Having lived with chronic illness for a few years now, I have to say, travel is one of the things I look most forward to, as it is an escape from the pain and the mundane.
Last April, my husband and I took our first trip to Paris together. I can literally still smell and taste it as if, in some small way, it became a part of me, and I a part of it. We’d started out in London, and when we arrived in Gare du Nord (North Station), I felt very much like I’d just arrived in a well-dressed, well-mannered, more mature version of New York City. Even the McDonald’s seemed sophisticated.
We made our way to our hotel in Vendome, went up to the room, opened the shutters and, as I inhaled the fragrant springtime air, I immediately felt welcomed, as if I belonged. I felt a connection with Paris I hadn’t felt since I visited Venice, Italy in 2004.
Being a couple who loves to eat, our very first stop after the hotel was a local patisserie: deux pan au chocolat et deux espresso. We had at least 15 more pan au chocolat after that, and possibly 300 epressos. When I am traveling, my dietary restrictions fall by the wayside. And, ironically, so do my symptoms (for the most part). There is no fatigue, no pain, no other weird things. Just a little trouble with digestion, which is common for most travelers.
My husband and I travel really well together. We walk a ton, eat a ton, sightsee, chat with the locals, goof off, and rest. Then we do it all over again. On our London – Paris trip, we clocked 50 miles over the course of eight days.
We love to hit the charming local spots, where you wouldn’t find many tourists, but might be shunned by the locals for not speaking the language well. We don’t mind. We’d rather be shunned than not get an authentic flavor of what life in said city might really be like.
On this trip, we had authentic local basque (Chez Gladines), the best steak frites EVER (Le Relais de l’Entrecote), the best profiteroles (also Le Relais), the best pastry (Ble Sucre and Claus), and some of the absolute best beef bourguignon we will ever have in our entire lives (La Cave Gourmande), even if the server wasn’t the friendliest. (Please bear with me as I brush up on my food porn photo skills.)
Aside from all of the palatable cuisine, Paris itself exuded an aromatic bouquet that could entice even the most practical man. Think high-end fragrance with subtle notes of chocolate, sugar, and peony. It is inexplicable, actually, but utterly magnificent. Paris reminded me of a grandmother all dolled up and dipped in her best perfume. It is perfectly graceful, elegant, and chic.
Ahhhh. As I daydream about being back in Paris, we prepare for our trip to Spain in May, and hope it will compare in some way.
Until next time, I love you grandma, err, Paris.