So Sunday arrives and Laurent and I are off to Paris. First class no less. A friend has very kindly offered me their apartment in La Republique of which I am most grateful. This time upon arriving in Paris, I was more aware not to seem like a tourist. So shoulders squared and a walk of defiance was de rigeur and I marched through the Gare du Nord with barely a snese of having no idea where I was going. This is the key sometimes, if you can take on the mannerisms of being completely in your own element, not only can you fool others around you, but you also fool yourself.
So the afternoon was spent wandering the streets of Paris in the glowing sunshine. Having only ever experienced Paris in the winter this was a real treat. We walked along the Seine and past the Hipster area of La Bastille, which was positively pumping with life and people out and about having terraced lunches and cooling drinks on the pavement. Having a local Francophile was a plus as Laurent explained to me how and what was going on. The Paris Government had closed off a section of the riverbank and imported sand to dump on the sides to create a man made beach for the locals to enjoy in the sweltering heat that has been sweeping across Europe. Much to the chagrin of locals mind you as a local arterial is completely blocked off to achieve this, but then at this time, as explained by my tour guide, no-one is in Paris anyway as almost everyone heads to the coast for August and the first few weeks in September.
And what would our last day in Paris be without a little tipple to while away the afternoon hours. Both Laurent and I were feeling a
littel melancholy at it all being over, so a glass of Pommery at La Philosphes, a well known Paris eatery in La Marais was definetly in order. As we sat there, recounting oour adventures, we also felt incredibly lucky at having had the opportunity to explore, step outside of ourselves and take new leaps forward and be challenged. A rather nice positive reflection.
That evening I had a rathe wonderful final experience. Laurent was staying with his friend Bruno, and he doesn't speak much English. So here was I, poised in France and being put in that position where I have to be the odd one out and make the effort to enjoy the conversation without really speaking the language. Hard work maybe but what a wonderful way to feel real. Laurent was wonderfully patient with me and my Aussie-Gallic attempts at speaking and his friend was also helpful. But sitting in a Jewish cafe with locals all around me and even just attempting to get the gist of the conversation and actually managing to understand was rather fun.
Later on, we went for a drink in one of the bars, I was ready to go home but I thought, no, last night in Paris, you can't just go home and sit in your room. "what good is sitting, alone in your room". afterwards, we had to get back to our suburb and instead of taking the metro, Bruno suggested that we take a bike! Now Paris has the most wonderful system where you can collect a bike off an electronic rack, complete with lights and baskets, ride to wherever you want to go, and leave it at another rack for another commuter to use. It was positively hilarious fun, cycling along the streets of Paris with cars beside you, pootling aronnd La Bastille Monument, an iconic roundabout on bicycles in the middle of the night and feeling completely at ease. What a fabulous way to get around the city. And might I say, laughing the entire way! A wonderful way to finish off a most amazing trip.
Day 13 - Return Home
So here I am, flying over the northern tip of the Territory, heading back to Sydney. I am so grateful for all the incredibly uplifting experiences I have had on this journey. It has been no small feat to get there and to enjoy it and medals asides, it has been a huge personal journey of growth. Of learning things about myself and who I am becoming and what I can achieve. There is nothing like travel to sort that out for you. So, glad to be arriving back in Australian shores. Sad to have left new friends. Glad to have had such a mind shifting experience ... and ready for the next chapter.
Bring it on.