I was so determined to remain unimpressed. Despite my characteristic impatience, I managed to cope quite well with the seemingly interminable countdown until I would grace the shiny St Pancras International with my presence. Girlfriend in tow for our first official ‘couple’ holiday (pathetically only our first in the three years we’ve been together). Nonchalant as only a Londoner faced with a competing metropolis could be, I was all about the minimum fuss experience, about as far from my previous business travel whirlwind as I could imagine.
Straight up? It’s gorgeous. Stunning, magnificient and breathtaking. I am very quickly running out of superlatives and most days I struggle to conjure up even one. Perfect for walking around, surprisingly easy to navigate by public transport and we had the sort of crisp late winter weather than means that only the onset of mild frostbite could force us back indoors.
No stereotypical rudeness, an abundance of English speakers to meet us where the Higher French began to fail and a perfect set of experiences, each in their own romantic or comedic bubble that seems indelibly part of my memory slideshow.
In the end we dodged the favoured tourist pursuit of queuing. We did contemplate a synchronised shuffle round the Louvre, but the endless snaking miles of people at the Eiffel Tower settled our decision to focus on the more superficial, the wide-angle lens for our weekend. Well, that and K’s abject fear of heights could only be nobly suppressed for so long.
The buzz, the music, the hustle and bustle and godsent pizza down a side street, it really was a wrench to drag ourselves back to Gare du Nord. Overall, the most delicious part for me was the unfamiliar experience of relinquishing control. Other than wielding my map-reading-fu expertly, I let K do the talking and the deciding of pretty much everything and I actually relaxed for the first time in Jaysus knows how long. I suppose that’s what holidays are for!