I have never been out of the country. The U.S. of A. is the country I am referring to. I have visited several places in the U.S., mostly the South where my parents were born. I have never ventured outside North America. Finally getting close to making a big milestone in my life, I decided it was time to travel out of the United States. Number One on my Bucket List is to visit Africa. I want to take my books, mascot and visit children in an orphanage. It has not panned out yet, but it will. It most definitely will!
Since my first name is French, I have always wanted to go to Paris. Wee! Wee! Paris! I began to save. I started taking my lunch to work. Therapy shopping was scaled back. I have always polished my nails myself with a special treat to the manicurist/pedicurist. Those rare visits for manicures and pedicures were even rarer. I wear my hair natural – translation – no relaxer; thus, eliminating the need for regular visits to a salon. I set up a separate savings account, started saving coins and deposited additional money every paycheck into it. It was doable. I was determined to go to Paris! A group of us decided to make the trip. The biggest expenses were the plane tickets.
My research regarding visiting Paris was mostly from Googling, reading articles from blogs and travel sites. I was concerned about the proper behavior for an American citizen visiting another country. It is their home. Wherever you go, you never want to upset the host! You never want to offend and unknowingly break a law! This woman wants to return home and visit again.
During my investigations, I discovered a few unique “etiquette rules.” Whether they were true or not, we would find out during our trip.
· Numero Uno: Avoid behaving the same way I would in America. For instance, when going into a shop, ask to handle the goods. Do not touch and grab items as if I was in a store in the U.S.
· Learn a few phrases in French.
· Avoid looking the men in the eyes or speaking to them or they would assume you are a streetwalker. I kid you not, I found this one during my Googling session.
· Always use salutations.
The day finally came when we were leaving the U.S. for Paris. We landed and I immediately felt different. There was nothing special about the air. It was the realization that one of my dreams was actually coming true! I was giddy! We all were! We were picked up by a pre-arranged driver, a very handsome young man. If I was a few years younger, he would be my future husband!
He dropped us off at a 17th century building converted into apartments. The large wooden door to the entrance of the building was painted royal blue. He helped us take our luggage up three flights of stairs to our rental apartment. No elevator! The climb up the stairs were the equivalence of four American flights. He received a hefty tip. It was going to be fabulous! We settled in and reviewed our itinerary.
We were in Paris! Wee! Wee!
NEXT: First Day in Paris!