After a week in the warmth of Faro we headed to Paris planning to spend a couple days there before catching our train to Flers on Monday. There were moments of trepidation as we anticipated being in Paris. The unrest in France over the legislation to change the retirement age from 62 to 64 is still strong, and the accompanying les manifestations are happening every day or so, some turning violent. Paris being the largest city and the capital experiences the most frequent of them. When we were in Paris 11 days ago there were huge piles of uncollected garbage on the sidewalks, since the sanitation workers are still on strike we knew they would only have grown. So the thought of just flying to CDG and pretty much heading to the train station instead of spending the weekend was discussed a few times.
We decided to wait until we arrived in Paris and had a chance to assess the situation firsthand before determining our next move. We arrived in Paris and the next morning we went to Le Musée Rodin just as planned – aside from the garbage piles Paris was pretty much normal. Tricia took this beautiful photo.
The years I spent traveling for work taught me that most travel situations are worse on the news than in real life. I have had my share of delayed and cancelled flights, hotels that lost my reservation, etc. but as far as actual nightmares I don’t really have any stories to tell. My practice was always to take as many precautions as I could, like always getting to the airport at least two hours early, and think of alternative plans should there be a problem, more often than not everything would go according to plan, or with just a change in flight time or something.
Years ago I traveled to Jakarta to do a seminar, during a time of major political upheaval in the country. Some acquaintances insinuated I was nuts to go there; I went any way. I landed, took a taxi to the hotel, checked in, then took a taxi to Planet Hollywood. BTW the bar there was so cool, it was built around a volcano that erupted and shook the place every 30 minutes. Not a rioter in sight, but I did get cool t-shirts for my nieces.
In the morning, before we left for Le Musée, I did what I always do on a Paris morning, I went to le cafê for un café and a sketch. Le Maine Café on Avenu du Maine was just a couple of blocks away. This morning I had company from the friendly café kitty. Other than the garbage merrily flying up the street thanks to the brisk wind, it was normal Paris. (Please though do read my note at the end of the blog)
Walking back from the Rodin we were on the alert for lunch, a passion that we share wholeheartedly with the French. We rarely search the internet as the adventure of exploration is part of the pleasure and internet comments are usually written by tourists, we like looking for where the locals go. We came upon Le Standard Rive Gauche, and what a find. At the moment it is our new favorite in Paris.
My entree, Le Tigre Qui Pleure – I have no idea why it is called “the crying tiger” – was one of the best beef preparations I have ever had, the sharp knife they provided was not at all needed. The sauce was amazing with just a whisper of soy and spice. Chef Paul Bocuse would be proud, though I am sure it was not found in his strictly traditional cookbook.
So the moral of the story is that people and the news tend to focus on the negatives and exaggerate them – something I fear I do as well, but must strive to avoid. So my advice as theTravelsketcher is to plan well, but not over plan, allow plenty of time, and above all be flexible – more often than not the worst case will never happen, and if it does, well embrace it as part of the adventure.
Travel as much and as far as you can, even if the longest trip you can take is just around the block, don’t let the fear win.
Note: I do understand the issues that the protesters are upset about, we try to see it through French eyes not our American eyes. So my thoughts on being able to travel to Paris without the strikes affecting us are not meant at all to trivialize the importance of the issues, nor the inconveniences they are causing, it is as Dickens said “The best of times, the worst of times” and I hope suitable resolutions are reached soon. Today as I write this it is another planned general strike day, and already there have been disruptions to the plans many folks, many will not be able to see the Louvre as planned, I do hope they will explore and make the best of the day, Paris on its worst day is still an amazing place.