the rest is still unwritten

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

An UnBEETable Adventure 8: Paris

"Mesdames et messieurs, nous sommes arrivés à Paris. Bienvenue!"

October 10.

The drowsiness that came with the in-flight nap was quickly washed away by the realization that we have just landed in the city of lights: Ah! Pa-ree!

Bienvenue en France!

Our minds raced with all the adventures Paris had in store for us. Beets was quick to excite us even further as she told us of all the things we were to do. And naturally, our tummies grumbled at all the delicious food we were about to devour.

Suddenly, our racing hearts stopped. Before we embark on this Parisian adventure, we were to say goodbye to the final three of our merry band: Triplet, Q and X. They were with us on the flight to Paris, but only as transit passengers. X and Q were flying back to Halifax, and Triplet was flying back to Toronto.

After hugs and goodbyes, we watched as the three brothers walked towards their gates and we; Beets, Twin and I; soon after headed towards the luggage carouselthe first few steps of our Parisian adventure...

Ah, Paris, je t'aime...

Truly.

The second we crossed the terminal into the baggage area we knew we were in Paris. We felt it in our bones.

The sunny dresses that were so common over the past few days in the south of Spain have been replaced by autumnal coats and shawls and scarves. All around us, people of all races and different manners of dress huffed and zoomed and spoke together in such rapid French that my eyes and ears could barely keep up.

We. Were. In. PARIS.

After collecting our suitcases we head out front to hire a taxi for the hour-and-a-half drive from the Charles De Gaulle Airport to our hotel. Soon, we and our luggage were packed snugly into a cab and Beets excitedly gives the Vietnamese driver directions and we were off!

Despite the ridiculous lack of sleep, the three of us were wide awake, alert and quivering with excitement.

As you can probably tell from the past seven posts, this trip has already lived up to its 'unbeetable' claim. But what you didn't know is that from the second we were all reunited in Nerja, not a single day would pass when one of us would randomly squeal "Paris!!!" Yes. After the wedding, this was what we were looking forward to the most. The idea of the Beets in Paris, which weeks before was merely something we wished to do someday, was really truly about to happen. Imagine: the Beets (sadly sans T3) would be cavorting merrily (Meryll-y) through Beets' old stomping grounds.

Of course we were excited!

Not a second of silence passed during that cab ride. There was never a need for a tour guide. In no time, under Beets' tutelage, the Twins were well aware of the twenty Parisian arrondisements (municipalities) and how they were arranged, where the Eiffel Tower is, the Napoleonic influence on architecture and design ("That's why there's an 'N' on everything!"), the best place for crêpes, and the typical Parisian attire.

"I bought my furniture there!"
"Beets, there's this little stall where they make the BEST crêpes!"
"I used to jog there!"
"That's where my bike was stolen!"
"I used to have a fringe!"

Much to the Twins' delight, each of Beets' sentences would end in:

"We'll go there!"


*********


As we get off the highway, I couldn't help but be a cliché tourist and take pictures of the buildings. I saw myself through the eyes of a local: another Asian tourist clicking away at the gorgeous everyday buildings from inside of a taxi. I couldn't care less. I was in PARIS!

Absolutely grogeous!

I've done my share of traveling and it's easy to fall in love with a city with an undeniable identity. There is an overwhelmingly attractive paradoxical charm and grandeur to European cities. Looking around the City of Lights, it was undeniable, unmistakable, that Paris has a certain je ne sais quoi (hehe). You knew you were in Paris, you couldn't think you were anywhere else. I mean, I can't imagine anyone saying: "Oh, Paris reminds me of..." Paris is unmistakably Paris.

*********

We finally pull up to a building off of the Avenue de La Motte-Picquet. We have arrived at Le Walt hotel.

Le Walt hotel had the perfect mix of charm, quaintness, refinement and sophistication. We were welcomed by the receptionist, a tall and handsome Black woman, and soon she and Beets were sorting out the accommodations in the most musical French. This gave Twin and I time to explore the rest of the intimate little lobby. We happen upon this:
Le Bar!!!

