The trip was a flurry. Six days, five nights…2 countries (England and France), 3 cities (London, Beaune, France). The schedule: Land in London, eat dinner, sleep…wake up the next morning, take the train to Paris, pick up a rental car and drive to Beaune by mid-afternoon. Two nights in Beaune, then drive to Paris. Two nights in Paris, then arise early and take the train to London. Spend an hour in London, then go to Heathrow and fly back home.
It was like drinking concentrate, an overwhelming pace of living, an overwhelming tide of sensation; in the end, I gave in to the pace. I gave in to the fact that I would not be able to see everything I wanted to see. I gave in to the natural pace of things, to all the surprise gifts that such ambitious travel would give me. I “went with the flow,” and let the river carry me.
You see, I’m normally someone who has a list of things to see, and sticks to them. Not an itinerary (I am not THAT anal), but a list of things to do–and everything beyond that is gravy. But when you’ve got a matter of hours in a town (literally: in London, we waited 2 hours for our luggage, and ended up at our hotel in time for dinner, only to wake up the next morning before dawn to catch a train to Paris)…when you’ve got a matter of hours in a town, you just have to go with the flow. You have to look up at the sky, see the gunmetal clouds holding off rain, or see a red phone booth or a red metro sign and smile.
That has to be enough.
In fact, you have to say to yourself over and over, “This is good enough.” Because you are there, and you know you want to stay longer, but that’s not going to happen. I wouldn’t recommend the “day or two in each town on a week-long trip” vacation strategy–but in the end, it’s a whole lot better than nothing.
I’m home now–realizing that I never made the time switch to Europe. My body recognizes this time zone and I fell asleep and woke up on my regular schedule on my first night and morning home.
Now I sit here, in fond disbelief, of our travels. Some things that make me smile:
- Indian food in London (we always make time for Indian food in London).
- Antonio and his martinis (and the way he makes them) at the Egerton House Hotel.
- Walking through London’s neighborhoods…reading the signs of all the famous people who lived in the homes–in Belgravis, in Chelsea, in Knightsbridge, etc., etc.
- Going through the chunnel. It was dark and black, and we didn’t see a thing out the windows of the train, but it was also so very cool to be jetting underneath the waters between England and France.
- All the countrysides.
- White cows!
- Boeuf bourguignon in Burgundy.
- Our friends’ Great Gatsby-like wedding. Complete with beauty and symbolism and irony and romance.
- Escargots in Burgundy!
- Birthday in Paris.
- Oh–I loved that it was eerily cold in London and Paris! I hate the heat.
- The falafel in Paris! Unexpected. Delicious. And an informal contrast to all the formal gastronomy of the previous days at the wedding and in Paris.
- Wiener dogs everywhere in Paris!
- Red, red, red: red flowers in the hotel window boxes, red awnings, red metro signs, red guard uniforms, red phone booths, red buses.
- Beautiful architecture everywhere.
- Walking through the streets of Paris, especially the Marais and its Jewish neighborhoods.
- Stumbling across some great food when desperate and hungry and unguided.
See? It was a crowded, packed week that left me exhausted and yet wanting more…but it was enough.