How do I begin an essay on a dream come true? It has been challenging to write this first blog entry since landing in Paris because I just can’t decide how to start. I’ve had so many thoughts and felt so many feelings in these first few days and while I know that many will make their way into my entries, I want my first musings to reflect how we felt on arriving in this beautiful city. Paris was under gray skies on the morning of September 7 as our taxi made its way towards our hotel (Hôtel Caron de Beaumarchais) in the Marais. Rather than jump up and down, shout “Bonjour, Paris!” and do a happy dance, we glided into the city of light and made a gentle entry into our gap year. We exchanged frequent smiles (in fact, we couldn’t stop grinning), continually asked each other, “are we really, actually here?” and gripped each other’s hands whenever not dealing with our substantial luggage. Our Paris arrival was comfortable and familiar. Perhaps when we reach cities that are new to us – like Granada, Sorrento and Berlin – the reality of our year abroad will feel more incredible. But for now, being in Paris for a month is quietly exciting, and as always, magical. It feels like home; it simply feels right.
We spent the first three nights in a hotel to catch up on sleep. This part of the plan worked beautifully since it allowed us to take the time we needed to deal with jet lag. On past visits, we’ve never really given ourselves an adequate number of days to get acclimated to the new time zone, knowing that our time here was limited. This time, however, we feel no rush at all with a full month in Paris ahead of us. We slept past or close to noon on a couple days (on a fait la grasse matinée, as the French say), took leisurely walks to research places for dinner and gave ourselves the time we needed to settle in. There were international phones and all our other electronics to figure out and we’ve made great strides. Posting our pictures to our Shutterfly website is still a work in progress, but we’re getting close. We’ve moved into our lovely but little apartment at 49 Avenue de Suffren, right around the corner from the Eiffel Tower in the 7th arrondissement, and after a full afternoon of unpacking and organizing, we were ready for food shopping and exploring our new neighborhood.