Twin immediately exclaims: "Beets! It's a sign, there are three stools!!!" One for Beets. One for Twin. One for me.

Sadly, during this trip, the bar remained 'unBeeten'.

We head upstairs to deposit our suitcases (our porter happened to be Filipino!) and to check out our room. I loved the room! It was the perfect size for us adventure-seeking Beets. I think Le Walt was designed/furnished for those adventurers who need a space to keep their belongings safe, a space to come back to for sleep, but who also want that space to be elegant, bright and warm. The sleeping area itself may not have been large (which was fine by us, since we were going to be spending most of our time out anyway) but it was still pretty well-endowed (i.e. it had a pretty sizable bathroom). Oh! In case you were wondering what the view outside the bedroom window was, well, here it is:
Yep, that's the Eiffel Tower. No biggie.
Yeah, that's my pillow. The first thing I saw upon waking up each day in Paris was the Eiffel Tower.


*********

After some quick freshening up and settling in of the suitcases, we were ready to go exploring!
L'Avenue de La Motte-Picquet.

Well, almost ready... Twin and Beets had to make a quick stop at the pharmacy and then we were really ready to go exploring!

Beets takes us down Rue Cler (Theme song is Portobello Road from Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks).

The streets were lined with shops and stalls of all kinds. A man with a ladder on his shoulder walks nearby. Buyers abound examining fruits and vegetables, books and bottles, honey and eggs. Beets tells us that she was a consistent customer of Rue Cler during her student days.

"Here they sell everything honey," points Beets, "And in this bookshop, the owner puts a note on the front page of every book! She's read every single one of the books she sells and can even help suggest a book you might be in the mood for."

How absolutely intimate and quaint!

But I think the line that was music to my and Twin's ears was:

"And this is where they make the best crêpes!"

We walk up to the stand and immediately, the smell of lightly toasting dough, melting cheese, and ham and other delicious goodnesses wafted into our faces. You know how cartoon characters float through the air with their legs bent at the knees, smiles on their faces as they follow a delicious aroma? Well, that's how the three of us were.

The cozy little establishment is run by Stefan and his wife, who both immigrated from Greece many years ago.
Bonjour Stefan!

As we waited for our orders (Twin and I each had a ham, egg and cheese, while Beets had the tuna and mushroom), we were able to chat with the elderly couple. Beets told them that she had eaten at their café many times before, Stefan responds by saying that they do remember her. Stefan was such a funny and charming man!

Here he is in action:

video


Finally, our crêpes were ready! It's a good thing too, since we have been staring so intently at Stefan as he prepared our snacks that it had almost become awkward.

Nom Nom Nom Nom. In French it's: Nom Nom Nom Nom.

As we ate, Stefan came by and took our orders for drinks, which he said were on the house! Also, we were introduced to their strapping young son *wink wink*. We originally codenamed him Gaston, but it changed to Azul (which was a bit obvious because he was wearing a blue shirt), and finally decided on Bughaw. We walk inside to pay for our snacks and we notice their impressive collection of wines. Immediately, Beets tells Stefan about her favorite Greek wine, unfortunately, they didn't carry it any more...

After thanking our gracious hosts, we continue on.



Our next stop was one of Beets' most visited places: the AUP study center.
It's behind that chapel!

Beets tells us that like most urban universities, AUP has various building throughout the city, but this particular building was quieter and more conducive to work. We were unable to enter since none of us had a valid AUP ID which was required. However, Beets pointed to a room high above and said that that was her room. I could only imagine the view! The room had picture windows, and was about five floors up. Gosh, just imagine...


*********

In the short walk from Le Walt to the crêpes stand to the AUP building, I had already seen so many cool things. Here's some of them:

Some Cool Posters



VESPAS!



Cool Building Details


Now, the French (Parisians in particular) have a reputation for being snobbish and betchy, but during this trip I found that that isn't necessarily the case.

While I was taking pictures of this door, a woman walking by said cheerfully: "Cette porte est très jolie!"

And Stefan was really nice. And the guy who owned the red Vespa was really nice too.


