The day I left for Europe my hairdresser told me I was wearing the wrong shoes. “What?” I asked, looking down at the serviceable Merrill hiking boots which had accompanied me on many a sojourn. “Nope,” she repeated in a definite tone. “You can’t wear those shoes in Paris.” You don’t know my hair dresser, so I’ll tell you that when she says a thing she means it. As I was going straight to the airport from the salon, I could not rectify the situation until I got to Amsterdam.
On Monday while my husband worked I tried to turn myself into someone who could blend in with the Parisians. For the fashion mavens among you, I went from wearing these items:
After our usual good time (mostly mine, while my husband worked) we departed Amsterdam for Paris by train on Wednesday afternoon. Neither of us had ever been to Paris, but we were certain that one way or another we would enjoy ourselves. After a confusing time at Gare du Nord we boarded the metro to the apartment we had rented.
We got into our charming apartment without a hitch, but we were tired, so we spent the evening in, and dined on items from a market down the street.
The next day I was ready to walk while looking smart and sophisticated. We soon learned that we were lucky enough to have blundered in on yet ANOTHER national holiday : May 1st in France! The streets were thronged with tourists walking in the rain, looking to see what would be open that day. We set out from the eighth arrondissement to see for ourselves.
Cafe in the Jardin de Tuileries ? Thankfully, yes.
Bathroom outside of Notre Dame? Thankfully, yes, although it smelled like a zoo.
When we left the Ile de la Cite we turned toward the Eiffel Tower, the only definite destination of the day. Having been unable to purchase advance tickets on the internet we had opted for a behind the scenes group tour of the Tower. As we walked we talked about what other things we might see on the way and what photos we would like to take if we arrived early. And we did expect to arrive early, for we still had one and a half hours until our tour.
Somewhere around that time I started to suspect I had worn the wrong socks, for the soles of my new boots seemed to have become so thin that I could feel every slap of my feet on the pavement. On and on we walked. At one point I realized I had my airplane socks in my purse. I sat down on a ledge and put those babies right on. Ahhh, for a few minutes the cobblestones didn’t feel so close to my skin.
And we walked and we walked. With my sore feet and bulging purse I was going as fast as I could. Even the fact that I looked smart and sophisticated was of little comfort. The Eiffel Tower was just so far away! We kept thinking it would be just around the corner, but when we turned, no. Not yet. Eventually my husband started to worry that we couldn’t even make it in time. I did not mention that I was past caring whether I ever saw the Eiffel Tower or any other monument ever again.
We rushed onto the Eiffel Tower grounds with two minutes to go until the tour. What you need to know abut the tour is that we missed two hours of lines, and that when we rode the elevator up, sheets of rain were buffeting the Tower so that it was useless to try to go on the observation deck. We exited as soon as we could.
We trudged the streets again in the rain to a sidewalk cafe which served overpriced beer. I didn’t care; I was going to get to sit down!!!! And oh, when I did……has anyone out there ever found the act of sitting down to resemble a sexual experience? I don’t want to embarrass my children any more than I already have, but that 14 euro beer was worth every last penny!
Once we were seated with our beers I had an announcement to make to my husband: under no circumstances would I walk back to our apartment. I didn’t know where we were or how we got there, but he was going to find me the metro to get back. Or else. Since he had had the big idea to walk all day, and his google map seemed to have underestimated the distances, he deemed it politic to agree immediately. I did concede to walk one more half mile in the rain to where we had found a brew pub open.
We were the oldest people there, but again, aside from being as wet as a drowned rat at least I looked smart and sophisticated for my age! In time we left, on the lookout for the metro station. We walked and walked and somehow missed the first station. But lo, in the darkness was another one! There was yet hope for the two foreign waifs!
Back at the apartment, I allowed myself to look at my fitbit to see how many steps I’d walked that day. Are you ready for it???? Drum roll, please???????
29,000. That is correct, my friends.
29,000 steps and 12.45 miles for the smart, sophisticated girl in the new boots! I was tired, aching, wet and cranky. But oof, what if I’d had the same experiences that day while wearing those old hiking shoes?? Qui serait terrible, no?