Sunday, July 3, 2011
TSS - 7.2.11
I am nervous for several reasons. First of all, the Charles de Gaulle airport. I think I can make it through customs on my own, but there is finding the baggage claim area - lugging my suitcase off the carousel - and then trying to find the shuttle service to take me to the apartment. Once I get over that hurdle, I can breathe a sigh of relief.
But I am also anxious because I want to make this the best trip it can be. I don't want to come home and regret that I should have done more. Adventure is not normally a word in my vocabulary, but I want to try to embrace it this trip.
I have also persevered and completed the first two lessons of Rosetta Stone. I plan to complete Lesson 3 this week, and that will give me about ten days or so to learn as much of lessons four and five as possible. I have also downloaded all the audio CDs to my iPod and hope to listen to the "conversation" tracks on the plane ride over. Even if I doze a bit, I am hoping that subliminal learning will take place.
I have read numerous books on this fabulous city and spent countless hours surfing the internet. I have developed an account on Trip Advisor, which is a fantastic site for travel reviews as well as vacation planning. I have always enjoyed planning for trips - in fact, I nearly like the anticipation better than the trip itself. Some say I am organized, others say I am obsessed. But the more I visualize the trip, the more I am able to appreciate it once I am there.
Knopf mapguides for Paris is fabulous! I happened to pick this up on a lark when our local Borders bookstore was going out of business. It is one of the best buys I have made in a long time. The book is small enough to fit in any purse, and the fold out maps are magnified enough that I can read the street names with no problem. While the publishers included many of the typical tourist sites on the map, there is plenty of room for me to indicate other, lesser known sites in the area. I combined all the information that I learned from my research and made my own handnotes on each of the maps. This is an indispensable help to me - and will provide a terrific souvenir once the trip is complete.
City Walks Paris is another delightful travel companion. The city has been segmented into 50 one-to-two hour walks and again, the maps are magnified to make it easy to follow the path. I plan to pull out those cards which match the Knopf map of the area that I plan to visit each day. Between these two resources, I should be able to stay on the well-traveled path.
Rick Steves' Paris was another spontaneous purchase at Half Price Books. True, it is a year old, but how much could change in a year's time? The city has been there hundreds of years, right? I really enjoyed this guide because it is an easy read - not dry or boring in the least - and there are hand drawn maps of several areas. While these maps aren't drawn to scale, they do give the reader a nice overview. I hope to scan these and print them off so that I don't have to carry the entire book, just the map of the places I plan to visit that day.
I then created a table in a Microsoft Word document that lists the Map number from the Knopf book, the number(s) of the corresponding city walks notecards, the key sites that I wish to visit in that area, and restaurant/cafe recommendations for that location. I am hoping that this will make it easy to decide where to go the night before - gather supplies together - and set off on a daily adventure without worry. That is the plan anyway.....
Globejotting and I want to do one of the exercises he prescribes: pre-travel writing. I have done the research, now I need to journal my anticipations and expectations of each location. I can try to hone my sensory writing while at the same time getting over my fear of dining alone. I am hoping that sharing these goals for the "world" to see will be the motivation I need to follow through.
The Greater Journey or if I need something a little less ambitious, Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik or My Life in France by Julia Child. I already have Emile Zola and Victor Hugo downloaded on my Kindle to read while traveling.
I wish all of my American readers a safe and festive Fourth of July - and I hope everyone can enjoy a literary vacation this week.