… I hated it. In 2005 after getting off the Eurostar, I stepped out from the Gare du Nord train station, saw the wrought-iron buildings and thought – this is not New York nor is it San Francisco. I’m from Los Angeles. When I travel I want “City”. I want my skyscrapers. We stayed for 3 days, schlepping around the city with two teenage girls. I listened to CNN World News every night, even the sports, just to hear some English.
For my husband and me, it wasn’t the City of Love but rather the realization that we would have to pay for every trip to the loo, humiliate ourselves ordering from menus and fighting with museum cashiers who tried to shortchange us. And this from someone who had studied French for nine years, starting in fourth grade and majored in political science - European international relations, no less.
I kept waiting for the people to switch to English, just like my teachers did. But no, they actually spoke the damn language. It wasn’t a high school class and waiters had no patience waiting for me to retrieve long learned but lost words from the tip of my tongue.
Fade out, fade in … December 2012.
Same husband, same kids, one studying in Paris, one flying in from classes in Berlin. Ensuing years of much French relearning. Up four flights to a small apartment in the Marais. Arrondisement guide book and camera in hand everyday for three weeks. Becoming a Metro rider pro.
I’m still processing the experience back home in Southern California sunshine with temperatures in the 70’s, enviously reviewing internet photos of the Paris snowfall we missed. Bien sûr, I took many, many photos and copious notes about sights, activities and impressions which I hope to share.
Humbled by the site of the Eiffel Tower which we had somehow missed the first time, I walked toward it speechless. I was back and I was smitten.