I finally make it home from Paris Bastille Day celebrations at 3 a.m., having been trapped in a huge crowd at the Eiffel tower.
I’m woken at 10 a.m. by vuvuzelas. The American bar across the street from my apartment is hosting an American theme party. I watch them out the window as they arrive and laugh at each other’s costumes. There’s a small group of men in overalls with no shirts, one of them is wearing a new Giants baseball cap — my home team. There is a single black man, he has a pick lodged in his hair. They scream and honk when cars drive by, the cars honk back. Everyone cheers. More men arrive in Hawaiian shirts and straw hats.
The women show up wearing workout sneakers, low-cut T-shirts and shorts, or shirts with slogans printed on them. They have fake tattoos drawn on their upper arms, large flower fascinators in their hair. All of them are carrying things — multiple plastic bags, huge purses, messenger bags with the straps worn cross body, and an inexplicable giant SpongeBob doll. Two more women arrive with huge cameras around their necks and begin snapping, so the Parisians gamely pose by removing cell phones from their bags and taking selfies.
Another car drives by and honks. They cheer.
A few hours later, the men begin to do push ups in the alley, sitting on each other’s backs. Then one of them overturns a keg and tries to run on top of it like it’s a barrel. While his friends hold him up on either side, they shout traditional American sayings like:
AH, fuck me!
That game was RIGGED!
They also imitate American tourists imitating French people:
VIVE LA FRANCE! VIVE LA FRANCE!
There’s a detail out of place of course — every one of them is smoking. And smoking. And then having a cigarette afterward. I watch their increasingly athletic efforts until someone arrives with a bull horn. The noise grows frantic, and a man’s voice shouts “THREE, TWO, ONE!” The whole group takes off on a sprint around the block, kegs hefted over their heads.
It has been quite a while and they haven’t returned. I would assume they surrendered the effort, but that would be tasteless.
Viva la France.
My dear friend Helen Jane was one of the first professional bloggers. She designed the web site right here, and she’s been living in Napa for nearly a decade. I’m always asking her where to go and what to do when friends are in town, so she wrote up a Go Travel for us on Napa Valley, California. Go have a look.
More From Go Travel:
Oh. Oh, no. I’m afraid of Paris, where I will be for long enough that I would starve if I tried to stay in my apartment without communicating in French. Oh, French people. Je suis désolé that my French is so terrible.
But! Maybe you’ve been to France. Have you? Tell me where I should go to test my sub-par linguistic skills.
Merci. Je suis tellement faim.
Last night, I spent several minutes trying to break into the apartment downstairs from mine.
The doors are identical, and they have the same apartment number painted above the door. I fiddled with my keys for 10 minutes, but when I began some exploratory shoulder throws into the stuck door a young man opened it. He looked very composed for someone who had clearly just retrieved his clothes from the floor.
Startled, I peered past him into Not My Apartment.
Are you upstairs?, he asked in Spanish.
Yes, I said. Possibly. Apologies.
I really should keep a bottle of wine in the apartment.
I’m heading to Barcelona soon, where I will eat all the Manchego in the country. It’s a bit of an unexpected trip — my ex and I arranged to do a kid handoff mid trip so both of us get to see Europe with Hank without spending as much on tickets.
If you’ve visited or lived in Barcelona, I’d love to hear what you’d recommend. Hank will be with me part of the time, but I’ll have time on my own too. If you have favorite restaurants, things to eat, things to do, or general advice, I’m all ears.