At the check-out: “Do you have an ID with you?”
In my head: ”Miss, it has been a long day. I just want to go home as quickly as possible, and enjoy a beer. I promise I’ll drink responsibly. And also, I am 30: way past 25 and definitely not 18”
In reality: ”No, but I don’t need one really” plus a big smile.
She’s let me buy the beer. I did only take one with my tea. I told you, I’d drink responsibly. Later when I sipped through my chilled beer, I started to feel the flattery of being id’d. I can’t help being vain now and then, whether I am 30 or not.
It was my 30th birthday last month. My boyfriend thought we should do something special. He suggested going to Paris. Also, we have lived 3-hours train-journey far from Paris for like 15 months now. It’s about the bloody time we took the ride.
In Paris, we climbed up to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. It was cold – February European continental cold. Being so high up made the cold much worse. But the view was so impressive that we thought we would climb further to the top next time. A starry summer night, maybe.
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It was Friday afternoon. Quiet hilly paths across Montmartre were filled with sunlight but rather cold. I was packed up with hat and gloves, but no city map and phone data and very little French.
I got off at a metro station in the Montmartre area. I read in a guide that it was a nice area with something nice on the top of the hill. So I started to crawling up slopes slowly.
Beautiful houses sprawled all over steep edges. More art galleries appeared each time I turned a corner. I found one window full of art objects inspired by cats. What a heaven on earth!
It was strange how climbing up Montmartre reminds me of Edinburgh as well as a small town near Hannover in Germany. Sometimes the experience of travel lies inside the self – the sensation you have there and then, rather than physical forms. To be fair, all three places are hilly. Maybe it was the dizziness I felt going up, again and again.
Once I reached the top, things changed. Quiet alleys were replaced with a big square packed with artists who tried to show off their talents in more obvious ways. Some offered to do me a portrait. At least that is what I got from my broken French. Out of no where, there were eateries after eateries. Also, delicacies, gift shops and a lot of tourists.
It is not that I wasn’t a tourist myself. It is that I didn’t see so many climbing up the hill with me. Suddenly, they filled up every inches outside and inside Sacré-Coeur. The click-click of their cameras joined the service’s choir in a rather distasteful way. Their selfie sticks did not look the part of the surrounding of this solemn place. I might sound too judgemental, I know. But I always think there is much more to a place than a chance to have nice photos.
Sacre-Coueur itself stands impressively over looking the metropolitan Paris. But I enjoyed the stroll up the hill more than the architecture prize for those who reach the submit. I did not much like the easy steps that lead straight down to tourist traps with more gift shops (and few con men and women). I saw people pretended to bet 50 euros, one after another, on quick-eye tricks in the pavement. Either Paris was full of very rich people, or its street scammers should really try to keep the show real.
I got down to another metro station to go pick up my man at some conference that kept him from exploring Paris with me. I would probably go back to Montmartre with him the next time we pass by Paris. I hope it will still be sunny.
Not yesterday sunset but of equal beauty
So I decided that I had enough of this long cold winter. I had enough of having to work indoor, do yoga indoor and even tend to my chilli plants indoor.
Yesterday afternoon, I put on my neglected running shoes, my big thick hoodie and a pair of gloves. I headed to my park and I did 5K. I was out and about. I saw a gorgeous swan swimming along the canal. Sunset was breath taking and I was out to see it. It could have been better without the bitterly cold wind but I was fine. I was more than fine.
Today was still cold, so much that I had to use my blanket in the office again (Yep, I have my own blanket in the office but it is another story). Despite the cold and an ache in my thighs, I am so proud that I have challenged the winter. Today and probably tomorrow, winter is still gonna win over me. But I am no longer locked indoor. I am back to running. And when summer finally comes, maybe I do 10K. And Great North Run one day? Definitely!