It’s April in Sydney, and Autumn is upon us. The trees outside my window bend and bow in the terror of the great north wind, as he bellows and shakes them to and fro. There are heavy clouds as far as the eye can see, their pregnant bellies bursting with a haze of downpour, shrouding the world outside with a vaporous fog. Shadows grow across the land. Dusk falls quicker these days.
My mind wanders to an identical scene, on the other side of the world, exactly a year ago today. It was springtime in Paris, and everything was wet. We were treated to highs of 12 degrees by day, and close to freezing by night. My toes were wrinkled and damp inside my three layers of sock and boots. My nose wept constantly, even when wrapped night-rider style under a scarf. My jeans were sticky and cold against my bum and legs from sitting on the rain-drenched seat of our scooter. It was wet, wet, wet… a typical Parisian Spring.
“What do you do when you’re caught in the middle of a springtime downpour”, you ask? These are my top tips to surviving Paris in the Rain.
Well, we’re back home in Sydney after another whirlwind trip. And yet again, I find myself lost in the post holiday blues.
But I’ve just realised that it’s not the holiday itself I miss the most, more the freedom that comes with it. There was no need to worry about work, or bills, or ordinary everyday things. Soaring through the clouds, becoming nostalgic about our last destination, anticipating our next, there was only the holiday, and us. Nothing else existed.
Now, as I sit here after a solid night’s sleep, with suitcases still heavy with unwashed clothes and trinkets from abroad (if I unpack, the holiday is unarguably over), the only thing that is going to cheer me up is to reflect on the adventures we’ve had. Just one more day of holiday bliss before returning to the mundane chores of reality.
I’ll recap and review in detail over the next few weeks, but for now, some highlights: Continue reading
Before we arrived in Europe, I spent hours reading up on the best shopping in Paris. I scoured the internet and my favourite reference books, and wrote down the addresses of a dozen bookshops, stationary shops, and of course, shoe shops. Inevitably, we didn’t get to them all. But here are my top 4 in the 4th; a few of my favourites that were mere minutes (via scooter) from our apartment in the Marais.
Boutique shops selling everything from designer olive oil to designer ballet shoes are hidden in the maze of 4th Arrondisement backstreets.
As a little girl, I was fortunate enough to be taken to the theater each time an Andrew Lloyd Webber production rolled into town. My favourite by far was The Phantom of the Opera, based on the gothic novel by Gaston Leroux. (Yes, even as a child, I couldn’t resist the mystery and romance of the genre!)
For those who weren’t as privileged, it is a macabre and tragic love story between the masked Phantom, a disturbed and disfigured man (thus the mask) who lives in the cavernous crypt beneath Paris’ Opera, and the young Christine, an up-and-coming singer. Here’s a snippet of the two from the recent, self-titled movie starring Gerard Butler as yours truly:
Complete with gothic candles, organ music, and dark, winding, castle-like corridors, you can see why I was a little obsessed. I’ve now seen the show in theaters around the world, and learned to play the score end-to-end on the piano.
So of course, when I discovered that Paris’ Palais Garnier was the very opera house that inspired the story, I had to visit the iconic building.
Winding up the streets of Montmartre on the back of our red vespa, I picture Amelie doing the same, with her arms wrapped around Nino and a grin on her face.
Amelie and Nino on their scooter
The cobblestones purr beneath us; a deep, slow rumble, a sound I will never forget.