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Jan 22, 2018

During my recent travels, I had the opportunity to go to Paris. I was only there for a few days with my son Hudson. I went there to get him settled in school, and to make sure that he seemed happy with his arrangements. "Mum, I love this place," he said to me at one point. He was amazed by the city. There is so much history, art, and spectacular architecture that you can be pleasantly distracted for years. I hadn't been to Paris for decades, and only had vague(1) memories of certain places. One of my good friends, Lorraine, joined us for the weekend which was a special treat for me. She lives near London, and so caught the Eurostar train to Paris, a journey that only took two hours. I loved being back in Europe again, and having the chance to experience this intense city. Winter, I suppose, is not the best time to go to Paris to study; however, as Spring gets closer, the days get longer, there is less rain and more sun, my son will find himself in a city that is like a painted masterpiece(2). Like London, Paris is a place you can lose yourself in. That means that your mind can be totally absorbed by things other than yourself. And having two legs becomes especially important, as so much of what can be experienced needs to be walked to: you walk down narrow alleyways and discover art galleries, you walk around a historic building to take just the right photo, or you walk past cafe after cafe until you find the one that is particularly pretty, or has the best view.

Another thing that I enjoyed was practicing my French. Because I love language, and I'm not particularly shy, I threw myself into conversations with all sorts of people. My French was very inaccurate and rough, but I actually didn't care because I knew enough to make myself understood, and the people I spoke with were very kind and patient. I believe that people really appreciate it when you make an effort to speak their language; I think it shows humility. Anyway, I'm not a self-conscious teenager, so I don't mind making a fool of myself occasionally. I encouraged my son who is a self-conscious(3) teenager to jump in and talk as much as possible with the Parisians. 

I couldn't leave Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower, of course. The day that we went there was very cold indeed, and windy. Thankfully I had brought a long, thick coat as I hate to be cold. Lorraine and I had arranged to meet up with Hudson for a coffee nearby. There were so many people! Underneath the Tower is now sectioned off for security reasons, which is understandable. So we decided to go into one of the nearby tents and have a hot chocolate. We lingered and enjoyed the atmosphere, and then decided to take some photos and head back to his student residence. Though the skies were grey, and the trees bare, the sight was quite magnificent, even in the gloomy colors.

1. 'Vague' means inaccurate, slight, approximate, or not present.

a. His ideas are not expressed well; they are very vague.

b. I had a vague notion that we had left our keys in the restaurant.

c. He looks very vague, like he's off in the clouds.

2. 'Masterpiece' usually refers to a work of art or literature that is highly admired and considered close to perfect.

a. The Mona Lisa, and 'Pride and Prejudice' are considered masterpieces of both art and literature.

b. I wrote a poem; it's not a masterpiece, but I like it.

3. 'Self-conscious' is to have your mind too much on yourself, and to therefore feel shy.

a. I often feel self-conscious when people want to take a photo of me.

b. She's not self-conscious at all; she'll sing opera to anyone!