The little stuff, in contrast, is the stuff that you do that connects you with a culture, makes you feel part of a place, like you are home. In Paris, things like sitting at cafes, grabbing a fresh baguette on your way back home or deciding that you are going to air dry your hair into its natural state for the remainder of your trip.
To make it a little more complicated, even on the big stuff days I always do some little stuff. Helps keep me grounded and feel less like a crazed tourist. My writing pattern on the big stuff days usually goes something like this, “I did this, then I did this, then I did this…etc.”.
Every once in a while you just need a day that is entirely about the little stuff. Sundays are particularly good for this. If you were to look back at my prior Sundays, you’d note that most often these are the days that I wander around and do nothing but people watch and eat. Try to keep it simple. Helps me to get my energy back and refocuses me on why I really enjoy traveling.
Today was Sunday! Was looking forward to it as I have been pounding the pavement pretty hard and getting run down from all of my cultural absorption. It just so happens that today was also Biodiversity Day 2010. Well, to be honest, I’m not positive it was actually today, but let’s say for the sake of this story that it was sometime this weekend. I’ll also add that I am writing out of order because today is so fresh in my mind. You’ll find Saturday crops up at a later point with a similar theme on a much smaller scale.
Back to my Sunday. Slept in. Less sleeping in than getting up at 6:30 and hanging out in my bed for several hours drinking tea and doing lots of nothing. Sometime around 11 I decided that perhaps I should get up and join the world. In my defense, I had my windows wide open and it was deathly quiet outside so I must not have been the only one taking it slow.
Besides the fact that everyone on my little street was kept awake between the hours of 3 and 5 this morning by thumping sounds of “Funky Town”, a bizarre “I Touch Myself” remix (by the Divinyls) and various Blacked Eye Peas and Lady Gaga tunes. I, of course, have lived in fear of making any noise after 9pm as my little instruction book indicates Parisians desire quiet and get rather upset if someone disrupts the evening and early morning peace. So here I am, suddenly wide awake due to the after hours club someone in our building is running and finding myself, yes, rather upset. I guess I am getting old. I bury my head under two pillows and eventually fell back asleep. The lazy morning was not only desired, but also necessary.
Let’s get back on topic which was my planned lazy Sunday filled with little stuff in celebration of Biodiversity Day.
It was one of those insanely gorgeous days that you just want to bottle up and bring home with you. First day I actually had to shed the outer layer in order to stay comfortable.
Ventured out and headed in the general direction of Champs Elysees. If I forgot to mention above, it is closed off from traffic for three days this weekend, filled with plants. Brilliant, I thought. Fabulous way to spend a Sunday doing a little bit of nothing. I’ll just meander around up enjoying the greenery and breathing a little traffic free fresh air.
Before I get there I am diverted in the direction of Les Halles and Saint Eustache church. There was a market I remembered I wanted to check out on rue Montorgueil. Kind of a neat area filled with cafes, less ritzy shops and some modern architecture thrown in to give it somewhat of an eclectic feel. Eventually found my pedestrian only market street, squeezed in a little café people watching, waded through puddles of post market street cleaning water and then headed back to the church.
From the church, I go out to the Louvre where I hear my favorite pick up line to date. "You? Me? Champs Elysees?" Classic. Simple in delivery and yet perfectly cliche when spoken with a heavy french accent. Still makes me giggle.
After the Louvre and its distractions, I take the usual route out into the gardens. At this point, it has gotten really hot. The sun is reflecting off of the white sandy paths and causing me complete blindness. Additionally, the white sandy paths are throwing up flying dust everywhere. I feel myself being coated. I brave the elements and spend some time with the boats on the pond and then get the heck out of there. For such a beautiful place, it was really intense. I felt like I was in the desert. I was craving shade.
I am getting excited at this point. Biodiversity day on the Champs Elysees. It just sounds cool. I wonder curiously why everyone is sort of walking with me as I leave the gardens and head in that direction. I eventually realize in horror that every single person has likely had the exact same idea as me. I honestly contemplate heading in another direction but felt like that would be wimpy of me and if I walked all this way through the blinding hot desert, I would most certainly reach my destination goal. Press on.
There must have been a gazillion people out today. Masses upon masses of dusty, hot people in search of plants. The strangest thing. I thought about it though and understand that Paris has had a long winter and I think this was the first really hot summer like day of the season. It takes forever to reach the ultimate destination and by the time I do, I realize this is pointless. There are too many people walking shoulder to shoulder to see anything. When I finally did squeeze through about a third of the way up, I see that the very middle is filled with low to the ground planters of things like grass and what looks like weeds. I decide that I am done. I celebrated biodiversity and I am going home to take a shower.
All of that build up in my mind for something that didn’t really exist. Or maybe it did and I just turned away before I hit the really good part. Oh well. In my reflection on the day, I will say that despite the heat and dirt and lack of actually doing anything, it was still a marvelous as I was out in the sun, soaking up vitamin D and feeling quite alive. That and I did pause for a bit to think about what biodiversity means to me and I suppose that was probably one of the key goals of the event anyway. And if that is what it means to celebrate biodiversity in my own little way, then it was a success.
On the way home, I pick up a piping hot fresh baguette from the corner boulangerie, a bunch of petite radishes, a gorgeous looking tomato, some kind of cheese and my favorite cornichons. I have a bottle of beautifully chilled rose (with the little accent mark missing) waiting to be opened and a picnic to be had. Life is good.
Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and found some time to see the beauty in the little stuff.