Thursday, January 28, 2010

A birthday and a jet plane

I celebrated my 51st birthday in Paris with a trip to the Eiffel Tower. This is me in my sweet new red coat that I got at the "soldes" (sales) for 70% off. The scarf is from my stay in Berlin.
I timed my visit to go up at dusk, so that I could see the sunset, and the city of lights at night! I was rewarded with quite a spectacular sunset, that my camera skills can't really do justice to.
Twice while I was up there, the bright lights began popping. This happens for 10 minutes every hour. It's spectacular from the ground, but really quite amazing when you are standing among them.
It was CCCOOOOLLLLLDDDD up there, so much so that by the time I saw they had gloves and hats in the souvenier shop, I didn't care what they cost or what they looked like. Fortunately, they were pretty reasonable, in both cost and appearance.
I finally warmed up with a glass of champagne in one of the chi chi restaurants up the tower. My birthday splurge including a bowl of pumpkin soup. The soup arrived as an almost empty bowl with some veggies (pumpkin and ?') in the bottom, a huge dollop of thick cream, and a teensy Romain lettuce leaf in it... the soup was then poured around it. Unusual and very tasty. Good thing, as these 2 precious bits cost me 27E!
I began celebrating my birthday the day before with my friend Bill who lives in Boston, but has a flat in Paris, and just happened to be here at the same time as me. He took me out to lunch in a very French wine bar, then for a long walk in the city topped off with tarts and macaroons (my treat) and champagne (his treat - and very good!)
One of the stops on our walk was the Jardin de Palais Royale where Bill's favourite piece of public art has just been restored at a cost of 6 million Euros. I confess the piece of paper that Bill wrote the artists name down for me is packed (more on that in a minute), so I'll leave it at this for now: it's made up of tons of black and white striped columns and is very cool. This is Bill leaning on one of the columns.
This is me, of course, sitting on a column and swinging my legs. Made me feel like a kid (heh, my last day at age 50!), as I'm so tall my feet almost always touch the ground. There was swinging room!
Here are our feet, looking down to the water part of the piece down below the grill...
This is what the whole thing looks like in a wide shot. As I say, very cool.
Now back to the Eiffel Tower for a moment.... this is what it looks like when the bright lights start popping while you are up the tower....
OK, now to the bit about the jet plane... I am flying home to Canada tomorrow. Not a recent decision, but haven't said much about it until now. For the curious, here is how I decided to come home at this time... The below began as a journal entry this morning, then evolved into a story I could share.
Happy reading... and for those of you I know in Vancouver, will see you soon, I am sure....
I lie here in bed in Paris, the morning of my last full day here. In Paris. And in Europe. And I am a little surprised to feel sad. Sad, I suppose, because this has been such an awesome experience, but all things must come to an end. Well, sort of. This trip is coming to an end, but not my life ad a traveller.

I made the decision to come home two months ago, then slept on it for a month before altering my plans. But it felt right and it still feels right. Just wasn't expecting the sadness, it snuck up on me. But it's ok. I expect I will feel a range of emotions over the next few days and weeks. And months.

Speaking if months, I have been gone seven. Coincidentally, to the day. At least on this continent. I arrived on July 29 last year, and will list off tomorrow - homeward bound - on January 29.

So, why am I coming home so soon? Each time I have been asked that question, I burst out laughing. Seven months is a looooooonnng time!!! :-) heh.

I only attract this question from people at home who hear I am coming home, as when I left I said I was going for a year.

Why did I say a year? I don't know, but I learned quickly that "I'm taking off for Europe!" would evoke "For how long?". Even if by fluke, or by design, I managed to just talk about the trip and not give a firm response, I would invariably get "How long will you stay?". So I said a year.
I said a year, but truth be told, I really didn't know. My focus was on going. Going, going, going! I am going to Europe! Whoopieee! Heh. So it was an answer that left me a lot of time to figure out what I really wanted to do.

So.... The idea to return when I am came from a period in Rhodes, Greece in November (my 1st trip to the island), when I was unwinding in the sun, not caring if I ever saw another museum (a clear symptom of museum burn-out, also referred to as one being "museum 'd out), and thought back over my trip....

I had had SUCH amazing experiences by that point (only about 1/3 made it onto this blog). I cherished each one.

As I rolled each mmemory over in my head, I had this satisfying sense of richness and satisfaction. My cup was full. My cup runneth over. I was full, and I needed time to digest.
I found myself trying to write a list of my top 10 experiences - not as easy as it sounds, when you have so many. And it struck me as the kind of thing one might do to mark closure. Ah, oh, so.... maybe it's time to head home?

As I said, I didn't rush my return, as that was two months ago. But I realized I was ready. There were other factors as well.

One was the Olympics. The only thing that had dissapointed me about the timing of my trip was it appeared that I would miss them :-(.... unlike those who can't wait to get out of town, I crave to be there, in the buzz of the excitement, enjoying all the free stuff. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I didn't want to miss.

Plus.... I felt like I'd had enough idleness, enough aimlessness, I needed something for my mind to wrap itself around again. Plus.... I want to see my sweet mom, who let me go with such grace, but for whom I know in-person visits would be such a joy (I am giving her my presence as her birthday present next month :-).... Plus, there was one more reason.... let me think.... Oh yeah. I'm broke !!!! Or, better said, I'm B.R.O.K.E. Heh. So earning some money again would be useful. Now there's an understatement! :-)

So.... it's just time to return to the "real world".

I have no doubt that I will travel again. This will be a time to reflect on this trip, and to begin planning the next one.

So there you go. I began to write this as a journal entry (on my iTouch in bed), but then realized it could become the blog entry I wasted to make today. I wanted my "I'm heading home" post to tell the story, so I won't have to tell it over and over again..... If someone asks I can point them to the answer.

Now, time to get up, get some coffee, and plan my lady day in this fair city and this fair country. And continent.
btw, the sadness lasted as long as it took for me to write that. I'm cool, though still a bit surprised that the day has come....


Roberta said...

Ok, numbers were never my strength, but I do know have been gone 7 months! I actually touched down in Europe on June 29. Will fix my post later... But my laptop is off and it's staying that way til I get home.... Geez, I love my iTouch!

Anonymous said...

I can hardly wait to have you over and hear many more of your adventures.
Is there a book in the making LOL
Cheers and welcome Home!

Angela K. Nickerson said...

Happy birthday! Or should I say, Bonne Anniversaire! What a way to celebrate! :)

Mabel @ Barcelona said...

Good trip and great meeting you! I wish you a good stay in Canada and... hasta la proxima!

Big kiss from Barcelona,

Mabel, Mickey and Julius

Bruce said...

Hello TA,
First of all, Happy Birthday! Too bad it didn't coincide with the week at PI, not that we needed yet another excuse to drink. I feel much the same way about our travels: after a while, you get a bit jaded, especially with museums. Perhaps the ideal length for travel is somewhat shorter than 7 months. I'm looking forward to getting home, but I also find it sad to think that our trip is more than half way over.

I'll keep checking your blog out. Good luck returning to the 'real world'!

Claudia said...

Enjoyed reading your wrap-up of your odyssey. I can relate to your feelings when you were preparing to go home. The coat is the most beautiful of reds

Alexandra said...

Welcome home Roberta! I applaud your decision to do what's right for you at this time. And I applaud your red coat!! Gorgeous!! And you look a vision in it. ;-)

Can't wait to meet you for tea once you're settled in and hear even more about your adventure. I agree with Glenn - there must be a book gestating within.

Love a.

Anonymous said...

Viva la France!
Bonne Fete!
What a beautiful day you had
xox B'day Wishes
~ Midi