Super Cool Building at the AUP Grounds


Upon seeing this building, I suddenly wished the following things were true:
1. I was a mad scientist.
2. This was my lab.
3. I had fifty cats.
4. There was a lightning storm.
5. I was laughing maniacally because of something diabolical.

*********

After checking out Beets' AUP haunts, we decide to walk to the Métro to get across the city.

On the way, we stop by a little patisserie.


Aside from these kiddies above, there were three bigger children loose at that sweet shop: Beets, Twin and I.

"Oooh!"
"That looks so good!"
"I want a dozen of those!"

Finally, we settle on a good assortment, pay for our treats and head back on outside.

As if the city's historical architects could predict future tourists' disbelief of actually being in such a beautiful city, they made it possible that the Eiffel Tower would be visible at the end of every cross street.


Finally, we reach the Métro. We initially attempt to purchase a set of ten tickets each, but have some trouble with the machines. We walk over to the window to ask the attendant, who was a bit cranky and not much help, leaving us as confused as when we started. Thank goodness for good ole' persistence because in time, we were able to purchase our tickets and went underground.


We reach our stop at the Place de La Concorde and alighted from the train.

Monuments galore!

The Place de La Concorde is a gorgeous marriage of European and Egyptian design and architecture. Here you will find one of Cleopatra's Needles, the Obelisk of Luxor; the gorgeous Fontaine des Mers; and in the distance, the Eiffel Tower's spire rising visibly above the trees.

Monumental trifecta.

It was totally cool. The Beets love anything to do with design, art, history, ancient civilizations and mythology. Twin was especially nostalgicher soul was made on the African plains.

"Cleopatra was totally a Beets!"

During this trip, we completely mastered the skill of asking random people to take our pictures. This one was taken by a Spanish girl.


After exploring the Place de La Concorde, we head towards Paris' shopping Mecca, the Rue Faubourg de Saint-Honoré.

As were leaving the Place de La Concorde, Beets points out something on one of the buildings nearby.


Notice how the structure jutting out is a different color from the rest of the building? Beets explains that when construction is done on buildings in Paris, a shell is constructed first to 'hide' the actual construction so that the gorgeous aesthetics of the city are preserved. How neat!

On the way to the stores, I couldn't help but snap a few more photos of the gorgeous city.



*********


Finally, we hit the shops!

LANVIN




HERMÈS




MASON PEARSON BRUSHES




CHANEL


We saw a bunch of really really cool things going through the shops, but we'll get to them later. Promise! =)

By the time we decide to call off the search for shopping treasures, the sun was just about to set and it was time for dinner.

*********

8:00 pm...ish

Beets tells us that she is taking us to one of her absolute favorite restaurants: Au Pied de Cochon. Ultimately, we decide to hoof it on foot to the restaurant in order to really take in the city.

Oh, and while walking there we pass by this:
Louvre at sunset.

I dunno what was more exhilarating, walking by the Louvre or having a total hottie walking ten steps behind you.

Yeah. This super hot olive-skinned, bespectacled, artsy-looking studmuffin walked just a few paces behind us. Let me just say, we couldn't have been more obvious about checking him out. He walked behind us for about two blocks (which made us hope that maybe he was on his way to Au Pied de Cochon too) and our check-out rate was probably at seven head turns per block (x three Beets). Sadly, as we crossed a street, he turned right and descended into the Métro...



We finally reach Au Pied de Cochon, again another amalgam of intimacy and luxury.

It must have been the usual Beets hunger, or the excitement of a new place, but none of us were able to snap a picture of the restaurant. Luckily, Au Pied de Cochon offers its guests a little souvenir: a postcard. And on it is the restaurant's facade.


We got settled into a nice comfy booth and indulged in one of the trip's most sumptuous meals. One thing was still missing though:
"T3 should be sitting here." =(

Seriously, the food was yumdiddlyumcious!

*********

After dinner, we decide to do a little more walking. Beets shows us the building where her apartment used to be, the spot where her bike got stolen, and a really cool building that mixes traditional and modern with its classic facade and metal branch-like structures.

Finally, we happen upon the Église Saint-Eustache.


