Friday, September 13, 2013

Paris for Newbies - Guest Blog

Sometimes you’re lucky enough to have your friends fall in love with each other. Sometimes you get really lucky and they write a guest blog from their trip to Paris. Such is the case below, as Michael Corcoran and Kathleen Hoye, have provided a special post about their recent visit to the City of Light.

Mike and Kathleen, or Corcoran and Hoye as I've known them (the former for almost 20 years and the latter for more than 10), are getting married. Yup, two of my closest friends got together, slipped into that mushy place filled with unicorns, rainbows and shirtless Milan Lucic posters they call love, and are currently staring down the barrel of forever, fixing to pull the trigger in a few months.

But before any of that can happen, they embarked on the tried and true tradition of testing a relationship through international travel (whether that was their intention or not). Nothing stresses a couple more than stepping into line at a cafĂ© and not knowing how to order a cheese sandwich, or attempting to cross a street with a neverending flood of homicidal vespas. On the other hand, nothing brings a couple closer than conquering a country together. There is usually a point during the trip where one begins a sentence in a foreign language and the other finishes it - this is not simpatico, but rather an example of how each of you only knows half of how to ask where the bathroom is. Regardless, those are the moments when you realize you've made the right choice, both in companion and travel destination. From that moment on, there are no photos or trinkets that can compare to the stories you share.

When Mike and Kathleen told me they were going to Paris,  I asked if they'd be willing to put together a guest blog about their experience. Mike had never left the U.S. (save for Canada and well, that just doesn't count) and Hoye, the avid travel bug that she is, ventures around the world frequently for work and pleasure. It is an interesting combination and I was interested to see how these two travel backgrounds would meld.

I could write a weekly series about my friendship with Corcoran and Hoye, both individually and as a couple (and maybe someday I will - I could see Pulitzer in that, or perhaps a Razzie). They are two of the most passionate people I know, intelligent and eager to consume the world around them. As someone who helped push them, not so gently, towards each other a few years ago, I was eager to hear about their first international opportunity to do just that.

Merci et bonne chance!

GUEST BLOG - by Kathleen Hoye and Michael Corcoran

We both love formage, vin rouge and pain au chocolat (cheese, red wine and chocolate croissants). That’s probably why we’re getting married. We both can appreciate the simple and wonderful things in life. We realized we enjoy them more when they’re consumed in early September in Paris. No talk of wedding plans or home improvements. We acted French and sat outside for long lunches and watched the world go by (in skinny jeans).

After some consulting with our travel guru’s Rick Steve’s and one “American Husband in Paris”, we were ready for a whirlwind three days in the City of Lights. We decided that we just wanted to stay in the city proper and crossed Versailles off of our list. (We’ve been to Newport, RI and toured the Breakers. It’s just the French version, right?) We had our priorities straight and decided to focus on the fine works of art and architecture and enjoying culinary delights.

Here are the highlights:

·         Night bike tour and boat ride with Fat Tire Tours – we peddled through the city like experts as the lights came on and made the days sights glow in a whole new way

·         Sainte Chapelle – pictures and postcards can’t do this place justice. It’s one of those places you just have to open your eyes, drop your jaw and try to memorize all the colors in your mind.

·         L’Orangerie Museum – better than Orsay. A great collection of Impressionist art that’s not too crowded. Huge murals of Monet’s Waterlilies make you feel like you’re not in the city, but surrounded by color’s they don’t have in the paint aisle at Home Depot.

·         Rue Cler – a great little neighborhood street where we went from formagerie to boulangerie to marchand de vin and gathered a delightful picnic in the park. It’s completely socially acceptable to drink wine straight from the bottle in a public park as long as it’s accompanied by a loaf of bread and chevre.

·         Taking it easy. No wonder the French are happy. Aside from nutella crepes, it’s expected that you will sit for lunch, eat it slowly and enjoy the company of the people sitting beside you. There is no rush. Bon appetite. (Despite our love of food, we both lost weight while in Paris as we walked everywhere and up everything.)

American observations:

·         Sushi and bagels in the same place? [insert photo]

·         We made a great effort to speak French, even though Kathleen couldn’t help but pronounce French words in Spanish (who drops the last consonant?). Our mercies, sil vou plaits and madames were plentiful and sincere. We noticed that most Americans didn’t even bother and figured out that’s why most people hate us.

·         The Americans with Disabilities Act doesn’t exist France. Come visit while you’re still able bodied. Join the gym so you can climb the 700 steps up to the second floor of the Tour Eiffel.

·         What’s with all of the Asian bride’s getting their photos taken surrounded by pigeons and tourists outside of Notre Dame?