Day 27

Now that I’ve experienced it, I can recommend what my friend Eleanor routinely did upon moving to Paris for half the year:  ride a subway or Metro line  to the end, and follow that route back home on foot.   Do this on a weekend morning, of course, to avoid the rush hour crowds!

This weekend I walked through the Louvre, the L’Orangerie, and the Musee d’Orsay with Frank, and we walked the 20th arrondissement of Paris with Eleanor and her husband Leendert  (more on that tomorrow). 

Walking or cycling through the side streets and small neighborhoods in an unfamiliar city can truly mean the difference between being a tourist or a traveller. 

It’s okay to be a little bit of a tourist — I carry a camera, and had my photo taken with Frank in front of Monet’s waterlilies.  But I draw the line at riding in tour buses, pushing to the front of the line, paying too much and tipping to little, and ordering beer or wine in English. I mean, how hard is it to learn “vin rouge, s’il vous plait“?

Of course you know the difference between tourists and travellers.  Tourists are just there to see the highlights and get a photo or video, while travellers take a stab at the local language, relax in neighborhood coffee shops, drink beer in friendly pubs.  They adapt to the  pace of life wherever they are.  Just ask Black Belt Cyd, who lost weight and inches in Berlin, even while she was scarfing down the beer and…the beer (I made up that second part, but I bet I’m right!) because she was walking, walking, walking in Germany every day.

You never really know a place until you’ve walked the streets, seen the expressions in people’s eyes, eaten where they eat, and bought bread where they buy theirs. And if you’ve been to Paris you know — that ubiquitous baguette in everyone’s parcel at the end of the day is something they pick up on foot. 

Or should I say a pied?     

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