While we already shared many, many favorites in common, there was still a bit of a cinematic learning curve, considering he'd never seen Roman Holiday, and I had never experienced the awesomeness that is The Godfather (apparently, citing all the Godfather references from You've Got Mail didn't count).
So on our third and fifth dates respectively, we knocked those off the list and continued our educational journey by throwing our most-beloved books and music in the mix, too.
And thanks to Will, I'm a now a full-fledged fan of The Replacements, Nick Drake, and yes, even Bob Dylan, and my iPod's so much better for it.
Now I'm sure you're probably wondering what any of that has to do with Paris, but trust me, there's a method to the self-proclaimed Tangent Queen's madness. See, one of the best novels Will ever bought for me was Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, a book that easily ranks in my top five today.
For whatever reason, I'd always been of the opinion that Hemingway was overrated—nothing more than a drunken bore (I guess I was right about one of the two anyway). In fact, I'm pretty sure I was supposed to read The Old Man and the Sea back in high school, but I didn't make it past the first 10 pages. Something about the title, not to mention his prose's oh-so-languid pace, didn't exactly inspire me. Ditto for Ernest's enthusiasm for pine-scented forests and bull fighting in For Whom The Bell Tolls and The Sun Also Rises. Yawn.
But A Moveable Feast, well, that's the proverbial horse of a different color. Not only were Hemingway's observations about people so wry, engaging and at times, laugh-out-loud funny, but his description of his time spent writing (and yes, boozing) in Paris immediately transported you there. Suffice it to say, my desire to visit "The City of Light" increased exponentially after reading.
Sure, I'd always dreamed about strolling down the Champs-Élysées with my madeleine, tiny coffee and a few shopping bags to boot, but after reading A Moveable Feast, I wanted to be wherever Hem, Hadley, F. Scott and Zelda were, too, including the illustrious Shakespeare and Company and the coffee shops and bistros they frequented in Montparnasse. Plus, Notre Dame. Can't miss Notre Dame.
So needless to say, as much as I hated leaving London, I was thrilled to get to Paris. I don't know about you, but it just doesn't seem right that after a mere two hours on the Eurostar from London, you're in PARIS! As crazy as the traffic is here in DFW, two hours of travel sometimes means I've merely made it to the other side of town. Or am an hour away from Austin. Seriously those Brits have it made...
After settling into our seats with our snacks (a café crema + M&Ms=the breakfast of champions), Will had a brilliant idea of how to make two hours fly by—playing Scrabble (and yes, we have not one, but two travel-sized sets). For those keeping score at home, I won the first game, Will won the second, and before long, we were enjoying the gorgeous French countryside where even the graffiti-lined walls still look posh somehow. For all its beauty, I half expected the sky to be pink.
And while the sky wasn't pink, it didn't take long for me to fall in love with Paris's myriad of charms anyway. Not only was our hotel the cutest little home away from home (complete with the tiniest little tiled bathtub known to man and a killer mini-bar with plenty of water con gas—my fave), but all the sights and smells were truly something to behold. Frankly, Hemingway was right on the money...
To properly explore Paris, I'm thinking you just have to go ahead, take the plunge and become a local because really, there's much to experience. But since we only had a short time, we did the best with what we had, meaning they'll be plenty of reasons to come back—soon.
Now, a few random observations about our time in "The City of Light"...
*Apparently, not finishing your plate is the same as saying your food wasn't good. During our first meal at a charming little brasserie in Montparnasse, my eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach. For my starter, I ordered French onion soup because I've always been a fan and thought it would be even better in Paris than, say, Panera. As predicted, it was absolutely marvelous with a ton of gooey Gruyére and toasted, buttery baguette on top, and I finished every irresistable drop. Trouble is, that didn't leave much room for the sole meuniére that I chose for my entree. So even though it was pure buttery bliss (and I'm not even a fish lover normally), I only took a few bites, which inevitably led to my server to raise her eyebrow and ask if I liked it. Funny enough, the same thing happened again with an unfinished omelet at breakfast the next day. I guess if you don't finish, they take it pretty personally. So at subsequnt meals, I made sure that I finished every bite—especially dessert. Mmmm.
*Eggs, Bacon, Salad? With the exception of the breakfast where I ordered banana pancakes, there was always a side of field greens with homemade vinaigrette next to my breakfast fare. Now don't get me wrong, I always love a good salad; I'm just not used to it with scrambled eggs and bacon. But hey, I guess that's not a bad way to make sure that you get enough greens, right?
*Yep, it's true...Yes, 99.9% of the French—especially the women—dress way better than we do in America, and scarves are an absolute must.
*It's okay to be a tourist, especially when your legs hurt. I'll admit, when I first got to town, I thought the people sitting on the top level of this double-decker tour buses looked silly and touristy. But when you've walked and walked and walked some more, they are an absolute godsend. Plus, even without the headphones, I felt like a got a great view of the city without even trying.
*Eiffel Tower: Cool, but...I don't need to spend half a day waiting to reach the top ever again. If I had one tiny—and I mean miniscule—complaint about my time in the fair Paris, I would've skipped the trip to the top of the Eiffel. Yes, it's one amazing view of the city, but I think I would've been okay just admiring it from afar.
*Shakespeare & Company: Nope, once isn't enough (we went twice).
*The Lourve: Looked great from the outside, but opted out of time with the Mona Lisa to shop and do a bit more exploring instead. Found a killer apron, an adorable new spoonrest for my kitchen, two cute little tees for the cutest niece on the planet, perfume and as a major bonus, stumbled upon the biggest Sephora I've ever been to. Yeah, it even puts the one in NYC to shame...didn't think that was possible.
*And the verdict is...The Barefoot Contessa has always insisted (on several episodes of her show, natch) that it's impossible to have a bad day in Paris, and you know what? She was right. I absolutely loved walking through this amazing city with my hubby by my side, and who knows, maybe our time there will even inspire our future writing, just like it did for Hemingway, Fitzgerald and the list goes on and on...