I will always remember Day 10. Day 10 was the day I began talking to myself. While aimlessly wandering the streets of Ile St-Louis I noticed that I was literally conversing with myself…out loud! The loneliness that I had felt creeping in over the past couple of days was officially full blown, and I was coping with it by engaging in conversation with none other than: moi. Embarrassed to admit it, the “feel sorry for yourself” kind of whimper that you get after being alone for a while was the exact feeling I was beginning to have. The only thing keeping this impending loneliness at bay, was my self imposed conversation, and the scrumptious caramel ice cream I had just retrieved from a local vendor (Ile (island) St-Louis is synonymous with Berthillon ice cream seen as only the best ice cream by Parisians and tourists alike).
After taking a few licks of my yummy treat, I proceeded to spill it down the front of my new coat and all over my camera. In immediate response to the spill, I heard myself saying aloud “Oops. Oh Jenn. How did you get so clumsy?” This was then followed by a giggle and an expression of pure shock as I replied to myself “Oh my lord, are you actually talking to yourself?” then the response, “Oui, you are talking to yourself.” Yikes.
I pressed on, window shopping along the narrow streets of the island and continuing in my conversation. I came across the most amazing biscuit store that gave me one of those “déjà vu” sorts of feelings… I had smelt this smell before. It was a mix of Christmas treats, a winter blizzard in Colorado, family, and a warm supper all mixed in one…it was splendid, and the warm smell brought the biggest smile to my face…not so lonely anymore I might add : )
After my ice cream relief, I spent the rest of my afternoon walking all over town looking for a bookstore called Shakespeare and Co. that Adam and I had had trouble finding during our last visit to Paris. Desperate, and quite determined to find the bookstore this time around, I walked for over an hour round and round the streets of the Latin Quarter and St-Germain Des Pres. As my frustration grew, and my tummy began to grumble, I also began to feel that all too familiar feeling of: sickness…yuck!
One thing I have noticed most while being in Paris is that EVERYONE appears to have a nasty cold. Runny noses, coughing without mouths covered (a nurse’s biggest pet peeve), flushed faces, and sneezes are all too prevalent everywhere I look. As I felt my body begin to ache, a nagging headache coming on, and my nose starting to run, I rushed into a little café across from Notre Dame and ordered French onion soup and a bowl of frites as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the soup and potatoes did little to relieve my feeling of malaise, so I headed home for the day to tuck myself into bed.
Hotel De Ville. A 2 block walk from my apartment.
My caramel ice cream cone with Ile St-Louis in the background on the left.
The incredibly yummy smelling biscuit place.
J’adore Dior : )
Cafe De Flore…an insanely pricey cafe in St-Germain des Pres.
Shakespeare and Co. I finally found it! It had been right where I had started looking for it hours earlier..it was hidden behind these massive bushes…damn bushes!
There were French and English books crammed in every nook and cranny.
My afternoon dose of soup d’ oignon and frites.
I woke 13 hours later feeling anything but cheery and energized. I spent my morning blowing my nose and crying to my husband about how I felt tired, sick, and worrisome about what would face me when I returned home: no job, no clue of what to do next, and a nagging fear that my bank account was quickly slipping between my fingers. In typical Adam fashion, I was listened to, given puppy dog eyes, a sympathetic expression, and reminded that Paris was “not a time to worry about the future,” but instead a time to enjoy the present and RELAX. Duh! What the heck was my problem?! Realizing that I was being absolutely absurd, I pulled myself together and once again hit the blustery streets of Paris (by the way have I mentioned that it is incredibly chilly here!!!)
With the goal to explore a real Parisian market, I hopped on the metro and took a 25 minute ride to Porte de Clignancourt. My guide book, as well as a quick Google search made me aware that Marche (Market) aux Puces de St-Ouen was the largest flea market in all of Europe, and I couldn’t wait to see it for myself! Unfortunately as the train got closer and closer to my destination, I became more and more aware that this was NOT the sort of excursion ideal for a woman traveling alone. All of the little hairs on my arms began to rise and every cell in my body came to attention. Crowds of people lingered around me, pushing and shoving aggressively as I moved out to the street. I walked briskly gripping my bags against my body as I was bombarded by men frantically selling everything from rip off Louis Vuitton to corn on the cob on hot coals in shopping carts.
