It is a rainy morning in Paris and the hubby and kids have gone to the local boulangerie for the morning bread and pastries, giving me time to reflect on the past week since our departure from Sydney.
As we passed through numerous airport terminals and the scenery changed before us, we have been continuously pinching ourselves to check our reality: are we actually at the very beginning of our year-long adventure?
So far travel is bringing out the best in the usually fractious siblings. Their excitement at seeing and experiencing so many new things is making them surprisingly harmonious and cooperative. I guess they only have each other to share this, and failing that, the ipod and ipad are working a treat during the slow periods.
Singapore was a fantastic stopover for some rest and recreation on the way to Europe. Although we were craving the warmth of the tropics, we were happy to leave it behind after two very sticky days. Our children were not genetically built for the tropics.
In Singapore we marveled at the architectural follies of the millionaires’ playground at Marina Bay Sands and we adored the pockets of old Singapore in Little India and Haji Lane. The hustle and bustle of this area was a little taste of Asia for hubby and kids’ first visit.
We had the best southern Indian vegetarian tali and dosai while the kids ate Singapore chicken rice at the local food hall. At the famous Mustafa Department Store in Little India, we bought $20 watches for the kids so they could each grasp the concept of time zones as we zigzag our way around the world and they have to wind the dials to the new time on their analogue watches.
What we really enjoyed about Singapore was the cultural diversity we experienced from Malay Muslims, Chinese Singaporeans and Tamils plus the various other expat nationalities. It was also a safe and easy place to transition into travel mode illustrated by the time hubby left his iphone on the water taxi and someone ran after us to return it.
Thank you for a great time Singapore!
And now Paris!!
Part of me rolls my eyes at the cliché of Paris. I admit it was not my choice to come here given that I harboured a few prejudices against the French – their attachment to class snobbery, proclivity for adultery and obsession with physical appearance. Now that we are here however, thanks to the hubby and son’s fascination with all things French, I am being charmed by this place. The quaintness and beauty of the city and the spectacular hospitality of Edouard, whose beautiful apartment we are renting on Rue de Notre Dame de Nazareth, are winning me over, not to mention the food, history and art.
Edouard who is an actor, left us a fully stocked fridge and pantry and all the comforts of his home while he went to stay with friends in “les banlieues”. Luckily my French is still accessible somewhere in my brain as he doesn’t speak a word of English. I am enjoying speaking French again and being able to converse with Parisians in their language.
Yesterday we visited the Pompidou Centre and the Notre Dame while still in a jetlagged haze and today our 9-year-old guide has decided that we will visit the Louvre and the Jardins Tuileries. Having a Francophile son has meant fewer decisions for the adults as we just follow his lead. C’est formidable!
You should have seen us in the shops yesterday, salivating over the magnificent pastries, yoghurts, cheeses and summer fruits. The strawberries, tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella and basil tasted so fine, I was sure that someone had tampered with them. J’aime la France!
I have even convinced myself that the women who look me up and down on the street are not judging me harshly for my poor dress sense, merely admiring how great I look today. Such is the positivity of the first stage of an adventure, my prejudices are melting away.