So, yesterday I suddenly found myself thinking of the time I spent in that building and then of the lovely cozy café at the Paris mosque, right behind the Institute, which still accounts for the best mint tea I have ever had. It was a well spent afternoon that, learning much, and then stuffing myself with over sweet baklavas and the sort. Later on in the evening, I was sorting through files and started looking at photos from Paris and it just seemed so, so long back – the first of many travels that followed. I traveled to Paris alone on my fathers first class ticket – he had won a single ticket in a golf tournament to Frankfurt and his crazy travel schedule meant he would not really be taking a vacation alone. After much pestering that I should be given the ticket and then that, no, I did not want to go to Frankfurt but to Paris, I finally had my way. It was a mad rush before I left … I got my visa in a day – at 4 in the evening. My flight was at 11 at night.
Knowing the language and all the sights, having wanted to visit for eons – it was very difficult to believe that I was actually in Paris once I was there. I was lucky I could stay in Paris for close to two weeks because my cousin was working there at the time. I stayed in her tiny, tiny apartment that seemed to be the perfect example of living in a shoe box. But it was equidistant from the Opera and the Louvre and I could walk pretty much anywhere. I remember I never did figure out how the front door lock worked and was perpetually locked out, wandering the streets before I could be let back in. And there were bakeries all around. I woke up everyday to the smell of baked bread or rather, as I was told, the baked bread spray thing the boulangers used to entice customers early in the morning. Still. Mornings there smelt great.
There was so much to see. So many, many museums – I went back to d’Orsay twice, took an afternoon nap at the Louvre’s Cour Puget (I was in line to get in at 7.30 in the morning and by afternoon was so tired from just walking within the museum, so exhausted from looking at all that there was to see…), was most amazed and amused at all the kinky people who seemed to materialize out of nowhere the moment the sun set at the Bois de Bologne, almost got mugged at Pierre Lachaise and listened to buskers at the Place des Vosges. And that’s not even mentioning gay pride and Live 8. Oh, and there was this three story high Zizou poster on Champs-Élysées because he had just announced his return to the national team. So pretty. As were all the jardins.
Having limited funds, I survived mostly on baguettes and cheese. And lots and lots of coffee. Though there was also the best couscous and the softest lamb I have ever eaten at Chez Omar. And the ridiculous sweet explosion at La Durée. Omg, the macrons. Gosh, I want to go back for so, so many reasons. There was so much I didn’t see and do and eat. Paris isn’t my favourite city in the world but it’s a very, very close second.
* I also think I take much better pictures now and I'd like to go back if only to take pictures of the city of lights.