Bonjour Paris, et Au Revoir

Two nights in Paris. Lovely not-so-little City.

I caught the Eurostar train from London to Paris. I was sitting next to a very surly and generally unpleasant woman who looked at me like I was the biggest inconvenience in the world when I boarded the train. So, a very quiet couple of hours listening to my music and reading my book was pleasant enough.

Upon arriving in Gare du Nord in Paris I looked on a map to try and find my hotel, which was a 5-10 min walk from the station. How long did it take me? One one long bloody hour. I passed 3 Ibis hotels before I finally found my one. It was hot and I was sweating profusely, carrying my stuff, but I got there and hopped into the shower.

I have ex-student Patrick Burfitt a call on Skype to organise a time to meet and grab some dinner. Pat was in my tutor group and we had a very strong relationship. He’s currently in Paris on holiday.

We had some food and a long talk and headed back to our respective accommodations. I figured out how to work the air conditioner and got some sleep.

The next day I met up with two more of friends from Maynooth, Thomas and Rabab. We met at midday and the day was hot and sunny. I think this was the third day in this whole trip that actually felt like Summer.

Once again I was overwhelmed with memories when I saw these two people. The last time I saw them was in Ireland at the end of 2003.

And so we walked, and walked, and walked. Thomas, being from Paris, knew where to take me. We went up to a basilica that boasts the best view on Paris of Paris. Thomas explained that this was the only hill in the city. The view was something else.

Afterwards weer decided to go have s beer and lunch and that’s when the catching up started.

I ate some snails (because, why not do it while I’m in Paris?) and a seafood dish and we all recounted our lives over the past ten years.

A particularly big bombshell from Thomas I think cemented the trust between us and it was seriously like nothing had changed between us over the years.

We continued or walk and got on the metro to go see Notre Dame. It was stiflingly packed. And when we arrived at the cathedral, the long line to enter the church was far too long so we decided to go find a cafe to have a coffee instead.

Rabab then left us to make her long journey home and Thomas and I wandered around for another couple of hours. We walked through/past the Louvre and I took the obligatory selfie…

And we eventually settled down for a beer in a corner cafe on a busy road.

Here Thomas and I got into deep and meaningful conversations, ranging from relationships to literature, to spirituality. We reflected on the very nature of our friendship and the ease with which we were able to connect again after so many years. It was a really nice afternoon and I really felt connected to him in that moment.

Thomas walked me back to my hotel where we said our goodbyes.

I couldn’t help but reflect on my weeks so far here in Europe, seeing the old gang from Maynooth. The common experience has been this: we pick up so easily where we left off all those years ago. A tiny bit of awkwardness at first is quickly replaced with genuine pleasure of being with old friends.

And so now I’m in a train to Amsterdam, the last destination of my trip before I fly home on Thursday. I think it’sv fitting that the last two friends in visiting from our days in Ireland are the first two friends I made there.

Bring it on.

9 July 2013. 12:44

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