I began my travels on 1/1/2015 with the goal of traveling for five years, and reaching my 100th. country within that time period. Five years was chosen because of the original Star Trek’s five year mission parameter, and 100 seemed like a good, substantive round number.
If there has been any guiding principle to my travels thus far, it would have to be the arts. Fine arts, music, architecture, local and pop culture, cinema, design, and cuisine have presented myriad manifestations which change from region to region within individual countries.
Since my voyage began I have visited Paris at least once per year. I’ve been especially looking forward to this years visit since I will be celebrating my 100th. country landmark in my favorite city on earth, and that will take place in the restaurant seen below. It is most apropos for the occasion as it symbolizes travel in that it is housed in a railway station.
Le Train Bleu – Belle epoque restaurant in the Gare de Lyon
If you doubt that this restaurant is in a train station, take note of the brass luggage racks above the banquette seating.
Life is a sumptuous buffet for the world traveler. Here in Paris you can follow the footsteps of great artists, writers, or kings by day, and in the evening dine at a Belle Epoch restaurant in a train station where the paintings, gilding, and baroque woodwork would make Louis XIV feel right at home. It’s essentially a little palace in a train station where you can dine for less than a king’s ransom. Paris never fails to surprise. Rest assured, the aforementioned Le Train Bleu restaurant in the Gáre de Lyon is not my typical dining experience. Much like the occasional four-star hotel, these indulgences are much more infrequent than my litany of low cost lodgings and inexpensive meals.
Many of the hostels in Europe have been delightful, leading to friendship and adventure. Also inexpensive food in strange lands can yield great value, variety and tasty results. An amazing meal in a European city need not require a lot of cash or a Michelin Star, even in Paris. In addition to dining, there is a top class hostel in a super location that offers a bed in a two bed dorm for $45 a night with an ensuite bathroom. Add on dining, sightseeing and a metro pass, and you can enjoy the City of Lights for less than a weekend in Vegas. In Las Vegas you might end up with a cheap room in the Paris Hotel with its spurious Eiffel Tower and other not quite so French accoutrements. Wouldn’t it be better to see the real thing instead of wandering around a cultural black hole in the middle of the desert? If you happen to be a gambler you could even lose that trip to Paris in the first few hours. So come to the real City of Lights instead since I believe wholeheartedly that everyone on earth should visit Paris at least once in their lives.
So if prolonged travel or even short term travel have seemed out of reach, there are many ways to make these things much more accessible. If you approach things from the mentality of a world traveler your costs will plummet. I always looked at travel expenses through the lens of a once yearly, please the wife, over the top extravaganza complete with shopping spree. Obviously using this metric forced me to dismiss out of hand the possibility of the kind of travel that I wanted to do.
Figure out what type of thinking prevents you from realizing your dreams of travel. Every fear or argument you have likely has a solution. Start small. You will find that there are hundreds of travel blogs that address the needs of literally all kinds of travelers and the challenges they might face. Choose the destination that best suits your maiden voyage. It might be the country of origin of your family, a city you’ve always dreamed of visiting or just a place that has always resonated with you. Then just plan out your time according to your tastes, and set a budget for your trip. I call this travel foreplay, and with a travel guide and/or Google, it can be an enjoyable experience that yields fantastic results. It is so fulfilling to find little gems during your research only to have them exceed expectations upon arrival.
Most people dream of more travel and adventure in their lives. The majority of deathbed regrets involve people’s deep remorse over not having traveled more in their lives. I decided not to become one of those, and that my granddaughters would have an interesting Grandpa to tell them real tales of adventure using my blog as an all purpose bedtime story. My grandkids will be regaled with tales of strange creatures, giant caves, dragon festivals, bizarre foods and beautiful castles which will hopefully inspire their own dreams of travel. If they start to get bored with my yarns, I can always tell them about evil taxi drivers or the malevolent Croatian who tried to run me down with a giant bus (pictures included).
As usual I make a bee line for the Saint-Michel metro stop. As you can see from the wall, the place is still torn up. I was here six months ago, and there has been no progress.
Thankfully the art nouveau entrance is at street level is in good shape.
So is my omelette as I watch the world go by on the Boulevard Saint-Michel.
The Jardins des Luxembourg are much warmer and pleasant than when I was here in March.
C3P0 & CHEWBACCA – BY THE STREET ARTIST SPACE INVADER
RUE MOUFFETARD MARKET
L’ILOT VACHE – A charming restaurant on the Isle St. Louis filled with flowers, good food and happy diners. I’ve been coming here for almost twenty years.
MAGRET DE CANARD – IN RASBERRY SAUCE
CROSSING THE BRIDGE TO THE ISLE DE LA CITE
WALKING OFF A LITTLE BIT OF THAT DUCK DINNER
LATIN QUARTER – FRIDAY NIGHT
CARROUSEL DU LOUVRE – UNDERGROUND SHOPPING MALL ADJACENT TO THE LOUVRE
MY ADVICE WOUD BE TO SKIP THE LOUVRE, CHECK OUT THE STORES, AND WALK TO THE MUSÉE D’ORSAY INSTEAD. THAT WILL AFFORD YOU A NICE STROLL THROUGH THE TUILERIES, AND YOU WILL STILL HAVE AMPLE TIME FOR THE ORANGERIE’S AMAZING MONETS JUST A SHORT WALK AWAY. THE MUSÉE D’ORSAY OFFERS A COMBO TICKET FOR BOTH MUSEUMS AT A REDUCED RATE SO YOU WILL SAVE TIME AND MONEY AND AVOID THE HORRENDOUS CROWDS AT THE LOUVRE. YOU CAN ALWAYS ENJOY THE BUILDING FROM THE OUTSIDE.
JARDIN DE TUILERIES
A PORTION OF THE LOUVRE
THE SAILBOATS ARE BACK IN THE TUILERIES!
EGYPTIAN OBELISK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PLACE DE LA CONCORDE
ARC DE TRIOMPHE
Quentin GAREL – Vertebrata – 2016