We arrived in Paris on June 20, and I've been too busy getting acclimated, seeing friends, and walking for 10 hours a day to even think about blogging. This morning I woke up, and for the first time, felt this let down, like I really need to write and chill out and do nothing for a couple of days. The last thing I want is for this blog to seem like an annoying slide show of my trip, where I traipse you around one sight from the next, and assume that you'll be interested. That said, if I were diligently keeping a scrapbook, I'd be gluing in ticket stubs from the Eiffel Tower, the Pompidou, the Bayeux Tapestries up in Normandy, and every Gothic cathedral in between.
The strongest impression on me about the neighborhood where we're staying, Monmartre, is the height of the hills. My first morning here, I woke up jet lagged and headed out to climb to the top. This is always my favorite time of day; I love watching a city wake up slowly. Shopkeepers were cleaning the sidewalks and water was gushing down the gutters of the windy cobblestone streets. After climbing a few hundred stairs, all tolled, I found myself inside of the Sacre Coeur basilica, one of about five people sitting in the pews. Outside, the view across Paris was so pretty that I got weepy, but I always cry when I'm jet lagged. When I was in Rome a decade ago, I cried in front of the Pieta, and at a restaurant eating chocolate truffles, and Jim hasn't let me forget it (probably because I also fell asleep sitting up in front of the truffles).
The apartment we've swapped for is wonderful. It's smaller than our own (described by our swappers as a 50 meter one bedroom), which means less to clean at the end. It's big on charm: there are wooden floors and French windows with wrought iron gates and geraniums, and a perfectly serviceable kitchen that has already seen it's share of pastry, cheese and wine visitors. The aesthetic of the people who live here is very similar to my own. Sara has a gift for taking old objects and creating shadow box dioramas with them, which has given me ideas of how to corral my own incomprehensible collection of nostalgic bits and pieces. One of the unexpected gifts this place has given to me is it's simplicity; the fact that they're childless means there's none of the extra kid crap swarming about creating chaos everywhere I step, constantly. In truth, Jamie's happy with a pile of paper and markers since he's moved into the "constantly drawing Super Heroes" phase of his boyhood.
I have two mental adjustments to make about being here: one is that we're here for six weeks, so I don't need to run around seeing everything there is to see in a week, which would be exhausting and futile. The second is that I'm traveling with a 7 year old boy, which is similar to traveling with a giant puppy. He needs to be fed and watered and have many chances to run and play every day. This has created a daily barometer for me, and instilled a schedule of sorts where there is none. The other major adjustment? That it stays light until roughly 11 pm, but that's another story...