The beautiful church was closed so we were unable to go inside, but we were able to amuse ourselves with the sculpture out front.



The last picture was taken by a random Japanese tourist!



Since it was getting pretty late, we decide to head back to the hotel and rest up for the next day.

*********


10:45 pm. Le Walt

Rest schmest...

Now, what I forgot to mention is that throughout that day, Beets has been in contact with an old friend from Paris, we shall call him Petit. Scratch that. We'll call him Tee-Tee.

It doesn't take much to convince a Beet to go adventuring, so in about an hour or so, the three of us were showered and dressed and ready to meet up with Tee-Tee for a a few drinks.

We head to La Terrasse, which was just around the corner and find Tee-Tee already seated on the street-side area nursing a cocktail.

Oh!

Another thing I forgot to mention: When a café/restaurant in Paris has an outdoor area (which they usually do because the French smoke A LOT, and they enjoy their people-watching) all the chairs, and I mean ALL the chairs are faced towards the streetthe easier to people-watch with.

Back to La Terrasse

We approach Tee-Tee to greet him at which point he stands up to shake our hands. Now, Beets, Twin and I were all on various heights of heels but Tee-Tee quite easily towered over us by more than two-and-a-half heads. Tee-Tee was anything but petit.

Catching up and getting-to-know-you's over a couple of rounds of drinks was the perfect way to end the night. So perfect in fact, that none of us wanted the night to end! During the last round of drinks, we ordered a couple of slices of rich and delicious chocolate cake.

"There's a little something in your teeth..."

After throwing back our last drinks and scarfing down the chocolate cake it was almost time for bed.

Almost.

Still up for a little exploring, we headed over to the Champs-Élysées (Beets, Twin and I in a cab, and Tee-Tee on his motorcycle) to find another bar for another round of drinks.

Our first stop was to check out a Coste establishment, which unfortunately was closed (it was now somewhere past 2 am) and where forced to look for another place to quench our thirst.

After walking some ways, we see a bar with an outdoor seating draped in red fabrics and white and wooden furniture. The place was called Louis XXV ("Weren't there only like 19 Louis?")

We head inside and enjoy a couple of rounds of Kir Royal (a champagne based cocktail mixed with syrup. Our faves include crème de cassis [black currant], framboise [raspberry] and pêche [peach]).

After an our or so of more story-telling, joking around and general merry-making, it really was getting late. Tee-Tee needed to get to bed for he was traveling early the next morning to Belgium (on his motorcycle!) and we needed some decent sleep to keep up with the adventures the next day had in store.

*********

3:30 am Le Walt

We finally come back to our hotel room and like zombies get ready for bed. Once each of us were under the covers however

"Uh... I'm not sleepy!"
"Me neither!"
"Actually, I'm hungry!"

After about an hour of even more laughter and chit-chat it was finally time for goodnights.

"I bet you fifty Euros we'll be seeing Tee-Tee again tomorrow..."

*********

October 11.

10 am.

So we had originally planned to leave the hotel at nine and have breakfast by the Louvre. Needless to say, that didn't happen. Don't get me wrong though, none of us regretted the extra sleep we got the night before.

After getting showered and dressed, we head to the Métro to go back to the Champs-Élysées.

A subway kind of lovin'

We reach the Champs-Élysées and Beets tells us that we were about to have lunch at one of Paris' most iconic restaurants: La Durée!

Luckily, we get there just before the lunch-rush are quickly seated in the outdoor area.


See the picture above? Sitting directly behind Beets was a group of four elderly Japanese women, the Asian Golden Girls, if you will.

"That's us in fifty years!"

Immediately, we began arguing as to who each one would turn out.

"I'm definitely the one with the bob."
"No. You're the one in the coat."
"NO. You're the one in the coat!"
"Uh, they're all in coats. You're the short-haired one that's out of it."
"I think you're right..."

We finally give our orders and wait for our first cup of coffee. It soon arrives, but despite its soothing warmth, the crisp Parisian air takes its toll on Beets who had opted for a very light blazer that day.

