Paris... I can't think of a better place to begin a vacation. My husband and I had booked a two week Rick Steves tour that started in Paris and ended in Rome. We had been to Europe several times before; this trip would be a sort of sampler of the highlights of France, Switzerland, Germany and Italy, some familiar sights and a lot that was new. We were looking forward to sitting back and enjoying the company and the scenery while someone else handled the details. And I had big plans for watercolor sketching, and speaking French (passably) and Italian (badly).
We had planned a few days in Paris before the trip started to get oriented and have more time to do some things we missed on the last trip. I didn't even try to paint on that first day: you arrive in the morning punch drunk from not having slept but exhilarated to finally be there.
On the second day I was more human. In the afternoon I was sitting on a bench in Parc de Tour St. Jaque, near the Hotel de Ville, trying to stay awake and to sketch. This sweet looking grey haired gentleman approached with a movie camera and gestured: could he film me? I nodded yes, and continued painting. When he was finished he smiled at me and said "Grazie". And I said, in Italian "I speak a little Italian." To which he responded, in Italian "Better than me", smiled and went on his way. So cool! Sitting in a park in Paris, painting and speaking Italian after I had been speaking French all day. This trip was off to a good start!