OUR TINY PARIS APARTMENT
We are staying in an apartment about as big as my kitchen at home. Our apartment is 50 meters square – about 150 square ft.
Somehow, this seems normal. We feel like we are in luxurious digs with all this space. My kitchen at home suddenly seems outrageously excessive.
By Paris standards, our apartment is big. It even has a separate bedroom, so we are really living. The shower is right in our bedroom, separated only by a shower curtain. The toilet is in a separate closet all together. Literally a closet. This is why the French are small people. Because they can’t be any bigger and still fit in the bathroom.
The kids sleep on the foldout couch. It is surrounded by backpacks that have exploded.
Because, no surprise here, I have overpacked the entire family for this adventure.
It could be a metaphor for my life. Overpacked. Why is my life, and now my backpack, full of so much stuff?
When you have to pack up your house and pare down your possessions in a week’s time, it becomes crystal clear how much…crap…you have. And how much of it you don’t need.
I’m supposed to be the seasoned traveler, right? But in the end I was rendered useless in decision making when it came to packing.
We each have one biggish backpack, and one daypack. Lots of people wonder how we can possibly live on so little for 5 months. I find myself dreaming of ways to ditch half of it along our route. I “accidentally” left a toiletries bag in Paris. A special gift for Francois – whose apartment we rented while he was on his honeymoon.
Actually without toiletries and a first aid kit, our bags would be 50% lighter. But I can’t bring myself to ditch the malaria meds or anti-diarrheals just to lighten the load. So to speak.
When we are out sightseeing, we just take a daypack or two. Shouldn’t weigh much, right? Wrong. We are packing 2 litres of water with us. And apples – the heaviest fruit on the planet. Or maybe it just feels that way when you’ve been walking around for 6 hours with a bushel of fruit.
Nevertheless, I spend the day obsessively counting items.
1, 2 3, 4
or 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 total items – that was the count for today.
* 2 cameras
* 2 backpacks
* 1 money belt
This count varies, and forces my brain to work harder than necessary on some days. Today the count was 5, but the count tomorrow may be 3. Which means I have to remember on the 3 day that it is 3, and not 5. The count gives me a heart attack approximately every 9 minutes, which is about how often I count our items.
I count them in the museum. I count them on the bus. I count them on the Metro – which is the underground in Paris. In Seattle, the Metro is the bus. So when we get lost, and I ask directions to the next art museum, if they say “Metro,” I inevitably point us towards the wrong transportation source. Curtis loves this.
We are perfecting the art of getting lost. The other night Curtis schlepped us out to Sacre Coeur chapel, because it’s “right near our apartment!” (remember: walking us into the ground). Forty-five minutes later we found ourselves atop the steep hillclimb with glorious Sacre Coeur as the sun was setting. Breathtaking. The quaintest little shops and cafes as the backdrop, and gelato stands that lured us in. Mango, lemon, strawberry – yum!
Now it’s time to go back home which is no problem. Curtis is absolutely sure of the way. So sure that he’s refused to bring a map on this outing. Except it’s dark, and we miss a turn, and now we’re on the verge of some seedy district looking at a street map with “rob me, we’re tourists!” written all over us. Nice.
A very nice young Frenchman befriends us and gets us pointed in the right direction. So it only took us 90 minutes to get home from a place it took us 45 minutes to reach.
We can use this ratio to predict any outing we take. Works like a charm every time.