"Beets," she says, "I think I'm just gonna pop into one of the stores and buy a coat. I'm so cold!"
"Do you want us to come with you?" Twin and I ask in unison.
"No, no. Stay here, people watch and enjoy! I'll be back real soon."

And with that, Beets headed towards the nearest clothing store and Twin and I watched the busy foot traffic of the Champs-Élysées.



After a few minutes my coffee had been drained and I was ready for a second. A few minutes after that, I had finished my second cup too. And a few minutes after that, the food came, but Beets was still MIA.

"Twin... The food looks so good. I can't wait any more!!!"

I send Beets a text message asking if she needed any help or anything. In about thirty seconds she replies:

"SALE! Sorry, heading back!"

After a few minutes, Beets returns clad in a new grey coat and two big shopping bags in her hand.

"Beets! SALE!!!"

Over the next hour, we switched from checking out Beets' new finds, chomping on our chow, and laughing and still slightly disbelieving that the three of us were really sitting in a café in Paris having lunch.





Sometime towards the end of the main course Beets receives a text message. She reads it and looks up at the chewing Twins.

"Tee-Tee is coming."

"I knew it!"



Tee-Tee arrives somewhere between tea and desserts. He wanted to stop by and see us off before heading to Belgium. After finishing our lunch, Beets and Twin decided to head inside the restaurant to buy a selection of macarons that Ladurée is famous for.

As we collected our boxes of macarons, it was soon time for us to say goodbye to Tee-Tee and to continue with our adventuring.

*********

We continue down the Champs-Élysées and pass by LV.


We simply passed by it, we didn't actually go in, but something interesting did happen outside the store.

While we were walking, an Asian lady approached us and asked us for an unusual favor. For some reason (I think she said she was waiting for a friend outside the store or something) she couldn't go into the store and was wondering if she could hand us some money and if we could go inside and buy this bag that she really wanted.

It was a bit strange, my initial reaction would've been: "Well, this request is a bit odd, but I'm not in a hurry so sure, why not."

But since, I was with Beets and Twin, I checked to see what the next move was. Beets apologized to the woman, and said that we were unable to help her.

When we were sure that she was out of earshot, Beets explained that that was one of the modi operandi of counterfeiters. The reason why they "can't" enter a store is because they're actually banned. They buy bags from designer stores to copy and security is told to keep an eye out for them...

After brushing off the weird run-in with the copycat stranger, we finally reach the end of the Champs-Élysées. The Champs, along with numerous other streets, ends in a roundabout. At the center of the roundabout stands the Arc de Triomphe.

The Arc de Triomphe is too iconically Parisian, we needed to take a picture. We weren't satisfied with one from the sidewalk (the Arc wouldn't have been centered, and it would have been at an angle), so we decided to cross the street and take the picture from there.

Taken in the middle of the street by another random tourist (Scandinavian this time, I think...)

After the the photog session (and a quick look inside the Nespresso store) we again descend into the Métro and head to the Louvre.

While on the train, this young guy was being flirtatious, but he was creatively excused.

Ooooh! Also, while underground we saw this:

video

These guys reminded me of the Buffers, the a cappella group that I was in while I was in college.

*********

Knowing that once I get overground I would be seeing the Louvre made me so excited. As we started our ascent, the Louvre's facade slowly came into view.


Ho.My.Gosh.I'mstandinginfrontoftheLouvreandIthinkI'mgoinginside!


Because of the following facts:
1. One could spend the entire day in the Louvre and still only see a fraction of it,
2. We were in Paris for less than 48 hours and,
3. We were meeting another friend later that afternoon.

We decided that entering the Louvre for thirty minutes, or an hour even would simply be a cruel tease for us. We decide to walk through the building to the other side and see the Pyramide du Louvre instead.

However, even if one simply crossed the building, you would already catch a glimpse of the treasures and wonders inside...


And look! Another cool door!

How can you not be curious as to what is behind this door!?

I swear, I was this close to opening that door! I felt like if I went through it, I would be transported back in time...


As the walkway's end inched closer and closer, the excitement started to rise again, we're going to see the Glass Pyramid! How very Da Vinci Code!


