Wednesday, 4 September 2013

"On my way to Paris ..."


                     For greater appreciation of the following words, please view the previous story.

Sunday, 10th of March 2013 (Sydney, Australia)

Three years in the making, a dream to celebrate my 50th birthday in Paris was about to take off as I waved goodbye to my girlfriends.

Once on the plane I was far too excited to fall asleep and so instead I kept on watching French movies, one after the other. All seven of them to be precise.

They are usually very deep and real. They make you reflect on your life and many of them tend to feel like documentaries with a lesson to learn.

However, this wasn't the main reason for watching them.

Since my ability to speak French was buried somewhere in my memory archives, I was hoping that by listening to the French language I may recover a few extra words.

This was going to be a top up to the earlier tutorials received from Edith Piaf when listening to her many song over and over.

It is very hard to get bored with her as she takes you on the ups and downs of her life.

Most importantly, it was her focus on the “ups” that kept her going and ... (I feel) helped many others keep their hopes alive.

Thanks to Emirates' entertainment selection, I was lucky to get an hour of snooze just before landing at the Charles de Gaulle airport.

Anyhow, when you are young (or feeling young) you wouldn't want to waste your time on sleep! ... would you?

You just need to stock up on extra adrenalin batteries to keep you going.

Monday, 11th of March 2013 (Paris, France)

                                                The eagle has landed ... (meaning the plane)


Bienvenue à Paris!
Take the RER to the Gare du Nord and then a taxi to ...” were the instructions given by my host Olivier.

So now I am waiting to buy my RER ticket in a rather long queue and in the company of two lovely young guys (is not what you think) returning home from their six months long holiday in Australia.

Despite the lack of sleep, I was still bubbling with excitement like a good French champagne, rather than a sparkling wine with a short lived fizz.

As one of my birthday cards said ...

                                    “When we were born, things were made to last.” (isn't this true!)

About an hour later, I was safely delivered to the Gare du Nord by Damien and Jordan as they happen to travel in the same direction.


They really helped me feel as if I was their age again (about twenty) and backpacking around the world.

Though I could easily be their mum (scary thought ... let's keep it out), I was very pleased that they opted to address me “tu” rather than “vous”.

However, I wouldn't be surprised or offended if afterwards they would referred to me as this “femme bizarre”.

I will never forget Damien's words when I asked to have a photo taken with one of them ...

I will take a photo of you with Jordan as he is a better looking.”
To which I replied ...

Excuse me! Would you mind if I decide which one of you is a better looking.”

                                So here I am with Jordan ... (and I will keep my preference a secret)

                                            .          .          .          .          .

At the Gare du Nord the boys directed me towards the taxi rank before taking off to catch another train home.

It was cold and grey outside, but my backpack kept me warm as I walked on the bright side of my life looking for a taxi to take me home. (not a country road, but yes ... to the place I belong)

Contrary to the bad reputation of Parisian taxi drivers, I was fortunate to have a lovely Haitian man taking me to my final destination.

                                           .          .          .          .          .

We are now standing on my street ... (meaning me and my backpack)

No 23, Rue des Martyrs is awaiting me with an open door.
                                                       (literally, as you see on the photo)

At no other time, have I found a street door to be open as it not supposed to be.
A few days later I had an “aha” moment and realised that it was open for a reason which unfortunately I can not disclose to you, but I did to some of my friends.

(through the next door)

                   (view over our courtyard from the 4th floor)

A fresh glass of excitement refilled my body as I “bubbled” or rather wobbled with my backpack up to the six floor.



When a generously wide “merry go round” staircase ended on the 4th floor, I noticed a secret door leading to the 5th and 6th heavenly sphere along a much narrower pathway.

As I reached the door to my hideaway, I was greeted by the sounds of J.S.Bach on an acoustic guitar. Heavenly sphere indeed ... (with compliments from the neighbour opposite)


I found the key and two clicks later I stepped into my cosy attic apartment complemented by a grand view of Parisian sky lingering along the roof tops.

With my head in the clouds, I could barely hear the calls of my stomach wanting also to be pleased...

It is time to go hunting for a croissant, baguette and some cheese!”

The air felt much colder by now and the dusk started to descend gently as I strolled along the Rue des Martyrs to pick up some goodies. Shortly after a light drizzle decided to join us, but since everything I wanted was only a few steps away I managed not to get wet. (leaving “Dancing in the rain ...” for another day)

Upon reaching my abode a drizzle became a rain entwined by a strong wind.

After putting a stop to the chaotic banging of the window shutters, I begun to unpack my bag while munching on the baguette and cheese.

As the heater filled the space with warmth I started to feel sleepy. However, the excitement about my following day's visit to the Edith Piaf's museum kept my eyes open for a bit longer, so that I could prepare my metro route before laying my head on a pillow.

While placing a collection of metro maps on the table, a black cloud came over me flooding my heart with great fear...

Oh no! ... I left the museum address back home. How could I have done such thing!”

Yes, how could you ... (my friends would say). You are always so organised.”

I was truly shaken by this horrible uncertainty, even though my rational mind was well assured of finding the address in time for my early afternoon appointment with Bernard Marchois.

                                                            (photo from the following day)

Right now there was nothing else I could do but get some rest.

Feeling very tired I climbed to my bed hidden bellow the roof - but found it difficult to fall and stay asleep as the gut felt anxiety kept on waking me throughout the night.

I knew that there was something else ...

Something that justified the intensity of my fear; an invisible, but tangible play of opposing forces with one of them wanting to sabotage my visit to the museum.

At first ...

If I hadn't listened to my intuition and had not extend the trip by bringing my departure a day forward, I would have missed out on this very important aspect of my journey. Believe it or not, this was the only time slot available during my nine day stay and the booking was made well in advance.

Then ...
A delayed departure from Sydney due to a medical emergency on board had also tried to threatened my appointment - the possibility of missing my connecting flight was only minutes away from becoming real!

And now ... a third time lucky (or not).

(to be continued ...)

Photography and drawings by Olga Kulanowska