I long ago stopped wearing a wristwatch, and when I arrived in Paris my smartphone — which has been my primary time-telling device for some years now — was out of network and not working.
As a result, I’ve spent the last few days wandering this lovely city, happily oblivious to the time. Richard has a wristwatch, and there are clocks in the apartment we’re renting that we can check if we absolutely have to be somewhere by a specific time. There are even occasional clocks along the routes of our travels, like this beautiful clock found on one of the government buildings on the Ile de la Cite.
For the most part, however, we’ve been moving in response to our own internal rhythms, not the dictates of some infernal machine. We’re eating when we’re hungry, drinking when we’re thirsty, and resting when we’re tired. We know the sun goes down around 5 p.m. (We don’t really know what time the sun rises, because we’ve been sleeping late.) And we know when, after a long day of sightseeing, strolling, and eating some fine meals, it’s time to go to bed.
One of the real pleasures about this kind of trip is not being slave to a clock.
After we left the Eiffel Tower we walked along the Seine, crossed over, and explored the temporary holidays wonderland built on each side of the boulevard. As in prior days it was packed with people.
To satisfy my holiday craving we bought some warm roast chestnuts from a street vendor. You eat them by peeling off the brittle outer shell then munching on the soft white nut. They are somewhat bland, but not bad.
We washed them down with piping hot glasses of spiced wine. In Paris, apparently, there are no concerns about people being injured by hot beverage spills; the glasses were filled to the rim with steaming liquid and so blazing hot that I had to put my gloves on to hold the plastic cup. It was a fine, warming concoction on a chilly evening.
There was a skating rink set up along the way, with dance music pumping, somewhat cheesy Christmas decorations on display, and skaters flying by. We stopped to enjoy the spectacle and sip our wine before heading home.
Last night we decided to go to the Eiffel Tower to get a good look at the famous structure up close and illuminated. It’s a corny tourist move, no doubt, and we ate in a classic “tourist trap” restaurant that survives not because of the quality of its food but because of its close proximity to the Tower. Lots of other tourists were milling around the Tower, also unable to resist the temptation to revel in its glowing, spidery, nighttime beauty. When you are around the Eiffel Tower in the evening, it’s a magnetic object, and it’s almost impossible to tear your eyes away.