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Thursday, April 7, 2011

TRAVEL WITH SERENA -- GUEST TRAVEL WRITER DR. KELLE Z RILEY


Our intrepid guest travel blogger, Kelle Z Riley, is back again today with more tales from her early travels to Paris. Do you think she’ll get any sightseeing in this time? Read on to find out. -- AP

Kelle's kitties didn't want her to leave.
PARIS, PART 2
Hello fellow travelers!  I’m back after a month off to take care of some nagging health issues.  No doubt it was from a bug I caught while traveling.  So save yourselves the trouble of antibiotics and cough remedies and spend your travel time vicariously with me. . .  Last time we spoke (in Feb.) I told you of my first trip to Paris—where I saw some of the local industry rather than lots of tourist sites.

The second time I visited Paris—in winter—I stayed in a charming hotel in the heart of the city.  By charming, I mean small.  The room was as wide as a king sized bed and just a little longer!  My twin-sized bed lay so close to the window that I could reach out from under the covers and open or close the window to adjust the room temperature.  Since the room was boiling hot, it was delightful to be able to crack open the window and feel cool winter air swirl over the top of my down comforter.  Even the noise of the crowded streets four floors below seemed soothing.

Two feet from the foot of my bed and up one step was the bathroom.  If you dropped something in the shower, you had to get out and stand on the bath mat to retrieve it.  No kidding.  No bending to shave your legs allowed in this shower!  But there was plenty of warm water, so I had no worries.  The real beauty of the bathroom was a floor to ceiling window which could be opened just wide  enough to let me squeeze out onto a balcony.  The streets of Paris are narrow, winding, and intersect other streets at unusual angles.  Form my perch I could see a panorama of shops, pedestrians and vehicles of all kinds (from taxis to bicycles).  Every city has a special energy and I felt it keenly on that tiny balcony.

During this trip, I had some free time.  Two hours of it, to be exact.  In my 2 free hours, I went shopping (to purchase a souvenir suitcase to replace the one broken on the earlier legs of my journey).  Of course I also bought a beret and a scarf and some warm, fuzzy gloves.  The challenge (and a source of adventure) lay in the fact that I had no idea what the currency exchange rate was.  I was using Euros, but during that time the Euro and the U.S. dollar were not even close to the same in terms of spending power.  It is always scary to go to an ATM half a world from home and withdraw cash—you never know till you get home how much you’ve dented your bank account.  Ditto for credit card purchases.  But when you desperately NEED a suitcase on wheels—c’est la vie!

While my tourist activities were still severely limited (saw l’Arc de Triomphe from yet another cab window), I nevertheless learned some important aspects of French culture.  That is to say, I learned about the luxury of croissants, pain au chocolate (a flakey croissant-like bread with a bar of rich chocolate in the middle), and café au lait.  Warning: once you’ve had a croissant in Paris, you’ll never be satisfied with one anywhere else in the world!

The rest of the trip was dedicated to work and cab rides back to the airport where my sparkling new suitcase was properly broken in and began earning it’s travel legs.  We (my bag and I) went on to Germany, Amsterdam and finally home to the U.S., but that is a story for another blog.

I left Paris wishing I’d had more time and longing to return to the city.  As always, I hoped that the next trip would bring a chance to see the wonderful tourist sites that have inspired travelers for decades.  Cross your fingers. . .

I’ll see you next month!
Kelle

2 comments:

Denise Swanson said...

The last time I saw Paris...
Kelle, you have such a good attitude about all the inconveniences of travel. Next time I'm unhappy with something on my travels I'm going to think WWKD--What Would Kelle Do?

Nita Wick said...

I must definitely travel vicariously through you, Kelle. I've never been to Paris or Amsterdam. Never been to Europe. I would love to see it someday. I'm hoping the next time you go it will be for fun and adventure, not work. ;-)