March 9, 2010
Rue Cler 75007 Paris, France
My second visit to Paris was better than my first. You want to know why? My second visit included my future husband, though we were keeping that a secret at the time. But the secret ingredient to this trip being better was his presence. He adds color to everything.
It was his first visit to Paris which made me the instant "expert". I immediately felt smarter than the last time. Also though my high school French wasn't any more polished, my vocabulary was still better than his which added to my good feelings. Five years before, on my first visit, I was too intimidated to walk into a cafe alone. This trip, he walked into all sorts of shops and cafes without a second thought. I loved it and happily followed.
Eiffel Tower Photo by Eustaquio
Last time, I stayed with acquaintances of my father which were at best, awkward. This time we booked a room at a small hotel on the Rue Cler, near the Eiffel Tower. This street is famous, made more so by Rick Steves and his guidebooks. The central location is perfect for walking and sightseeing. Rue Cler is a pedestrian street filled with shops, an open market and various stalls selling all sorts of items.
The hotel room we discovered we had booked was a let down. This is before the Internet, so the booking had been done over a fax machine and long distance phone calls from my office. We had no photos only descriptions and only our fingers crossed that any of it was accurate. When we arrived that evening, after an exciting day taking the Eurostar from London for the first time, our room was a big fat disappointment.
What could be so bad? It wasn't the thin flat pillows on our beds. Nor was it the sad little apple and black coffee set out as the "continental breakfast" for the next morning. The shock of having an internal air shaft as our "window" was the first blow. Having two, almost on the floor, twin beds that showed their back pain inducing coils through the bedsheets was the second blow. The knock out punch and third strike, was that the room next door had the same space but a killer view of the Rue Cler and though it was empty, the management would not switch us.
However, instead of sucking it up like I would have last time, being there together pushed me to find another place. STAT. I didn't let my poor language skills get in the way. Instead we took it to the streets and literally just walked around until we soon struck gold. Gold!
We discovered around the corner a small hotel that was across the way from some construction work. This is France, we knew that if they worked during the day out there, we would never be in our room to hear it, we would be out having a cafe au lait and a baguette. We also figured the workers would not start at the crack of dawn like in San Francisco.
After walking in and asking about rooms, we were taken to a small room for the same price of our current hotel room but with an unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower!! Similar to the photo. Every night of our stay, we saw the lights go on the Eiffel Tower. It was magical and straight out of the Woody Allen movie, Everyone Says I Love You.
My second visit to the City of Lights was so much more colorful thanks to being there with someone who expected more. It was so much more fun to not settle for less, especially when you are visiting somewhere special like Paris. This trip taught me to problem solve my way out of a situation even when I wasn't remotely fluent in the local language. We save our money to explore new places and see new sights, I learned then to appreciate that effort and not to settle for anything less than a memorable experience.
Editorial note: For my third visit, I will appreciate the "interweb" and likely check out one of these hotels...