understood me and spoke back to me in French! The first time I had a successful (though mercifully short) exchange, the feeling was electric. Thanks to a phrasebook borrowed from a friend, I learned the magic phrase “Je voudrais” (I would like), which opened up the world for us.
But, as much as I fell in love with Paris, London was immensely likeable, and of the two cities, I spent more time imagining living there. I’m a pub girl, and there really is a pub on every corner there. While preparing for this trip I spent much more time focusing on the history and geography of Paris. This was partly because we knew that language barriers would be an issue, and also we spent less time there, so I didn’t want to be bumbling around. Plus, in London we had Jeff’s very helpful uncle to steer us in the right direction for sightseeing, Tube info and restaurant suggestions. As an English major in University, it was a surprise to me to discover how much I remember from my English Lit. courses and saw the history of London unfold.
I honestly did not want to leave. If I could have snapped my fingers and had all my stuff transported to an affordable flat, with two exceedingly indignant cats wondering what the hell happened, I would have.
Photos and anecdotes to follow.