I'm sitting in a very small shop somewhere in downtown paris. The shop is maybe 350sqft and serves a variety of specialty teas. I happened upon the place while walking aimlessly through the streets. I flew into Paris this morning, waited in an endless line of customs, then took the train downtown. I told myself I was going to walk around and take pictures until I found something appealing. The joys of traveling alone - everything is entirely hedonistic. I see something I want, and I buy it.
It was wonderful chatting with the shop owner. He gave me some tips about Paris, and was extremely friendly. He talked in depth about some personal experiences regarding the recent Paris attacks, which was insightful as well as sobering. He recommended a cafe to visit and instructed me to go to the bars if I wanted to meet French people who would want to talk to me.
Walking the streets of Paris reminds me exactly of scenes from Inception, even the architecture is similar. I know I don't belong in Paris, and they know it, too, but I love it here. I haven't even seen the tourist-y things the city has to offer, and it's breathtaking. The view at the top of the escalator out of the subway was one of the largest gaps of air I've ever taken. The weather is perfect, and I'm wearing a flannel, scarf, and beanie. I didn't bring my colored pants on this trip for fear of exclaiming far too loudly, "HEY, I'M AMERICAN.", ....but I realize I just don't look french, or european, or anything that's not American. I've had a few awkward encounters already where I I can't remember on the spot how to say, "I don't speak french." in French, so it just comes out as a rather honest; "Yeah, I don't speak french - sorry."
The other thing I'm at odds with is whether I attempt to butcher simple pronunciations of french words like "Merci, pardon, and bonjour". I can say them, but I'm sure my american-french accent is so thick it probably sounds laughable. So is it better to just speak english, or embarrass myself with poor french? My first international trip is going wonderfully, and I haven't even had a pint yet... in Paris... I had quite a few in business class on the way here, but that's a 'whole-nother' blog post.