Monday, August 27, 2012

Grand Theft Tourist...


The loot...
I never meant to steal from my tourists.  But it happened and I’m not proud.  Does this make me the worst tour guide ever?  Probably not, but I feel like I should come clean.

When on a tour, your mind is scattered.  Between finding the perfect spot to tell a historical story, judging the interest value of each child as you babble on about Napoleon, dodging traffic, and minding the time, mental exhaustion sets in quickly.  Things are forgotten, details are ignored, and often pastries are stashed in bags for later consumption.

After a trip to the bakery Gérard Mulot for some organic baguette tradition and a splurge item – chouquettes, little dough balls covered in pearls of sugar – we tasted the bread and talked history.  I tried to remain as focused as possible.

“We’ll save these choquettes for later,” I said, obviously placing sweets after savory.  We still had cheese to taste and it was beginning to rain.  I wanted to get moving before the heavens opened up.

“Sounds great!” the dad told me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Summer Riding, Had Me a Blast...

#Stressless courtesy of @LostNCheeseland

Riding slowly by the Canal St-Martin on a warm, sun-soaked Saturday afternoon is usually a monstrous feat.  Normally, pedestrians crisscross the road and bike paths, unaware of others as they ship their beer and wine bottles to the waterside.  I’m obligated to be bright and alert, waiting to ring my bell of my new (yet-un-stolen) bike at each local who dares step in my path.

But this is August.  The Canal is unusually and, for me, wonderfully empty.  I breeze along on my bike with only a few scattered locals and tourists wandering its banks.  Riding is a blissful experience.  August in Paris is one of the few times where I feel like a kid again in this town.

When I was younger (ah, youth), going for a bike ride with friends or family was the norm.  After school, weekends, evenings (before it got dark – my parents weren’t irresponsible) – it didn’t matter.  Give me two wheels and a road and I was off like a flash.  I’d pass summer evenings discovering new roads all alone or riding with friends who would take me farther and farther from home, always testing how long we could ride without getting tired.  It was as carefree as I could have ever been.

In Paris, bike riding seems so quintessentially, well, Parisian. There’s one thing, however, that the movies and postcards don’t show you.  Riding a bike in Paris is not stressless.  It’s borderline suicidal.