I could hear every voice of my loved ones screaming at me to “Go back! Go back!” As I felt the first drop of rain hit my nose, I turned on my heels and immediately (and quite quickly) scurried right back to where I came from. On my ride back towards my apartment in Le Marais, I had a mix of feelings; mostly disappointment AND relief. I was disappointed that I wasn’t brave enough to face the market alone, but also proud of myself for listening to my instincts and turning around. I am well aware that there are areas of Paris that aren’t “safe” and I am not naive enough to think that I should wander ALL over the outskirts of Paris alone. Feeling a bit chewed up and spit out by Paris that day, I headed for more ice cream realizing how much better it had made me feel the day prior.
Despite some incredibly frustrating moments in Paris: getting lost searching for suggested sights from my guidebook, spending 4 euros on a crepe that was un-edible, being unable to rent a bike with my metro pass despite being told I could do so, not knowing how to turn on the heat in my apartment, and being ridiculed for my poor pronunciation, there have also been many, many moments that remind me of why I came here in the first place and moments that have made me fall even more in love with Paris. Like the man playing his accordion as I crossed one of my favorite bridges over the Seine, or the humongous St. Bernard who peed all over a moped today and reminded of my doggie at home, or the smell of fresh baguettes as their removed from the oven and placed in their crisp bags, or the shades of grays, blacks, and navy’s that are skillfully worn by the beautiful Parisian men and women scattered all over this city.
On one of my walks this weekend, I fell upon a paper store called: Papier +. Papier + is this simple, stunningly gorgeous little boutique filled with the most exquisite paper you have ever seen. They had brightly colored, perfectly bound journals in all shapes and sizes, stacks of envelopes, and endless containers of think round colored pencils, all of which ignited those creative juices inside me that I lust for day in and day out. I ran my hands over the delicate paper and imagined what it might be like to one day own my own little paper boutique, or run my own wedding planning business. I left the store on a high, excited to continue on my quest towards a new future.
The window display of Papier +. I knew it was a match made in heaven when I saw the navy and yellow!
They had these adorable fat, round colored pencils…I would have died to have every color.
Today, Sunday, determined to relax and enjoy some of the many books I lugged out here, I spent about an hour or so at the local market in Bastille and then made plans to sit at a café to read for a few hours. Marche Bastille was FAR cry from the market the day before, this one being more like the cute and quaint ones back home in Seattle. There was fresh produce, meats of all sorts, scrumptious cheeses, and a crowd far less displeasing than the last. Since my hands quickly turned to ice cubes from the cold, windy weather, I stayed only long enough to snap a few photos, buy some bananas and catch a glimpse of Place de la Bastille.
I spent the next 4 hours of my Sunday in some amazingly warm café called…………Starbucks. Okay, so I finally caved. I’d spent the last 12 days avoiding Starbucks like the plague downright determined to avoid anything “American,” but I just couldn’t take it anymore. Knowing I could get a venti decaf mocha for the same price of a teeny tiny little café au lait at a French café across the street became all too enticing; I was also eager for the taste of Seattle. It doesn’t help that the Starbucks is 3 doors away from my apartment and was bustling with French conversation AND was SUPER warm too!!! I ordered my mocha, nestled into a big comfy chair, propped my feet up and read for the next 4 hours straight (definitely not something allowed in a café, where sitting on a single cup of coffee for more than an hour is seen as excessive without ordering more). It was the best 4 hours of my trip thus far…no joke. I took momentary pauses to peek outside and see the gorgeous Parisians pass and once again said a special thank you to all of the things that got me to this place. A place where I could read a book all about entrepreneurship, sip on a warm cup of joe and dream big…real big.
Place de la Bastille.
The French don’t mess around.