“Oh my God, she’s going to ask for directions”, I thought to myself when the forty-something glamorous woman with a suitcase called out to me today. “Oh my God, how do you say I’m a tourist?” I thought to myself, as she beckoned me to stop.
She quickly recognised I was an English language speaker, and explained to me her car wasn’t far away, and asked if I wouldn’t mind standing in the free car space she had found while she went to get her car. “Only two minutes”, she assured me. With nothing else planned, I told her it wasn’t a problem, wondering for just a moment if I was being secretly filmed for French television.
A simple good act of kindness seemes to have returned some good travel karma, since it looks like I have an entire dormitory room to myself tonight at the hostel. I won’t jump to conclusions too quickly, since it’s not yet nine p.m. and there’s the chance of later checkins, but I’m hopeful of having a huge room to myself tonight. And to having the windows open! Yippeee. I’m on the sixth floor with quite good views over Paris, and there’s a lovely gentle breeze.
That wasn’t the case last night, when I shared with a Dutch couple and a Japanese bloke. Surprisingly, they were all early-risers. I woke early myself this morning and then went back to bed for a few more hours. It was one of those grey days you associate with all of those romantic images of Paris.
After the heavy tourist orientation of the last few days in visiting monuments, chapels and castles, I was keen for another day of hanging out in Paris doing some serious people watching today. And I figured The Marais, which is a reasonably fashionable part of Paris was just the spot to do it.
In a Sydney context, it’s kinda like Paddington meets Surry Hills, with lots of cafes, restaurants, fashion shops, people dressed completely in black (and white – eew, I don’t get that) and lots of poofs. So naturally enough, as I looked around while having a baguette for lunch, I thought to myself, “these are my people”.
I spent a couple of hours later in the afternoon in a bar called the Central Hotel. It’s kinda central, hence the name, and has the rainbow flag hoisted loud and proud. I also liked it because the bar staff didn’t seem to mind me making a glass of wine last a few hours without re-ordering,
Upon sitting down I found myself sitting right next two four Australians: a straight couple and a gay couple. They were obviously here for a trade fair or something like that, as they were later joined by a couple of other people.
When the sole French bloke joined their party they told him how beautiful Paris was, and what plans they had for the future. And then they began asking him questions about travelling to various locations around France, which he answered politely. But then I saw a really weird – and totally understandable – look appear on his face when they started to ask him more detailed questions. I actually heard one of the four Australians ask… “What time does the train go to Champagne and from what platform?” WTF?
It’s also the bar where I discovered French men aren’t universally attractive. For every French man who looks like Phillipe Olivier (Kylie Minogue’s boyfriend), there’s at least one hundred who look like Gerard Depardieu. And remarkably, like Latvia, every gorgeous woman seems to be on the arm of an incredibly unattractive man.
So that’s how I spent the day, really, sitting in the cafes of Paris watching the world go by. Can life get any better?