Finally, we clear the doors, and before us stood one of the most iconic structures in the world. Despite the fact that there were many groups of people loitering around it as if everybody had one in their backyard, it was still very impressive to me.

Beets and Twin looking so thoroughly local! I love!

After a few more pictures and singing a jingle or two (we are always singing) we head over to one of Paris' other Arcs. This one was on one end of the Jardin des Tuileries.


Seriously, there was simply too much to see!


After taking our pictures we noticed a man taking a wide picture of the arc, he didn't seem to mind that we were in the shot so we didn't rush to get out of it (we may or may not have posed too...)

We continued our stroll in the garden.


I couldn't help but imagine corseted women with birdcages in their giant powdered wigs gossiping behind their fans and hankies.

*********

After a little more exploring, it was time to meet up with Squirrel, Beets' cousin's wife, who was also vacationing in Paris at that time.

Once we join forces with the adorable Squirrel, we decide to head back to the hotel to drop off some cargo (the shopping bags from Beets' impromptu lunchtime shopping spree, a bag of groceries, a bag of goodies from a Middle Eastern bakerywe like to snack... a lotand a couple of other bags). Beets suggests that we walk someways down and skip a few Métro stops so we can see more of the city. Totally fine by us! More Paris please!

We finally reach our Métro station. It happened to be in front of this magnificent building:

Paris Opera House.

*********

5:45 pm

We reach Le Walt, deposit our bags, freshen up a bit and in time, we were offagain!

Our next stop?

The iconic symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower!

We decide to walk to the tower from the hotel. On the way, we were able to show Squirrel (who had just arrived and would be staying longer in Paris) the places we've been and the things that we've seen. Beets points out even more places as we found ourselves further down the street than we've walked the day before.

"This is where my very first apartment was! But hello, it's ground level and the giant windows open up right on the street. Goodbye privacy... I had to move!"

After some more walking...

Et voilà! La Tour Eiffel!


We plop ourselves down on the lawn and simply bask in the moment, here we were, in Paris, in front of the Eiffel Tower, a cool breeze caressing our faces, and happy contentment nestling in our chests.

We chat and laugh and finally Beets says, "We should have brought champagne!"

As if on cue, a man selling bottles of champagne appears out of nowhere and tries to sell us a bottle.

"WHAAAT?!" we all exclaim in unison. The man was not a salesman, he was an extortionist.

We tell him that his price was much too high, he responds by dropping the price by two Euros.
Still two high.
Minus five Euros.
Still too high, no thank you, it's okay, never mind.
The man continued to drop and drop and drop his prices until finally we started to wonder, "Wait a second, exactly how much are these bottles worth?" In the end we decided not to purchase any bottles.

At a little after eight, Beets tells us that she has a surprise: she made reservations at Pershing Hall for 8:30, and she tells us that it is one of her favorite places in Paris. Twin, Squirrel and I quickly exchange glances of wide-eyed wonder and squeal with glee.

We get up and start walking towards the street to catch a cab and this happens:



video

As if that trip couldn't be any more perfect...

*********

8:30 pm

We get to the über cool Pershing Hall and head inside towards the restaurant.

Yes, that's a wall of leaves.

For about two hours or so, we talk and eat (a lot, as usual) and I check out everyone at the restaurant.

Fact: Parisians are good-looking.

After dinner, Beets informs us that she has one more surprise: tickets to the world-famous Crazy Horse Saloon.

O.
M.
G.

DIE.



The Crazy Horse Saloon is THE place to go for burlesque/cabaret. It's sensual, not slutty. The shows are very tastefully done and amazingly conceptualized. As in O. M. G. From the dancers, the lighting, the costuming (or lack thereof), to the props and set, everything was carefully well-thought of.

We quickly head over to the Crazy Horse Saloon on L'Avenue George V.

Beets grabs our tickets, and we head down into the dark underground showroom.


As we are ushered to our table we are are welcomed by these:
Two bottles of Crazy Horse champagne!

As we wait for the show to start I peruse the brochure. Let's go through it together to give you an idea of what we saw.


