Sunday, March 25, 2012

If today is Wednesday, then this must be Paris...*

A few times a year the company I work for sends me on a shopping trip to Europe. This is completely normal for the Footwear industry. In fact, many times on these trips I have bumped into friends and old colleagues in totally random restaurants or shops. It's a small world after all.

When I mention this trip to friends and family who aren't in the biz, I usually get one of the following responses:

"You're being paid to go shopping?!?"
"Do you need someone to carry your bags?!?"

Most people in my life don't understand what exactly happens while I'm traveling, so I'm going to summarize my week here.

Long story short: NYC to Dusseldorf to Paris to Florence to London to NYC. In five days. 

Yes, you read that right - five days. I'm basically breaking the sound barrier.


Long story:


I don't travel alone - I'm paired up with my friend from work for the whole trip, which is awesome!
We leave NYC in the evening. I make sure I take an Advil pm to get some zzzzs. If I don't sleep it's a big problem. We land in Dusseldorf, Germany about 6am Monday. I sleep on and off during the night but estimate about 2 hours all together. Crap. I am usually better with overnight flights but it just doesn't work out too well this time.

Since we land so early and had reserved a hotel room for the night before, I have a little bit of time to spend napping. 
Sunrise in Dusseldorf

I sleep about 30 minutes, my alarm goes off, I get up, get dressed, go to breakfast, and we're out on the street by 10am when the stores are opening. We walk the streets for the next 7 or 8 hours. As we buy stuff, we carry it. Every time we back-track towards the hotel, we drop our bags in our room, and head out again. This is my first time in Dusseldorf, so there is a lot of back-tracking and exploring to figure out what streets had good shopping. We finish in time for dinner and I'm in bed by 9:30 pm.


No rest for the weary.
Got up around 4:15 am since we had a 7 am flight to Paris. We eat breakfast in the airport and sleep a little on the plane. Arrive in Paris during rush hour so it takes a long time to get into the city. Check into the hotel but my room isn't ready, so I leave my stuff in my friend's room. 

View from the hotel

We head out for shopping immediately.
I eat goat cheese for lunch at a typical French cafe.

An insane amount of goat cheese
There are numerous problems with my credit card today. I always call in advance to alert the bank of my travels. But this time it didn't stick and the bank keeps stopping me. I have to make lots of expensive international calls to clear up this mess. Frakking bank! But by mid-afternoon I'm up and running again.
We had to make multiple stops at the hotel just to drop our bags off.

At the end of the day we arrive back at the hotel and assess the damage...

We shop for a lot of stuff

We unpack/photograph/repack everything into our bags. I still haven't been to my room since it was unavailable earlier. I'm really hungry, but I decide I want to get my bags to my room before we go to dinner. We head down to the 6th floor and open the door.


It's a box of fruit and champagne on ice on my coffee table in the living room of my hotel room. Because they gave me a suite. Because 1 year ago I complained over some really bad things that happened last time at the hotel? Is that what this is for??

This never happens, by the way.


 And my room has a view of the Eiffel Tower

This also never happens, ever, ever, ever.

We devour the champagne and some of the fruit. By now we are starving and head to our favorite Parisian restaurant, which is really just an awesome Italian restaurant down a little side street nearby - Pizza Positano. It is excellent home-cooking style and everyone speaks Italian. It is tiny but I've eaten there a bunch of times and it really is as great as anything in Italy.

After dinner, we go back to the hotel. I call John to say goodnight and I'm prepping my clothes for tomorrow morning. I notice there is something wrong with the shower. The cold water doesn't work, so I'm only getting boiling hot water. Ugh really?? I can't deal with this as it's already 11:30 at night. Let me just brush my teeth and wash my face and get in bed. Oh - the sink isn't draining properly. Let me try to - no that doesn't work. If I get up under the sink and fiddle with the chain... Nope. This is a 4 star hotel, by the way.

I call downstairs and they move me to the "Eiffel Suite"


It is on the 7th floor and is probably the nicest room in this hotel. I take a shower and pass out.


Wake up about 8am. 

View from my window
Get dressed and go. Breakfast downstairs. We have to meet some people on the Right Bank. More shopping at the big department stores over there. Then we have a big lunch, because we're with our clients. We head back to the hotel. Pick up our stuff. Our flight leaves at 6:45pm but it takes a while to get to the airport.

I'm glad to leave Paris. I know it's hard to understand, because so many people are enamored by this city. But I just don't get the mystique. Don't I sound like an ass just saying it? I won't get into details, but similar to the story above, there are just too many things that have gone wrong while I've been there. Unfortunately, the shopping is good which ensures I'll have to return next time. But thankfully we are heading to Italy tonight.

We land in Florence about 9 pm and speed over to the hotel. Drop our bags. We are starving so we walk over to Buca Mario, which is an underground restaurant. 

Spinach Ravioli

It's about 10pm now. The great food is worth the wait.

Fresh produce and beef in their fridge!

I go to sleep late - after midnight. But I don't sleep very well. Crap.


Wake up, pack up, head to breakfast. Our time is limited today and we have a lot of ground to cover. We walk all over the place. It's magical. Florence is my most favorite city in Europe. 

Pasta in a random window

 Chandelier at breakfast

We buy lots. We arrive back at the hotel and make a mess in the lobby while furiously re-packing and squeezing everything in our bags. We head to the airport.

The flight to London is about 2 hours. We land in Gatwick, then head into the city. By the time we arrive at the hotel it's 9 pm and we're starving (see a pattern here? ha!). We at least had the foresight to make a dinner reservation at the always-crowded Sale e Pepe restaurant. Which is insanely good Italian. See another pattern here?

It's 11pm and we go back to our rooms. We have a serious issue with space in our bags. So we once again unpack/photograph/repack everything. Then it's light's out.


Wake up, pack up, head to breakfast. We shop for the next 7 hours, squeeze in lunch, then furiously pack our bags on the curb outside the hotel. The days are really blending together now. It seems like we're always packing, eating or walking. We both pass out in the taxi on the way to the airport. Check in. Walk around the airport. I spend my last bits of foreign currency. Sweet - I love it when that happens!

We board the plane and here goes the 7 hour flight back to NY. I manage to watch 3 movies. We land in JFK at 10:30. I'm home by 12 midnight, completely exhausted.

* Quote from Dad

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