The Musée d’Orsey, has the best collection of art I have ever seen in my life. It’s beyond words so I’ll just leave it at that. Think of your favorite ten paintings. Nine of them are at the Musée d’Orsey. It’s mind boggling.
Afterward, I marched my tired feet to a café.
It was my own fault.
I shouldn’t have gone to a café near a touristy spot. Mais… I was tired. I needed a time out after all that art. My feet and back were sore and the only thing that would ail my aching self was a café au lait.
I sat at the most perfect table and ordered from the most perfect french waiter. That’s when I realized I was surrounded by young english-speaking travelers. Not exactly the perfect Parisien experience I’d hoped for.
These youngin’s spoke of being hung over, of boyfriend drama back home, of school. One chick grabbed for the bread at the table and explained exasperatedly, “I haven’t eaten all day.” Drama queen.
I can’t blame them for simply being young. I can blame them for being loud.
“You’re still young. That’s your fault. There’s so much you have to know.”
–Cat Stevens, Father and Son
They quieted down when they reviewed the menu. I saw stress on their faces. They were probably not aware that the restaurant was this expensive. They were probably looking for the cheapest dishes, wondering how they will stretch their budget. Perhaps tomorrow they can cut back. But today, here they are, reviewing the menu and mentally counting the Euros in their pockets. No turning back now.
Been there. It’s an unpleasant moment. My heart melts for travelers who are trying to travel as much as they can with the little they have.
Then there is me. Eavesdropping and staring.
I have my journal and my thoughts to keep me company. It’s surprisingly pleasant. I’m finding I’m quite good at being left to amuse myself. If I were one of them, I would have been looking over at the girl writing alone at the next table and wishing it were me.
And it is me! How fantastique!
And I’m not stressed about the menu either. I have just a café au lait. I packed a sandwich and will eat it in the park by the Eiffel Tower later. No social pressure to eat at a pricey restaurant. No siree. Just me, myself and I sipping our legal addictive stimulant at the bar.
The waiter came up to me and spoke in english.
“How did you know I spoke english?” I asked coyly, knowing full well that my super anglo accent gave me away.
“You speak french?” he asked.
“Oui. Un petit peu.”
“Vous êtes très belle,” he smiles and winks.
I smile back. “Je comprendre. Merci.”
With renewed vigor and a spring in my step, I left the youngin’s to their menu and silently wished them well in their travels.
We’re all just trying to figure it out.
Then I traipsed off to find the Eiffel Tower. I sheepishly admit that I hadn’t bothered to make it to the famous tower yet. I’ve been gallivanting in other ‘hoods.
There will always that moment when you see it for the first time. There is the Eiffel Tower. Right there. And you’re seeing it with your very own eyes. There. It. Is. And you think to yourself of all the effort it took to get here, to this moment when you’re really here. You’re really in Paris. You really did it.