If you have a baby in a stroller, find ye some cobblestones. It’s the 5th century trick to making exploring enjoyable for everybody.
With Frankie’s grandad in town and a day off, we went looking for a little bit of history without a giant car ride — I’d say the site of the earliest European evidence of human life is pretty olden timey, give or take 500,000 years.
Lest you think my stunning iPhotography is faulty and the sky is blown out, nope. That’s the color you see when you look up, nearly always. It’s almost like life is hung on some kind of studio backdrop, or a paint chip from the “Whisper Grey” family.
Against that backdrop is an Old Town in what St. Wiki says is the “baroque” style — which I will just call the “Ooh, look how neat down there!” fashion.
There is a lot of 21st century tucked among the ancient — a Starbucks, an H&M, and a bunch of Alessi-esque housewares stores that demanded a quick look (and a few grandad-treasures for Frankie.)
We had lunch at Strohauer’s Cafe, where the proprietor was lovely and kind about the convoy of strollers and packs and snowsuits we lugged in for one tiny girl, and walked to the end of the Hauptstraße.
Frankie had a few admirers who asked how old she was, and though I have to count under my breath until I get to the right number, I did manage, “drei Monate.”
A tiny sliver of blue peeked through the grey after a successful stop at a little, hidden bakery for some crusty dinner rolls, and we noted a sushi restaurant for future trips.
In all, a nice afternoon in Heidelberg, found.
Of course, everyone I know has flawless taste and posts only the most interesting, funny, and beautiful things on the internet. The difference between someone who does that, and a “work outfit mirror selfie with toilet in the background,” or a “bowl of something that has to taste better than ‘amorphous brown’” or even your more ubiquitous “pale feet with ocean in the background” is that one filter — the one that matters more than “Early Bird” even.
The stuff you Did Not Post.
Let the record of the internet show that I have committed all of these (well, except the bathroom shot. I do not get that.) But I try to do good works. And yet, where’s the “Favorite” star, the “like” or the little heart for all the stuff you spared people from?
So I made a thing, for everyone with flawless taste to get credit for, that which they Did Not Post. (And maybe editorialize on the opposite.)
So next time you skip posting a pic of “Cold saucepan of buckwheat cereal made with coconut milk and protein powder” #DidNotPost, you can tell everyone exactly what they’re not missing. Hashtag, follow, play along?
Fun. And credit where credit’s sorely due.
If the sun is always destined to “come out tomorrow,” it might as well make it a show.
Laundry day can mean something ugly — hauling, and quartering, and waiting at the Schlep-o-mat — and maybe dressing like an unloved scarecrow in the only garments not already stuffed in Mt. Hamper.
But in a very few magical places, even laundry day is sprinkled with Saturday best.
We took the train into Venice, because a beautiful fall day means even fewer excuses not to. Even if you think you’ve been before, it’s a maze that guarantees you’ll find an alley you’ve never walked down, a bridge you’ve never crossed, and a plate of fiery pasta all’arribiata that you’ll be glad you asked them to make special.
And you’ll be floored as always that this city runs in carts and ambulance boats and high wires of clothes strung over canals and courtyards, and you’ll watch a kid very seriously play-washing his toy car with a dry sponge — the only vehicle with wheels allowed.
When the regular details of living in a city look as marvelous as this, it’s easy to see why people plan years to come visit — and why if you’re lucky enough to live less than an hour away, you shouldn’t let the regular details of your own life make you put it off.
After all, your own laundry will still be there tomorrow.
Not orange like Prince Harry (HRH the Terrace Kitty, not the HRH Oops Naughty Bits) though he could be included too. My Prince Harry takes his meals al fresco twice a day and has treats separate from the step cats. Nice things from this week, in hues of punchy warm.
Orange like “Just Because [you’re so tired you think you might implode like a Supernova]” flowers that brought some cheerful at exactly the right time.
Orange like novelty-spelling cloth diapers that showed up in the mail. You can “Oh, just you wait,” and you might be right, but we’re going to give it a go. It’s the least we can do really, attempting not to turn the whole planet into that patch of garbage in the ocean.
