I wanted to stay awake and enjoy the sights of the ride. I really did. Back when I started teaching, I figured out quickly that sometimes the children pushed so many buttons all at once that I had two choices - either go really loud and yell or go really quiet and wait. So I used to go to my happy place: I'd shut my eyes and retreat far enough away mentally that I could wait for them to regulate themselves. They were always pretty quick to quiet down when I did that (I don't think they were used to seeing their teachers stand ((or, on one particularly impatient occasion, lay down on the floor)) perfectly still with their eyes closed), and it solved the problem more quickly and neatly than yelling did. The point of my telling you this is to say that when I would go to my happy place, I would always go to the long car rides we took to Paris back when we lived in Landstuhl. I can easily slip back to the memory of the sound of rain on the glass, the smell of the countryside, the quiet murmur of my parents talking in the front seats, the rough texture of the upholstery and the cool smoothness of the window. I especially loved watching the green, green hills and the small white and brown villages passing by. It's one of my most sensuous memories, and I love it.
So I did want to watch the countryside pass by on this ride (albeit much more quickly than we drove back then), but the past few
We arrived in Strasbourg just before 11:00, walked out of the train station,
"I'm rolling them in delight," I explained.
"I'm taking another picture," he said. "Just look normal this time."
He sighed. "It'll do."
With that and with me licking my Nutella-coated fingers, we set off through the town.
Apparently, I've been to Strasbourg before, but to nine-year-old me, cute German towns all just blended together. I thoroughly enjoyed it this time, though. It's rife with small alleyways and winding streets:
Alas, some of the prettiest food wasn't so practical for us tourists:
The stand we got that meal from was sponsored by this deli:
Thirsty, we went hunting for hot cider but only found stand after stand of hot wine. Finally, we saw a sign advertising hot orange juice with honey. So strange we had to try it!
We discovered a collection of stalls heralded as the Swiss village and were winding our way through them towards the Children's Land, when Jason suddenly cried out, "Raclette!"
Under normal circumstances, I would have assumed he had spotted an obscure French literary reference, but he was instead pointing at this strange sight:
"You haven't had raclette?" he asked, more aghast than he would have been if I hadn't recognized the obscure French literary reference. "We're having raclette," he declared.
I hesitated. I was very full after trying to conquer Mt. Sauerkraut, and a plateful of cheese seemed more than I could handle without more walking first. Jason saw my hesitation and said the magic words he knew would make me give in: "It's served with cornichons...."
I looked at the stand and, yes, there was a giant tub of cornichons. There were also tall blond Swiss men serving up those cornichons. "Okay, raclette!" I said.
|(there is a serious issue with the potato-to-cornichon ratio on this plate!)|
|(Look! That house is skinnier than the European car in front of it!)|
There was a variety of street musicians, too, as well as steadily-growing crowds:
We turned back towards town and went to check out the cathedral. The cathedral really is stunning – you see glimpses of it as you walk through town, but when you walk into the square in front of I suddenly BAM! There is it, and it’s overpowering, forcing you to look heavenward with it’s gothic pointiness.
|Children entranced by the forbidden candles|
And a very cool clock:
Our blood sugar dipping dangerously close to normal levels, we went back outside to fight the crowds and find food. We found flam:
|(also made by tall blond Swiss men)|
|We happened upon the tree the moment it was being lit. We're good like that.|
We escaped the crowds to wind our way back to the train station where we had to wait a while on the platform for our delayed train back to Paris. I was glad when it finally arrived, by dismayed to find that our seats were facing backwards. Despite my motion sickness watch, riding on a swaying train backwards is just not a good thing for me. Jason tried to distract me for a time by translating the essay on feminism from his newly-purchased script of L'ecole des femmes, but even the promise of learning how to turn myself from an object to a subject was not enough to keep the nausea and dizziness at bay. I turned to the only defense I had left – sleep – and dozed fitfully the rest of the way home. A few moments to recover on the platform, a metro ride filled with drunk young adults (shouting "How DARE you? I'm not drunk! I'm not f****** drunk!" is a dead giveaway that yes, in fact, you are drunk), and a short walk later we were back in our hotel. We cranked up the opera music and sadly packed our suitcases to depart Paris in the morning.
And, as you saw, we made it home with little adventure and slight discomforts. I will add that the Airbus is pretty awesome. Not only does it have a nifty entertainment center in front of each seat:
And there you have it – our trip to Paris. May it be one of many.