There was a bathroom in the room

The 9:00 a.m. Le Bus Direct to Gare Montparnasse

Paris at night, via our hotel room

Paris at night, via our hotel room

  There is a bathroom in the room at the hotel. There was a wrinkle (I'd reserved a single room instead of a double), but the desk clerk had already corrected that by the time Carol and I arrived. By 11:30 a.m., we were checked in and settled down for a restorative nap. By 2:30 p.m., we were rested and out and about in Paris. We walked our legs off until there was nothing left but two throbbing appendages in need of P.T. And after two days now, we've commented any number of times we've never been happier traveling. In other words, I should stop waiting for the other concrete shoe to drop on my head, and just enjoy the fact that Carol and I are making wonderful travel memories at an alarming rate.

Carol calls Happy Hour!

Carol calls Happy Hour!

   It's been gratifying to watch Carol’s eyes fill with wonder at everything she sees. Though she'd been to Paris twice before, the last time had been about fifteen years ago. Several of the sites we've seen and places we've been are ones completely new to her. She considers me an expert on local knowledge and history. “I don't need a guidebook, I have you,” Carol told me at one point. Now, I'm worried about coming off as that annoying know-it-all in Midnight in Paris. Fortunately, she's asked a couple of questions (“What was there before they built Sacre Coeur?”) that I've been clueless about, and that has helped restore a more comfortable low self-image. Carol has also beautifully compensated for my utter lack of a sense of direction, and is the reason we've already seen more than I thought we could without having walked around in circles first.

   We are already both experiencing a serendipity of good fortune that's reminded us to never forget the magic that is us. Not only did the room I booked come with a private bath, and (so far) no evidence of bed bugs, but our 8th floor window looks out directly to the Eiffel Tower. Each night, we've had a bedroom view of the nightly light show put on by the folks who run the world's biggest erector set.

   Carol has also been the first to call Happy Hour at the end of a long day, and has accepted that white bread in the form of croissants and baguettes are the occupational hazards of travel in France.

Carolyn’s Sacre Coeur, 2012

Carolyn’s Sacre Coeur, 2012

Carol’s Sacre Coeur shot, 2018

Carol’s Sacre Coeur shot, 2018

   In short, I've discovered that traveling with Carol is like traveling with me, except we're seeing things and not getting lost. She's already getting the hang of checking my logistical pronouncements against her map and a Metro agent before proceeding. She's been errorless, as well, in making sure I have indeed noticed something of interest that was staring us in the face, such as the clear view of the Eiffel Tower from atop the steps of Sacre Coeur, as well as the map bolted onto the metro tunnel wall that spared me from the losing battle I was waging in the wind tunnel and the paper map in my hands.

   There's something else, too, since we are in fact two widows visiting a city we once did with our departed spouses. (Check out the two perspectives of Sacre Coeur taken by Carol and Carolyn about two years apart.) We've gratefully shared those former experiences, granting each other a verklempt moment or two, and then moving on to acknowledge that both those beloved spouses would want Carol and I to have the time we're having and will continue to have together.

surprise nana.jpg

   And continue having each other's back, too. Like me knowing when it's time to hold Carol’s hand and share a public kiss. And her reminding me when taking a picture for her grandchildren of her in front of a store named “Nana” to make sure “you have the name Nana in the shot.” I think Carol understands already that anticipating when Reid is going to be Reid is the key to being able to embrace him and all his - how shall I say it - quirks?

   And that on those surprising occasions when he's right, he's earned a reward. Maybe a sugar cube or a carrot?

Someone to watch over me

   Carol tried to tap into my recently acquired travel expertise by asking about currency exchange. “When you use your credit card, do you pay in dollars or euros?” I thought it both an astute and practical question. Unfortunately, I had no clue which method was more sound monetarily. “I choose dollars, but I don't know why,” I replied with an incurious shrug. Carol hasn't realized it yet - or maybe she has - but she is the resident expert on practical matters for this trip.

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“We'll always have Paris”

I first visited Paris in 1971. It was my first city in Europe. I must have been enthralled by all that I saw, because I remember walking the streets from seven in the morning till eleven at night, capping off the evening at a cafe with a glass of vin rouge ordinaire and recording all that I had observed that day in my journal. For example my detailed notes on the Sacre Coeur basilica included this gem of an insight: ”overwhelmed.”

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