Thursday, October 15, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary last Friday! I can’t believe it’s been year since we got married at San Francisco City Hall. What a year it has been: one marriage, one MCP graduation, and a move across the pond -- talk about one very eventful year!
Keenan and I kept to the tradition of giving a specific gift on a specific anniversary year, so to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, we gave each other paper as anniversary gifts. Yes, paper. And yes, you’ve guessed it – we got paper train tickets on board the Eurostar to Paris!

Ah, beautiful Paris. I love cities! I can’t help it -- I’m an urban planner by training. Perhaps no other city has been theorized, (de)constructed, studied, and (re)studied in modern history than the French capital Paris. In my class The City: Theories and Methods of Urban Studies, I must have read a dozen texts on Paris including Paris Spleen and Les Yeux des Pauvres, both poems by Charles Baudelaire; Paris, Capital of Modernity by David Harvey; The Arcades Project by Walter Benjamin, among others (my planner friends can add to this list). We’ve both been to Paris in the past, but not together, so I was excited to see Paris in a new light, and with Keenan of course.
Ah, beautiful Paris – how I adore thee. There are many ways to enjoy Paris – you can eat your way through the Paris, max out your credit card along Champ Elysées, or spend your entire weekend in the Louvre. Ah, beautiful Paris – how I adore thee. But for me, the best part of Paris is the city itself. When in Paris, you can’t help but to be a flâneur­, a term borrowed from Baudelaire to mean “one who walks the city in order to experience it,” and this was exactly what we did the entire weekend; we enjoyed Paris as Paris was meant to be enjoyed.

The train ride from London St. Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord was quick and easy. The Eurostar is simply brilliant. We pulled into Paris in the morning and made our way to Montmatre (where Amelie was filmed) for brunch of croque monsieur and omelette. It’s a really artsy neighborhood and fun place to people watch. We dropped off our bags at the hotel near Arc de Triomphe and started exploring the beautiful City of Lights. We spent most of Saturday on the Left Bank and took a long walk from the Eiffel Tour, along the Sienne River, to the classically Parisian neighborhood of St. Germain-des-Pres and then to the Latin Quarter, the intellectual quarter of Paris and home to France’s oldest university, Le Sorbonne.

Keenan and I had a wonderful meal at L’Epigramme (Metro: Odeon, 6e), one of many exquisite Parisian bistrots. This bistro was not terribly expensive; it was 30 Euros for a three-course meal. Small, quaint, and a hidden gem in a very desirable neighborhood. We had a surreal encounter during dinner at L’Epigramme. Keenan made reference to a nice elderly couple seated next to us in a restaurant; they were the couple who also inquired about our scallops and foie gras in his last post. Well, we started small talk in “typical American fashion” with this older couple, and it turned out that the gentlemen was the former boss of the current CEO of Keenan’s company. Yikes! Better be on our A game! We looked him up on the web later, and opps, we better hoped we were on our A+ + game. Not only does he run a successful boutique investment firm, but he was also former Deputy Mayor of Economic Development for NYC under Mayor Koch. How surreal!

The next morning, we had a strange craving for Vietnamese pho. My sister mentioned a place in Chinatown (14th e) with bright purple fluorescent lights called Pho Banh Cuon 14, so we went and got our pho fix. I expected my pho to be spectacular judging by the long queue, but I was disappointed…I still like my Stockton Blvd pho in Sacramento better. After lunch, we strolled through Le Marais district, the Old Jewish Quarter, Paris’ gay district, and a hip neighborhood full of urbanites. We liked the Marais district quite a bit and will definitely stay here on our next trip to Paris. We spent the rest of the afternoon on the Right Bank around the Louvre, Place de Concorde, and the Champ Elysee – very touristy, I know! I can’t help it; I haven’t been to Paris since 2004. Keenan was here five months ago on business, so he was perfectly okay sipping café au lait or red wine in a hip bar in Le Marais. We had an early dinner and headed to Gare du Nord to catch the last train back to home sweet home London. We had a lovely weekend in Paris. Already looking forward to our next trip!

Thank you all for the wonderful anniversary wishes! Cheers to many more!
Love, L + K

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