Sitting at the airport waiting for my flight to Marseille, the loudspeaker announces that I’ll be delayed five hours and to hold tight. The looks on people’s faces are melancholy to say the least with Christmas just the following day. Hours later they announce that the flight has been canceled and to pack up our bags and arrive back the following afternoon.
Typically I would have been livid, but something in my gut had been telling me Provence was the wrong destination over the holidays. I would be staying in very small villages, with absolutely everything closed over Christmas, and barely anyone who spoke English. I believe it would have been beautiful, but a very lonely holiday for me.
Instead I got on my laptop and started spinning as to where my next adventure would take me! Miraculously I found a flight to Paris leaving in 2 hours for just $60 on Christmas Eve…the universe wanted me there! Trying frantically to cancel my previous bookings and arrange new ones, I lost out on quite a bit of money, but had to chalk it up to what it was…I wasn’t going to let it ruin my holiday.
Arriving in Paris at 11pm I hurried to my Airbnb where I checked in and was planning to go to the Midnight mass at Norte Dam. However once my head hit the pillow I knew I had to call it a day after being in the airport over ten hours. Awaking early afternoon (first time I was able to sleep in this vacation), I found a text from my sister introducing me to her friend Agnes whom she had met while taking theater classes in Boston. Graciously, Agnes invited me over for Christmas lunch with her daughters and friends from out of town. Her apartment was filled to the brim with paintings she had done and artwork by her daughters. We ate cheese fondue from the French alps which was absolutely delicious! It was nice to be surrounded by a loving family on Christmas.
Agnes and her friends walked me to mass at the famous Sacred Heart Church in Montmartre afterwards. We passed a subway station on the way and Agnes explained that many Syrian refugees lived under there until they started setting up camps for them right outside the city. It makes my heart ache for them thinking about their situation which makes me so angry. The couple that was friends with Agnes and who joined us for lunch were from Canada. They explained that their country hand picked 25,000 refugees to enter Canada…all who were Doctors,business men, etc. They explained that Canada does not have the same problems with people from war torn countries rushing their borders. I smirked and said that may be changing soon with Trump in office.
Mass at the Sarcred Heart was absolutely beautiful and brought me back to the time my ex fiancée and I backpacked Europe with one another when I was 23. I had not returned to Montmartre since then and all of these memories flooded back to me. I walked down the hill from the Sacred Heart and sat on the steps where Chris and I played cards for hours.
On my way to Portugal their was an 8 hour layover in Boston. I happened to order a coffee at one of the restaurants in the airport and realized that the very booth I was sitting in was where my ex fiancée and I had our first date. I am a firm believer that there are no accidents in life. Perhaps the universe was having me revisit that relationship as a way to mend myself and make this honeymoon even richer. Either way it was a walk down memory lane. My friend once said to me that in one persons life they can have many past lives. I consider my time in Boston to be centuries ago and can barely remember the person I was at that time. A lot of learning and a lot of progress since then.
One thing that I have not had any progress with is getting lost! With all of my might I tried to navigate my way from Montmartre to Avenue des Champs-Élysées which is all across town but supposedly a direct metro line. In the end, I pressed the easy button and hailed a cab. I arrived in the middle of the most elaborate Christmas market I’ve ever witnessed (Concorde)! Twinkling Christmas lights, ginger bread men, dazzling carousels, and nutcrackers were everywhere. Hundreds of little Christmas chalets were set up where local artisans were selling their crafts…it was marvelous. I stood in line to purchase some hot wine (yes hot!) and perused the different stalls looking for treasures. What I found interesting is when you’ve traveled extensively, you start to realize that no matter where you are in the world they are selling the same items but just marked up ridiculously. For instance, one of the stalls were selling these soaps that look like flowers in a hand carved bowl. I had bought the same souvenir for friends when I visited Bali for $5 each. Here in Paris they were selling them for $30!
I could not help but think this area would be a high target for terrorists. Thousands of people flocked the streets and it’s exactly the type of event that would make Paris on high alert. Just as I thought that I looked around at my surroundings and noticed guards with machine guns. Everywhere I went there were dogs, guards, and guns. In one sense this made me anxious but on the other I felt protected. As they say, you cannot live your life out of fear and allow the bad guys to win by changing your way of life. You just have to be cognizant, as my mother always says.
As I rounded the corner the magnificent Eiffel Tower appeared! No matter how many times you lay eyes on it it’s still miraculous (just like the Golden Gate Bridge in my opinion). Again, I remembered coming here with Chris on our 6th month anniversary (back when we were young and celebrated every month anniversary…too sweet). He had surprised me with a rose on top of the Eiffel Tower and I remembered being so in love.
For dinner I was on a mission to try Fois Gois, since where better to dabble than in grand ole Paris! I ordered a glass of Rose, escargot (my favorite!), and the Fois Gois. Needless to say I took one bite of the FG and almost spit it right out! How people find this a delicacy is beside me…it tastes like eating a stick of butter with a bad after taste. Different strokes for different folks. At least I still remain adventurous in trying new things, while being picky in what I choose to remain eating 🙂
What better way to end a beautiful Christmas evening than with a Parisian burlesque show?! I had not read much about this show and just bought my tickets online. Thank goodness I’m from San Francisco and not many things faze me for this show was not what I expected! It was more like a very fancy, absolutely beautiful, erotic striptease. The girls were stunning and the numbers were all fabulously choreographed, while the lingeraie was out of this world. All of the women in the show looked exactly identical with not one flaw on their bodies. Looking at the program later, it turns out these girls have to have exact measurements to even be considered to work at the Crazy Horse…right down to the size of their hips to the space between their nipples!
I went back and forth about what I felt about these women. On one hand, I felt badly that they had to starve themselves and played like puppets on stage only using their sexuality, while progressing the problem of women’s stereotypes. However, the other part of me found these women to be strong. They used their sexuality to gain power over the audience and probably made a ton of money doing so. If nothing else, it was a beautiful sentiment of femininity and a reminder to always be playful and sensual.
Off to Belgium tomorrow!