I also wanted to seize this opportunity to share some incredibly exciting news...
* I'M GOING TO PARIS FOR MY 30TH BIRTHDAY! *
My friend Elizabeth and I purchased a flight and hotel package on Black Friday. We're departing on April 9, 2014 and after a single layover, we will be arriving on the 10th. We get to spend 6 days, 6 nights in the city, including my actual birthday on April 15th! Time to savor it, just like a Parisian! We both leave and arrive back at home on the 16th. We're staying an old world-style hotel in the 1st arrondissement. In case you didn't know, twenty numbered neighborhoods spiral out from the central 1st. That means we will be staying in the middle of Paris, blocks from the Louvre! I couldn't believe that we could afford it, but it was only $50/per person over the week more expensive than my previous favorite choice located in the 6th. Why not? We are incredibly excited!
I want to figure out an itinerary. I love planning, anticipating, a trip. For research, I love guidebooks from Rick Steves, so my 2014 Paris guide arrived on Saturday and I've already read half of it. What I really want to do is take in the beauty of Paris.
Wander the streets and shops. People-watch from a outdoor cafe table while savoring a coffee and pain au chocolat. Visit the Louvre. Picnic with a baguette and other goodies. See the Eiffel Tower. Take pictures.
Since I decided to have this Paris vacation in April for my birthday and limit the number of days of travel due to budget, I really want to compromise and have my travel buddy decide what we will do. As long as I'm in Paris, I'm happy. Like I said, appreciating the beauty of the City of Light is my priority, and I feel like I can do that from the most leisurely to the most exhausting trip. I'm up for absolutely anything. She says that she wants to see it all. I'm a brilliant planner, so I will devise an action-packed plan and see if she approves. I like to plan out the perfect trip, but once I arrive, use it as a Plan B, falling back on it when we're at a loss of what to do next and easily referencing what we can do when.
I predict that Elizabeth and I will travel very well together since we're each other's go-to day-trip partner. This is the friend I typically go and see the cherry blossoms with because they tend to bloom between her mid-February and my mid-April birthday. We're both coffee-drinkers. In fact, heading to DC, we traditionally stop at Au Bon Pain for breakfast. We both tend to utterly exhaust ourselves on a big vacation. We both have an interest in history, so each one of us will get as much out of a trip to Versailles as the other. This is her first trip to Europe and I am excited for her as well. My first trip to Italy and taste of Europe remains my favorite.
Language is simply not my friend's strength and since I believe learning and attempting the local language is part of the fun, we agreed that I will learn some French. I plan to focus on pronunciation since words are not spoken as they are written.
I have been to Italy four times and there's certainly a comfort there. I haven't traveled to Paris and it will be a learning experience. It's a new city and a different culture. It's nice that I have read so much France travel narrative and French-inspired lifestyle books and blogs. I sent Elizabeth home with a couple plucked from my own bookshelf. I am always looking for more if you have any recommendations for resources ...or activities/places themselves! Grazie ...or should I say merci!