This is a post by Alka, my sister about our recent trip to Paris.
My sister bullied me to take a holiday with her last year. We went to Budapest, capital of Hungary. Now we have mutually decided to take a holiday together every year. We kept on discussing various destinations and zeroed in on Belgrade. It seemed like a stunning place. But somehow things didn’t work out. And suddenly my sis sprang out a surprise for me, “Lets go to Paris!” Who in his/her right mind would refuse that destination? So Paris it was for us.
We had to take a flight on the night on November, 20th. It was Tuesday. My heart sank a bit. I had to get up early to take my daughter to her music class. My day was to start early. And whole night and next day would be spent in flight. But I kept aside my apprehensions and geared myself for the daily routine. It exactly turned out like I had imagined. I reached airport extremely tired. But when we boarded the flight, I kept everything aside. We reached Kuwait within a few hours and had to board another flight for Paris.
After landing in Paris and reaching the hotel, we tried calling home. I had purchased a plan in India and the network refused to work. It left me quite frustrated. We had packed Aloo and Gobhi paranthas with us for sometimes you don’t wish to go search for food after a long tiring flight. We gobbled it in our hotel room with pickles and our plan was to catch up on sleep. But my non working sim kept irritating me. I called my husband and like a knight in the shining armor, he got down to resolving the issue. Innumerable to and fro calls were made (using the hotel wifi), screen shots sent and received. Forms were filled and saved. It took more than two hours but my data plan finally started working.
But it threw our sleeping plan out of the room’s beautiful window. We were both wide awake now. We agreed to venture out of our hotel room and get a feel of our corner of Paris. Within few minutes, we were out on the
Rue de Crimée, a beautiful street, away from the tourist hub!
This time, we were staying in a residential area, unlike Budapest. So pavements were full of life. I saw kids zoom past us on their scooty. Mothers were out with kids to do some chores. If you don’t want to do an European tour of five countries in 10 days, try to stay near a residential area to get the local feel. You will not be disappointed. What caught my eyes first was charming little bakery shops. They looked so enticing and inviting. Next was bars and cafes. They were doing brisk business in the evening. We were walking and trying to spot a cafe, for which Paris is so famous for. My sis later even went to one, which Victor Hugo frequented!!
We entered one charming little cafe cum bar Le Cadre Noir. And what a nice choice it was, cozy, comforting, warm and with a terrific hostess. Later on we came to know about her name, she is Monica. She was bouncy, energetic, warm and a welcoming person . Her energy was infectious. You can’t remain unaffected. I think hospitality institutes can learn a thing or two from her. For the first time, I had black coffee with an out of this world desert, served together as coffee gourmand . Its taste is still in my mouth. What a wonderful start we had to our trip.
And we ended our trip from this cafe. When my sis told Monica that it was our last day in Paris, she took pictures with us, sent one of customers to meet us, who spoke Hindi and not to forget, gave us a platter of coffee gourmand!
That is hospitality, French style!! No doubt, we had a wonderful sleep after coming back to hotel.
Alka and I went to Budapest together in November 2017. It was our first trip together as adults! We also left behind our family to take the break. We wanted to make it a yearly affair and I am happy to say that we went to Paris this November! I am keeping my fingers crossed for the next year too.
As this was the second trip, comparisons were bound to arise. But every trip is unique, Paris is Paris and Budapest is Budapest. But that wonderful feeling of going on a holiday with your sister was exactly the same!
This year Alka had a grand idea- that we both will wear sari and click pictures. The last time I wore a sari must have been 2004 or 2005 (and it is not a typo) as I used to work in a college where it was compulsory to wear a sari on the convocation. But I left that job in 2005. Before that I wore it at my own wedding!
In the end Alka could not manage a blouse for herself and I was the only candidate left with this grand scheme! I resisted it, I anyway don’t like getting clicked unless I am jumping from a cliff or something like that!
But if anyone could have convinced me, it is Alka. I managed to push it till the last day! But on the last day, there she was, and I could come up with nothing to dissuade her!
So on a cold cold day in Paris I was wearing a sari and going around in the metro trains! It attracted a ton of attention! But it was OK.
Once I wear a sari, I can deal with it though I can’t tie it completely on my own. But it didn’t take much time for Alka and I to get it done together. It was anyway mostly her doing.
I am totally stiff when it comes to posing for pictures. I was giving Alka a tough time, till I decided to jump, in a sari and all at the Louvre! After that I somehow lost some of my inhibition and enjoyed getting clicked, to the extent I can enjoy it!
My initial proposition was that we would click around the hotel as the day was way too cold to roam around in a sari even with an overcoat. But as Louvre was on the same metro line as ours, Alka convinced me to go up to the Louvre at least.
Another interesting thing is I am the one who likes to take pictures but this time Alka was behind the camera. The camera was the brand new Canon EOS M50 which I had on loan from Canon India. It is a mirrorless camera and I was keen to try it out on this trip.
And somehow from Louvre we hopped on to Bir Hakeim which is a cool bridge with an excellent vantage point of Eiffel Tower!
Alka wanted us to go near the Eiffel Tower too but by then I had enough. It was cold and it was drizzling. The sari was getting wet at the hem and I was finally getting uncomfortable. She readily agreed when I said I wanted to go back to the hotel and change!
Will I do it again? I think I have no choice on a holiday that I take with Alka. Was it fun? Yes it was and it was a little bit of madness too, going around in sari on an overcast cold day with temperature at 6 degree Celsius! But then what is travel without a little madness, particularly when you are traveling with your sister!
PS. Even though this was a personal trip, there were two collaborations that I need to mention. The France Tourism Board provided us with two 6 day travel cards for public transpor and 2 Museum Passes for 4 days; I had the M50 on loan from Canon India. A big thank you to both of them.
I am Mridula Dwivedi, I love to travel! I started my travel blog in 2005. I have been going places since! For more details do check out my media kit! In another life I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur. I was a professor when I quit my job in 2015.
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