I’m finally back from my first ever trip to Europe (I’ve been told that the Euro side of Turkey does not really count as Europe, too bad) and I could not have been more glad that the destination was France. To say that the country is beautiful and the cultural sights even more so, would be stating the very obvious. And we’re not even talking about the food yet. Those gastronomic delights in all their orgasmic glory. And because it was spring when we were there, the gardens that we’ve been to in Paris were all abloom with vibrant-colored flowers – bringing to mind my dear friend Cris C. who would probably take only half a second to put a name on each and every flower, him being a landscape artist slash wedding organizer and all. But this spring was not at all what I expected spring would feel like. And by feel, know that I am talking about the temperature which, at 5 degrees and sometimes less at night, is already too much for a tropical creature like myself. Although Eric reminded me that I survived Beijing at -2 degrees when we were there in 2010, still, it didn’t feel like it was any warmer. But perhaps if I brought along with me a more appropriate set of clothing – more thermal wear and thick jackets maybe – then I would not have suffered so. I keep teasing C that it was his fault making me believe spring was all pretty and such, weather-wise, and so I packed mostly short dresses and open-toed sandals – none of which I was able to wear at all during our stay. Thank God, I had half a mind to buy the white faux leather jacket at Cache Cache for my aborted trip to Jordan last year – at least they found their way to France and was greatly abused, might I add. Later you will see just how much I had maximised the use of that jacket – one of the only two keep-warm essentials I packed. Obviously not C’s fault because I have the reputation of being on perpetual summer mode – my closet will most certainly attest to that.
Traveling alone to Paris was in itself already an experience for me. Though I have traveled quite a few times alone, they were mostly in Asia and places I am more or less quite familiar with. I took Qatar Airways which has its stopover in Doha, where incidentally, we were delayed for two hours due to some technical problems with the aircraft. Good thing the airport had free wifi access for passengers so I was able to inform C of the delay via FB. I was literally on tenterhooks during the final leg of my travel that I brushed my teeth and washed my face in the aircraft lavatory four friggin’ times! You see, I was going there to meet C’s family for the first time and the idea kind of made me nervous and I am known to do strange things when I’m nervous. If I could only take a shower there, I probably would have done so as well.
So anyway, I finally landed at the Charles de Gaulle airport and C was there to meet me, looking all cute and sweet as always. We haven’t seen each other in nearly two months so it was obviously a very happy reunion, with a capital V. We took the TGV to go to his sister’s place up North and the journey was c’est magnifique on so many levels. Ask Atche, he knows. *insert suspense soundtrack here*
I didn’t have time to fix myself up as the whole family was already at the train station to meet us. I’m pretty sure I looked like a hobo with my hair all messy (not that my hair looks great in other weather conditions) and face all dry, thanks to the freezing temperature and mad gusts of wind. Up until that time, I had only seen C’s nephew and niece on photos and I fell madly in love with them on sight! Both of them are so beautiful, well-mannered, sweet, and smart it was quite painful for me to leave after only four days. C had to find ways to entertain me on our train ride to Paris because I was so overcome with sadness after I hugged the kids for the last time just as the train started to pull away from the station.
I had the most beautiful time up north despite the crazy rainy weather which lasted pretty much the whole weekend and extended all the way until our departure for Paris. The sun only came out for a day and we spent it walking around Ardres, which was truly beautiful, by the way, with its little shops, church, boulangerie, restaurants, and beautiful houses and chalets. The rest of time, we were just indoors playing with the kids and chatting with the grown-ups. Yes, I do speak French very fluently you wouldn’t think I’m foreign at all! NOT. Because I spent so much time with the kids, my French vocabulary has expanded to now include the numbers 1 to 10, some animal names, and a few expressions. Yey!
My impression of the North? It was just as the saying C shared which goes a little something like this: The people in the north have the sun in their hearts which they don’t have in the sky. They’re such sweet people and it’s a shame that the weather can be so horrible sometimes, if not most of the time.
Now Paris on the other hand is sublime. Elegant, captivating, intoxicating (I may have had one glass too many of all sorts of wine, teehee) are only some of the words I can think of right now and even then I fear that they’re not enough to really capture the enigma that is Paris.
Ever the sweet and loving fiancé, C made sure I absorb as much of the city as possible given the limited time we had. He took me to a lot of touristy places and fed me loads of French food so that I may never have to go and hanker for fastfood and junk anymore. Oh you must see how C cringes whenever I would lather my French croissant with an unhealthy layer of Nutella and butter! I’ve been told it’s almost tantamount to desecrating the famous French bread. Yikes. Unfortunately on our last full day in the city, he came down with high fever and we had to make some adjustments on our plans for the day. But even when debilitated, he still took me to Musée du Louvre so I can go and see the Mona Lisa (how very original of me, right?) and other glorious works of art and be swept away to another period in time. He really is an absolute darling and he knows me too well already, I couldn’t help but love him dearly. Yiheeee.
Anyway, these are all my memories of France and the City of Lights (oh, incidentally, I never got to see Tour Eiffel at night so I guess I will have to tick that off my bucket list next time – along with a more exhaustive tour of Musée du Louvre since we only got to cover a small portion of one section because C was in such a bad shape due to his fever) and I know there’s still so much to see and experience. I hope you will love the photos as much as I loved every bit of my time there.
From the North, we now go to Paris – where to love and being loved in return is really the most glorious thing that can happen to any person. How very Moulin Rouge. With that, let me first give you…
And of course, some of the food I have tried and salivated for over and over and over again. But one thing I noticed though – and was extremely happy about, mind you – was the fact that I didn’t go home as fat as I had anticipated, despite the unreasonable amount of food and sweets I devoured day in and out. I must’ve gained only 2lbs or so and they all seemed to have gone on my arms I could’ve sworn they looked like Johnny Bravo’s or Popeye’s after he’s had spinach in some photos. LOL. It must have been all the walking and uhrmmm, yes, definitely the walking, which we did a lot of while there.
One thing I regret and I learned just the expression for that – c’est dommage – is that I missed the Paris Marathon!!! I didn’t know that it was on the 15th of April – the same day C and I were to fly back to Singapore. We saw the banners when we were at Tour Eiffel and it was such a heartbreaking moment because I packed my running gear: Reebok and C-WX were just sitting prettily atop my luggage, lonesome and unused. Had I known, I would most likely sign up and join because my fellow runner who’s based in Paris said they actually opened the registration slots last minute and I could have joined a few Pinoy runners there! C’est dommage indeed!
We also spent time with some of C’s couple friends and both couples were just lovely! The conversations were just as good as the food, if not more. Here we have the sweet couple Rene and Carmen whom I first met in Phuket in 2010 when C and I were on Christmas holiday and they were on their honeymoon. Unfortunately, we didn’t take photos with Vanessa and her husband who invited us over to their lovely home for dinner the previous night. I especially enjoyed listening to them talk about their University days and how C had always been so freakishly neat and clean and organized. One of the many things I love about him, by the way.
But of all the things I have come to love and cherish about my trip, these are the ones I miss the most. The kids, especially, were my source of ardent joy in all those days in Calais. Sometimes I could hear their cheery voices in my head saying ‘Vicky! Vicky! Vicky!’ and egging me to play hide-and-seek or just cuddle with them.
PS: ALL original photos, by the way.:)