THE FIRST TIME I SAW PARIS

I was here. After visiting several countries in Europe, through the years. I was finally in the City of Lights, Paris. I boarded the Eurostar at the Waterloo Station in London, took the famous journey through the tunnel which I'd heard so much about, debarked the train, and stood for a moment. In front of me was this train station, of vast proportions, Gare du Nord. As I walked toward the station, I felt a feeling of freedom. I anticipated having to go through Customs, not realizing I already had, when I boarded the train in London. Walking into the station, reminded me of Pennsylvania Station in New York. The Dichotomy being Gare du Nord struck me as being about a thousand years old. Sadly, Pennsylvania Station was rebuilt in 1963. All of the beautiful Architecture was demolished. Both stations, however, were filled with restaurants, boutiques, bakeries, everything to fill one needs. Speaking of needs, after my long train journey, I needed to take care of a few basic needs. No, not that need. I took care of that need on the train. The first order of business was money. I needed local currency, so I went to a Currency exchange office in the station. Once that was taken care of, I needed to eat. I walked into a small cafe, in the station, probably similar to the small cafe in the song "Mam'selle" and sat down. I was a little nervous. How would my College French hold up? Looking at the menu, I made my selection. Je voudrais du poulet et du riz s'il Vous plaît. "Would you like something to drink, with it?" she asked in perfect English. Juste de l'eau, merci, I replied. After the meal, I left the station and began the journey to my hotel. As I always do, for international travel, I called the hotel from my home and asked how to get from the airport or train station to the hotel. In this case, the Gentleman to whom I spoke said the station was within walking distance. With his directions on paper, I started walking. I was enjoying the stroll when I passed a Men's Clothing Store with cashmere coats. I immediately saw the potential for buying a cashmere coat in Paris. When I wore the coat, I would get compliments. I would always say "Thank you. I bought it in Paris". This would be my "Thank you. I bought it in Paris" coat. I entered the store and was greeted with much enthusiasm. I tried on one coat, and the salesman exclaimed "It's yours". I was sure he meant "It's yours" when I paid for it. The sign "Cashmere Coats" was a little misleading. The coats were not 100 % cashmere. They were cashmere and wool blend. On the other hand, compared to the price of such a coat in Los Angeles, they were incredibly cheap. I have a problem with decisions and indecision. This would probably be connected to my O.C.D. I overthink everything, weighing all the pros and cons. I continued to try on coats, and take them off while weighing. I finally decided the pros were in my favor. Very Cheap, looked good, and would be my "Thank you. I bought it in Paris" coat. Obviously, in order to have such a coat, one has to buy it in Paris. The con, wool, and cashmere blend, not 100% cashmere, became very minor. I finally bought the coat I liked and continued my journey to the hotel, with coat in one hand, pulling my suitcase on wheels with the other hand. I suddenly came to an unexpected wall, which prevented me from going straight. This was not mentioned in my directions. The wall was the bottom of a highway. I made a right turn, not sure what my next move would be. By this time it was dark. There I was in a strange city, in a strange country, not knowing where I was going, at night. I walked until I reached an underpass. I walked under the highway, made a left turn, and walked a few blocks. Suddenly, across the street there it was! My small hotel was across the street, in the middle of a short triangular street. It was just as I'd pictured it. It was the small hotel, on a very short narrow triangular street, that I'd seen in so many French movies. It was so very Paris.

Upon checking in, a Gentleman brought me up to my room. It was a very large room, with a large bed. He explained that the room had a television, but all of the programs would be in French. Considering the city I was in, I wasn’t nearly as surprised as perhaps he thought I should have been. The bathroom was slightly elevated. I had to step up to enter. The commode tank was above the commode, rather than behind it. The room had a small balcony. It seems all of the older hotels in Paris have balconies with the rooms. I walked out to the balcony and stood. I heard faint jazz music. Looking down I saw a small club across the street, which was where the music emanated. I love jazz. As an adolescent, I grew up listening to jazz, while my compadres listened to Rock and Roll. As I stood on the balcony, I started thinking of tomorrow and my “to-do" list. First I would wake up and from my balcony, see the beautiful Paris in the morning I'd heard so much about. On m'a dit que rien d'autre ne pouvait se comparer. I was told nothing else could compare. After my morning shower, I would stroll down the Rue de la Paix, as described in the song, "Mademoiselle de Paris". And of course, being a lover of jazz, I had to go to the Latin Quarter. A friend of mine told me of this club called Chez Papa, where the music was sublime and always filled with friendly people. Sitting in a club, on the left bank of Paris, with good music and engaging in good conversation, pourrait-on demander plus? Could one ask for more? This was for tomorrow. Perhaps later this evening, I might go to the club across the street. For now, time to rest. As I stood on my balcony and continued to listen to the faint music, something told me, my stay in Paris was going to be very enjoyable.