Paris 2019

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We’re in Paris.  The clouds threaten rain and the unions a General Strike: c’est le vie!  I love Paris.  It sings.  It dances.  It laughs.  And it has an unconscious cool that I always hope is contagious.  Plus, it’s Fashion Week – the World Cup of Who’s Wearing What.  No, we’re not going to be sitting in the cheap seats, looking for celebs; we have other things to do.  Things like the cemetery at Montparnasse to lay a pen on Baudelaire’s grave (we promised) the Luxemburg Gardens for the puppet show, and a glass of wine and a few tears across the river from Notre Dame.  But mostly, we’re just going to hang out – try and catch the rhythm of a Parisian lunch, stroll the boulevards and maybe have one too many glasses of wine in some café somewhere.

But I said all this to say this space may suffer.  Between the time change, the Wi-Fi, the food, the wine and the unavoidable fact that I’m no travel writer, the next few weeks at WDFYFE.NET are going to be hit-and- miss, so please have patience.  Anyway, I’ll try my best to … Just a sec! … “Bonjour, deux verres de vin rouge, s’il vous plait.” … See what I mean?  In Paris, life intervenes.  C’est le vie!

Stuff I Learned From Travelling

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Summer’s finally/ almost/ nearly/ just about/ over, and it’s time to travel again.  That’s one thing I’ve learned during my years on this planet: never travel in the summer.  Actually, I’ve learned a lot of things travelling, and, cuz I’m a good guy, I’m going to pass some of them along.

The people at airport security have had their sense of humour surgically removed.

When someone with an accent says “No problem!” there already is one.

If you travel far enough, often enough, you will eventually run into a restaurant that serves mystery meat.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “For the love of Jesus, people! Venice is full.  One more busload of tourists and they’re going to change the name to Atlantis.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “Heathrow Airport was designed by Rhesus monkeys.”

Think about it.  If you can survive a month in Europe living out of one suitcase, what the hell are you doing with all that crap cluttering up your closet?

Advertised discount airline prices are like unicorns: everybody’s heard of them, but they don’t actually exist.

If you do it right, culture shock happens both ways.

The natural habitat of the traveller is sitting behind an adult beverage.  The natural habitat of the tourist is standing in line.

Nobody “wins” a vacation.  Slow down!

Nothing – NOTHING – looks like the website.

Unless you’re a professional photographer, nobody back home is going to give a damn about all the cool pictures you took.

Packing for any trip involves two things, 1) you’re going to forget something essential and 2) you’re going to bring something totally useless.  Oh, well!

Never get too attached to your luggage.

Speaking louder does not instantly make strangers bilingual.

Unless you’re trekking the Sahara, it’s going to rain.  Get used to it!

If you travel from North America to anywhere else in the world (including the Antarctic) you’re going to be held responsible for Donald Trump.  Get used to it!

And finally:

It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do — you’re going to need more money.

Happy Trails!

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PS – To all my faithful readers: I’m planning to publish a collection of some of my blogs, and I need a few good people to write wonderful things about me for the back cover.  Any volunteers?

Email me at wdfyfe@shaw.ca

Thanks!

The Bells Of Notre Dame

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Several years ago, we rented an apartment on Rue du Petit Pont in Paris.  And for a lifetime of springtime, we walked, talked, laughed, cried and slept within the sound of the bells of Notre Dame.  They woke us up in the morning and put us to bed at night.  In the afternoons, we heard them with “une verre de vin rouge, s’il vous plait.”  And in the evenings, they rang as the great cathedral itself emerged from the gathering night, heavy with light.  And it was always there, from the sidewalks of the Seine, that we saw the people – people drawn to the light – drawn to the cathedral – drawn to the beating heart of Paris.  People from around the world and across the street.  We saw mimes and jugglers and fire eaters who blew plumes of flame into the sky.  Once, we saw a woman cross the bridge on rollerblades, weaving through traffic with one hand on her telephone and the other holding a cigarette – Gauloises, I suspect.  Once, we saw a line of pilgrims alive with faith and purpose and each one alone in exaltation.  We saw children with balloons and teenage lovers and workers eating their lunch.  On one particular afternoon, we saw a troupe of Esmeraldas, dancing through the tourist crowd, their brothers and boyfriends lurking with pickpocket intent.  We met a man from Italy who thought we were German. A man from Normandy who liked Kay’s hat.  And an elegant woman who became a character in one of my stories.  All in the shadow of Notre Dame.

Today, the heart of Paris is burning, and I whisper a prayer because once, in an infinite springtime, I sat in the warm evening and watched the world light up with the sound of the bells of Notre Dame.