Our family spent a whirlwind, 3 day exploration in Paris. It is always the Number 1 vacation spot to visit, falling to #2 this year only because so many people are going to London to see the Olympics in person. Next year, Paris will be the top vacation spot again (as usual) so I had to go to see what all the fuss was about. Everyone reading this blog has learned of my bucket list and "to do's" that have been met on this sabbatical and crossed off. Just like gondola rides and experiencing vertigo at the leaning Tower of Pisa, Paris held a very special and unique goal on my list. It involved the Eiffel Tower. I know that most bucket lists include this famous icon, but my requirements were truly unique. Just seeing it did not count. My goal stated that I had to gaze at the Eiffel Tower while sitting in a French cafe and sipping espresso. This meant that, not only did I have to find the famous tower, I also had to find a cafe within viewing distance that served espresso and even had an empty table and chair for me to occupy. (a challenge at most Paris cafes, even those far away from Eiffel). I think this strange requirement stems from seeing way too many Hollywood movies that show an Eiffel-filled view from every apartment window, restaurant, park bench and, yes, every cafe in Paris. I am not sure how this is possible, but growing up, I knew it was true and my goal would be very easy to meet. Just find any cafe, order some coffee, then sit back and gaze away. I now have been to Paris and I can tell you that such is not the case. We visited the structure twice and both times we had it in plain view and began walking towards it. Both times, half-way to our destination, we lost it and were turning in circles on a Paris street yelling "Where did it go? How did we lose something so BIG?!" (Either the French residents are use to this phenomena or they thought our family really strange, spinning in circles like Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly in "American in Paris") Both times, after some serious walking, we relocated it and resumed our trek, finally ending up at the equally beautiful and impressive structure. But where was my cafe? My espresso? My cute guy wearing a black beret and striped shirt? (Wait, maybe that was my mime) The second time we visited and I still had an Eiffel Tower on my bucket list, I was really feeling hopeless.
We walked back towards our hotel, looking in shops and restaurants. All I could think about was my bucket list failure. How could I come this far and fail? Without looking for anything in particular, I glanced over my shoulder as I had this feeling that someone was following me. To my total surprise, there stood the Eiffel Tower, looking down at me even though we had already walked for blocks! I quickly looked around and saw a cafe just down the block with an empty table. Like a kindergartener making a mad dash for the last available seat in Musical Chairs, I ran down the sidewalk and skidded into the chair, moving it a few feet. (OK, several feet) I'm sure my fellow diners were impressed as well as startled. I put packages in the other 3 chairs for my family members who were still searching for me. When Jim finally reached the table, his obvious question was something about what in the world was I doing? I simply stated, "Look behind you. I am going to mark one off the list." He and the girls sat down and I ordered espresso for Jim and I. Forgetting my own rule of speaking s-l-o-w-l-y so that the French who know English as a second language can follow my train of thought, I began talking a mile a minute to our unsuspecting waiter about how this spot was on my bucket list and now I was meeting my goal and the Eiffel Tower was in front of me and he would soon be bringing my coffee. He merely nodded, smiled and said, "Good!" I knew he had probably only understood Eiffel Tower and coffee and was wondering why Americans needed to compile a list of all of their buckets. He brought my espresso and Jim's, keeping his distance so as not to catch the crazy American lady's mental illness. That turned out to be a good thing because as soon as the cup was placed on the table, Jim knocked it off, baptizing the French sidewalk. The waiter doubly liked us now. He was gracious and brought us another espresso, free of charge, with the instructions to drink up, as in fast, and cautiously backed away from the table. I didn't care. I was basking in the glow of the Eiffel Tower, sipping an espresso, humming La Vie En Rose and imagining that every person that walked by was wondering who the cute French girl was. Speaking in a fake French accent, singing to herself, and clearly a little crazy, no?
Je Amour Vous!