I’m Back! And I’m off to France

07/12/12 I’m Back! And I’d Like You to Meet Paris. [written 01/13/13]

City of lights. City d’amour.

I’d be lying if I pretend that I had left Venice without a second glance. In fact, I gave it a fair share of glances. This was no hush-hush Karenina-Vronsky affair: I’d fallen head over heels with the waterside city and am now blogging to the world about it. I kept my eyes trained on Santa Lucia Station, quickly receding and disappearing altogether as our Milan-bound train hummed across the Via Libertà (Freedom Bridge), which connects Venice to the mainland, and snaked into the Italian countryside. While my acquaintance with it was short, the City of Canals had left a visceral impression on my young traveler’s heart.

Now our Trenitalia train is speeding North, and we had two stopovers: one at Milan and another at Torino Porta Susa. Milan is reputed to have the best coffee in the world. Rumour tried and tested on cappuccino ordered at a station kiosk. Verdict: head to a real café. It’s a shame we didn’t get to grab some really great coffee because I later found out that Milan was where Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz first formulated the concept of launching US espresso bars. On top of that we could have feasted our eyes on Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” original fresco in the Church of Santa Maria della Grazie or scaled the magnificent Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral), a massive structure that tops Italy’s list of largest Gothic cathedrals which took six centuries to complete!

Torino is closer to the Italy-France border and here we boarded the TGV train bound for Paris via Lyons. This train was much faster and more fully occupied too. I was both embarrassed and proud of myself when a French lady telling me that she had reserved my seat understood my “vous avez réservé ce siege? Ah, je suis désolée, Madame!” Cue mentally toasting myself for taking GCSE French and merci beaucoup Madame Couturier for bearing with my class! Here comes a full-blown oral exercise simulation-free! By the time we finally pulled into le Gare du Nord Paris, I had grown accustomed to the buzz and banter in rapid French voices all around me. Indeed, I never stopped feeling bursts of excitement whenever I caught on to a word or phrase I can comprehend. (To be continued.)

P.S. I’m sincerely sorry for my monthlong absence! I had intended to return in mid-December but was too busy indulging in winter break. I hope you have not forsakened me yet… But since you are reading this right now I dare say I have hope. Thank you 🙂

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