Orange like the fruit bowl. If yours doesn’t have disco balls in it, your fruit might not be having enough fun. I don’t really have any cravings other than I can tolerate fruit now, when I really had no time for it before — and ice in my drinks. All beverages must now be the temperature of an Arctic ice floe before Al Gore invented global warming, see above.
Okay, fine. Orange like Harry.
All four years of high school, two years of college, and my only viewing of the movie Back to the Future in it, and my French didn’t tumble as fluently all weekend as it did at the airport coming home.
My suitcase was securitized, thanks to a 1.5 litre bottle of Perrier I had put inside because I like to make my life challenging, and all of a sudden I had paragraphs. “I forgot, I’m so sorry, that’s the only liquid I promise.”
I speak the French of apologies.
I remember my last trip, finding the Tower, buying tulips for 45 francs, going inside the Notre Dame — but I missed a lot. I know a whole song about the Champs-Élysées, but I’d never walked down it until last weekend.
The song is fairly accurate. Especially the parts that go, “hmm, hmm, de hm-huh uh, LE CHAMPS ELYSEES.”
I only ended up with one souvenir.
A footie-sleeper onesie deal with tiny baby birds on it. It’s a cute story someday I suppose. “Yes, you’ve been to Paris sort of, and you used to fit into this Petit Bateau jammie romper from the fancy street.”
We both shopped. But Ryan shopped for crepes.
I did not climb nearly as many stairs in 1995, either. To the second level of the Tower, and up to the Sacre Coeur from the 18th arrondissement.
And not doing Paris by tour bus, you get to see all the neighborhoods. We had breakfast one morning in the 7th, and I managed to order off guard and sans menu. Apologies and bread, covered.
There’s a deliberateness, an intentionality, and an appreciation for presentation that makes everything seem special.
Flowers for sale, arranged as if the sidewalk were the finest parlor.
And fruit displayed like a still life in the Louvre.
That is Paris to me. Making the every day, an event.
(And yes, he ate them. When in Rome that isn’t Rome. He had to listen to my retelling of the escargot scene from Pretty Woman though.)
The very best thing about visiting a city, is window watching. Sure, you can people watch — wonder about the old man walking home with his baguette and his chien, or the woman on the Metro about your age with her conservative hosiery and list of tasks from work, and muse what their lives might be like-
But windows let you muse what your life would be like. A window, especially if you can’t see inside, could belong to anyone. It could belong to you.
What would your life be like if you lived on that fourth floor above a bustling Sunday market, or behind that window box around the corner from the Eiffel Tower, or beyond one of those identical squares in a grid of homes the train rushes by, again, and again.
It’s not about the real estate, the apartment is just a canvas. It’s about the possibility.
It’s about who you would be if that window was yours.
What’s it called when you can navigate like a champ with no ability to judge distance? Whatever it is, I have that.
Once, the Bro came to visit me in D.C. I probably inadvertently tricked him into walking 17 miles with the simple and unwavering answer to “How far is it from here?” “Mmm. Two blocks?” Just because you can see the Capitol from the Lincoln Memorial doesn’t mean it isn’t three miles.
And just because the Notre Dame looks like it’s just around the river bend from the Eiffel Tower, doesn’t mean precisely the same thing. By the time we finally got there, my tour consisted of “LOOK. BUTTRESSES. Can we get dinner now?”
(I also tried to break the internet by taking Instagrams of macarons in Paris. Did it work?)
The two best things spotted today:
A man having a birthday, getting sung to, two tables over at lunch. The little girl at the table in between decided he needed a gift, turned around, leaned over the back of the banquette, and presented him with a frite from her plate. He ate it.
And a very soignée woman, silver hair wrapped like a cloud, in a turquoise suit, sitting at an outdoor table smoking an absolutely enormous cigar.
Honorable mention, Ryan’s face after tasting crème brûlée. “Can you make this?” “It requires a blow torch.” “Perfect. I have one in the garage.”