The show in two words: too cool!!!

If "Visit Paris" is on your bucket list then I strongly suggest to add a side note: while in Paris, watch a Crazy Horse performance.

The Crazy Horse show is quite easily on my list of the top three events from this trip.



After the show, we decide to head back to the Champs-Élysées for one final stroll...

We stop by Publicis, a store by the Arc de Triomphe to buy magazines and other small purchases for our flights the next day. Afterwards, we sit on a streetside bench, and for a few precious moments we watch the Parisian world go by.



1 am.

Since we had an early morning flight later that day, we took Squirrel home (she and her parents were billeted at the California Hotel) and headed back to LeWalt to pack and get some rest.

"Beets, is there space in your suitcase?"
"Gosh... I'm leaving this..."
"Twin, do you have extra socks?"
"Please fit, please fit, please fit..."
"Please close, please close, please close..."
"I need an extra suitcase..."

Paris, goodnight.

*********

October 12.

7am.

Getting ready that next morning was a swift and silent affair. It was our last day in Paris. But it wasn't the idea of leaving Paris that saddened us that day. It was the knowledge that in a few hours, we have have to leave each other. A somber feeling hung about the air, typical on days of goodbyes.

Before we knew it, we were back at the Charles de Gaulle airport.

We all adopted a no fuss no muss attitude when it came to checking in and making sure all our business with tickets and taxes, suitcases and seats, and gates and times were set.




11 am.

Finally, the time had come...

Beets and I were heading back to Manila, and Twin was about to board for Toronto.

The time for goodbyes had come.

The last few minutes leading up to that moment found Twin and I not even looking at each other. When Twin left in August of last year, it was a sad affair. "But we have Spain in October!" we would exclaim to reassure the other. But now October had come, and the Spain and Paris trip was at its end. What will come next? The uncertainty of not knowing when and where we would see each other again was too much to bear this time.

Twin hugs Beets first. A long hard hug. As they look into each others eyes, I see tears begin to well.

Ho Gosh, I think to myself, Here they come.

When they finally let go of their embrace I hug Twin.

"Twin," I mutter shakily.
"Twin," she replies.


"Stop," she says. "Let's just go. I'll see you."

And with that, she turns on her heel and heads towards her gate. Within about thirty steps, she was lost in the crowd.

*********

Beets and I make our way somberly through the gates, to our plane and onto our seats. We weren't seated next to each other, which made me feel even more lonely after saying bye to Twin.

I spent that first leg of the journey home asleep.

*********

1 pm.

We arrive at the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for our layover to Manila. With about an hour to kill, Beets and I try to keep the other's spirits up as we walk through the Duty Free stores. We look in on an electronics stuff and play with some of the gadgets and gizmos. We also look at the clothing for sale (of course) and Beets purchases a pair of more comfortable shoes (the ones she was wearing had given her blisters, and luckily, I had band aids in my bag).

2:30 pm.

We take off and head back home. The in-flight entertainment selection was the same as the trip from Manila to Madrid. I was not in the mood for watching Bridesmaids again, nor was I in the mood to watch the Sex and the City Paris episode, so I spent most of that flight asleep... or eating...

*********

October 13

9 am.

We arrive at NAIA. We were back in Manila. Through text message, Beets lets me know that she is going to have to run ahead. I drowsily reply that it was totally ok.

As I exit the plane, the reality of the trip being over had not fully sunken in. Here I was in another airport. This could easily have been another layover, this may not have been my final stop.

Reality sunk in when I had to call home to see if someone was going to pick me up from the airport. As I hung up the phone and allowed the Manila heat to seep through my fantasy bubble; it was suddenly clearthe trip was over.

I am home.









Next upChapter 9: One of our best and oldest friends...





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Le Walt Image From:http://www.parishotel.co.uk/hotel-le-walt-paris.htm
Crazy Horse Image from: http://www.francetourisme.fr/crazy-horse-paris/crazy-horse-en.html 
Pershing Hall Restaurant interior from: http://pershinghall.com/pages/restaurant.html

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