Many people get excited about the end of the year because of the holidays, the time off, the food, and seeing family and friends. Don’t get me wrong, all of that is awesome (duh), but another tradition I get excited about around this time is seeing the next year’s “where to travel” lists, the pinnacle, of course, being the NY Times’ “52 Places to Go in 2018.” Yes, I was one of the 9,000 people to apply for the job of visiting and writing about each of the 52 places over the upcoming year. I didn’t get it.
Just as all parents hear advice on raising children from people who don’t have them, all travelers can relate to people who “poo-poo” on where they are going without having been there themselves. I get so annoyed with the people who say: “I hear Rome is overrated.” “I hear India isn’t safe.” “I hear the French ask Americans to stop butchering their language when they speak French.”
No, this isn’t a post about where the best graffiti in Paris is or where you should get a tattoo of a macaron (but if you do have a tattoo of a macaron on your body, please send me a picture). This a post about how to enjoy Paris without necessarily following in the footsteps of everyone else, and there will be many others.
In March, I continued my whirlwind trip of 10 cities in six weeks, and accidentally added one more city to that list. March came in like a few days in magical, mythical Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic, where I met a person whose profession is “fire eater”, and went out in the only Starbucks within a half hour in a drizzling, ghost-town-in-the-winter on the Jersey Shore. That makes it seem like I’m not happy to be home – this is not the case. It’s awesome sleeping in my own bed, having access to all of my possessions that are not packed away in my sister’s basement, and not having to pay for all of my meals. Well, and having phone service all of the time, being in the same time zone as most of my friends, and being able to catch up on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. And, of course, being with my family and the pup, and reuniting with friends.
Visiting Paris has been a huge dream of mine since 1994, when I first started pretending I was in the art scene. I wore a red French beret and a black turtleneck with a music note pin on my chest pretty much every day. I imagined taking the train to Giverny to see Monet’s Gardens in person, visiting the Picasso Museum, and seeing Mona Lisa at the Louvre. Giverny was closed for the season until the weekend after I left Paris and the Musée Picasso had a limited collection while they prepared for a special exhibit, but Mona Lisa? She was there. And I was going to see her.
Although I’ve been in the Paris airport multiple times, as it’s a major hub for Delta, I’d never been to France until last May. Kater and I planned a trip to Switzerland in between her trip to France and Italy, but a few weeks before we left, we decided I would meet her in Lyon, France instead of Geneva, Switzerland as originally planned. This would be my first chance to set foot on French soil.