Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Paris notes

OK, let’s be honest here : I planned to write in Paris, hell: I even bought notebooks and a nice pen…But it just didn’t work. I missed my laptop. So instead I kept on writing, piece after piece, in my head. I hope enough is still in there, so I can neatly type it out now that I’ve come home.
Sorry if this is going to get a rather long (very long) posting, but please indulge me: I haven’t written a single word in four days!

I arrived in Paris Thursday around noon. My hotel room wasn’t ready yet…so it really wasn’t my fault if I found myself in the Galleries Lafayette barely one hour after my arrival. I suffered an attack of temporary amnesia concerning my bank account, and I bought some nice Camper shoes, and some clothes. All right, and a matching necklace as well. After two hours of shopping-madness, I started feeling dizzy and sweaty : was I on a shopping-high? Was it the realisation that I had just maxed-out my credit card? Or was I just getting tired?
I decided enough was enough, and I took the metro back to the hotel. Where…my room wasn’t only “not ready yet”, but also “sorry, not available”. I forgot to tell you that this was actually the very first time that I was going to spend some nights alone in a hotel room (really!), so I had decided to spoil myself and had booked a “chambre superieure”. Which now seemed to be out of my reach, because some guy refused to leave the room, and had decided to stay a few nights longer. I tried to keep my cool, and was offered a tiny room for a lesser price for one night – and the promise to be in a “chambre de luxe” the very next morning.
So there I was, alone in Paris, in a crappy room, with by now a pounding headache, swollen glands, and a sore throat. Forget shopping-high: these were the same French viruses that attacked me non-stop last year. I went to the Monoprix on the Champs Elysées to buy some food, and I got back to my room – where I sat eating breakfast cereals and chocolate cookies on my bed, watching some French talk show. For a moment I was convinced that this whole “coming to Paris on my own-thing” had been a very bad idea.

I woke up, packed my bags (as I was going to change rooms), and went to the first pharmacy I saw. Loaded with medicine, going from sea-water to clean my nose to good old paracetamol, I went for breakfast in a place full of memories. It’s this tiny coffee bar on Avenue Wagram. Across the street is the building where P had an apartment for a few months while he was working in Paris, 4 years ago. I’ll keep it short : for me, this is “home” in Paris.
The medicine and the pain au chocolat did what they were supposed to do, and I felt strong enough to continue with the planning of the day : go to the W.H. Smith bookstore. After buying some books and magazines, it was once again time to go back to the hotel, and give in to the viruses. I was looking forward to dive into the queen-size bed of my chambre de luxe, with the brand new American Cosmopolitan, and have a nice afternoon nap…
Yes, you’ve guessed it (or not) : my new room was not ready / available yet. My old room was no longer available. So back out I went, and did the next pathetic thing to eating breakfast cereals in your room for dinner: I went to Mac Donalds for a hamburger and some fries.
In the end, I got my deluxe- room, with huge windows, a balcony with view on the Arc de Triomphe, and bingo : a water cooker to make me some nice hot tea! I decided to do the sensible thing: skip the INSEAD party that night, and go to bed early.

Sleeping and the bag full of medicine worked: I felt better! Looking back on the two previous days, I realized that in fact I did have a good time, in spite of being a bit ill, and minus my little down-moment on Thursday evening.
None the less : I was a very happy girl when P arrived. We went out for breakfast (yes, of course: again on Avenue Wagram), and had a beautiful walk through a sunny Paris. This was our much needed alone-time, before diving back into “the Bubble”, and we enjoyed every minute of it.
We met the INSEAD-crowd around 2.00PM for the Andy Warhol exhibition. Seeing everybody again felt kind of strange (in a funny way): what do you say to people you haven’t spoken to in months, but still you know almost everything that’s going on in their lives through blogs, Facebook, and good old INSEAD-gossip?
The rest of the afternoon was spent in typical INSEAD-randomness: going for petanque in a hailstorm, catching the first bus that comes along without really knowing where it goes, and ending up eating crêpes and drinking cider.
More eating and drinking in the evening: the Paris people had made some really good arrangements by booking half of a restaurant, and by negotiating a fixed entrance&drinks fee in a nice club. Very soon some Mika-song was blasting through the speakers, the dance floor (and stage) were taken over by familiar faces, and the alcohol flowed freely in all directions.
At 3 AM winter time - 4 AM summer time, we were the first ones to leave the ongoing party (which lasted until 6 AM winter time – 7 AM summer time, and where some notorious individual set his girl of the evening on fire. Literally, that is, by kissing her too close to a candle and burning like 10 cm of her hair...

But we managed to go for a nice walk, and we made it to the “afternoon-brunch” (yes, more food). Before we knew it, it was time for goodbyes again. (However, if promises are kept, the next reunion will be in London, somewhere in June!)
It was also time for goodbye for P and me: I jumped on the train to Brussels, P on the plane to Ireland. This long-distance madness will still be going on for the next two months, and right now that seems like an eternity. Ah, what can I say? I love him, I miss him, I want to be with him! (sorry if this is getting too corny for my regular readers, but I just spent 4 days in the City of Love, so I feel it’s totally allowed…)
Right now, I feel that, besides the romantic vibes, I also brought home the French viruses. So I guess it’s time for some sea-water and paracetamol again. And then I’m off to my very own “chambre de luxe”, which I know for sure will be available.
Nigh-night everyone, and thanks for an awesome weekend!

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