It’s Saturday and we’re making lunch at home, watching the World Cup. He says, “just think, four years ago we were sitting in Paris watching France’s opening match. It was your first time out of the country and now we’ve been to seven continents.”
It was our last day in Paris. And it coincided with France’s opening match in the World Cup. It was a happy coincidence when we planned the trip but we were excited to cap it off that way.
We were on our way back to Paris for one night after traveling elsewhere. We had just enough time to land, drop our bags at the airport hotel, then take the train into Paris for the evening. The mission? Find some place to watch the World Cup.
The plane was on time. Our airport shuttle did not come. I fought with a pay phone then an expensive call on my cell phone. Our airport shuttle did not exist. Walking to the other side of a gargantuan airport, we were travel newbs carrying too many clothes. And a case of champagne. Finally to our hotel, finally back out and on the train, finally back in what had instantly become our favorite city.
We picked a little cafe across from our original hotel on rue des Écoles. The waitress eyed us suspiciously. The rest of the tables were full of French, passing around face paint. Surely us foreigners weren’t intending on taking up a table to order a meal while everyone was trying to watch the World Cup? We sat. We ordered our drinks before the match started. All set.
The game wasn’t great but I’ll always remember them pounding the tables and cheering “Allez les bleus!” I remember the waitress treating us a little more kindly after it was clear that we were there for the game and did not bother her for more wine until halftime. I’ll remember the dad with his kid at the table next to us, the dad having to cut up the French version of a hot dog his kid was eating. Parents cutting up hot dogs for kids — it’s international.
Pit stop for an ice cream and staring at Notre Dame at night, then back to the train. In the train station, read enough French to know the train stopped going to the airport early due to maintenance. Understand enough mass transit to know the gamble of a bus bridge, take the gamble. Thankfully the buses are there when we get to the last stop. However, the buses don’t drop us off at the airport train station, just some random airport stop. We argue with a cab driver to get us back to our hotel.
And just like that, capped off with the World Cup, our trip was over. His first time off the continent. My first time out of the country. Four years ago. Measuring my life by major world events is a favorite pastime. Oh yeah, and USA, USA!!