Thursday, May 4, 2023

We're Going back - The Where (and The Wear), The When, The How, The Why and The Packing

This has been a fun piece to put together.

I've been working on it off and on for a few days in response to questions from friends who have big trips planned.  One girlfriend is going to Italy, one to a Ireland, and today I just chatted with a good friend who is planning a trip to Japan.

I've had questions like "When are you going back to Paris?"

Answer: This winter.

"Why are you going back to Paris?"

Answer:  This is a hard one to answer except for the simple fact that I love it.  I feel totally and completely at home in Paris.  I felt that way the very first day I stepped off the plane into CDG airport, which I think most people agree is not the greatest when it comes to easy maneuverability.  Aside from the airport, Paris just speaks to me in a way I can't explain.  And, I feel as though it still has much to say to me.  Add all that to the fact that Donald has grown to love it "almost" as much as me makes it nice.  He agrees that it's a beautiful city, and he has found the people to be patient, kind, and nice.  We have had some pretty wonderful experiences while there in the past.

"Why not some place different?"

Answer:  The some place(s) different are coming.  We have Italy, Spain, and Ireland on our list.  And we'll go back to Amsterdam, and maybe back to Greece even though it seems to have changed so, so much, which makes me sad.

"Are you really able to pack for a two-week trip without checking a bag??    HOW?"

Answer:  Yep.  I can.  We both can.  

Some people would just rather pack the way they're used to and check a large bag.  I would rather not, unless it's absolutely necessary.  

The following works for me and I'm happy with it.  But - you know - to each his own.  

So, here we go.  Some of you get answers to questions and I get to talk about Paris.  😊  You'll probably get way more than you asked for (I know, I know, sorry! consider the books mentioned, along with the poetry, as bonuses.  Or skip over them.). I had a whole bunch of fun writing this.

I hope you enjoy it.  And remember, not all this may work for you.  

Planning Our Next Trip

Planning is, to me, some of the best part of traveling.

I like to think about where we're going, read about where we're going, what I'm going to wear, where we might eat . . . ALL that stuff!  French rabbit holes are fun!  And the things and places we don't get to - oh, well.  We'll be back.  💗

(Poetry break #1)

Horizon (to Tristan Tzara) by Philippe Soupault

The whole town has come into my room
the trees have disappeared
and evening clings to my fingers
The houses are turning into ocean liners
the sound of the sea has just reached me up here
In two days we’ll arrive in the Congo
I’ve passed the Equator and the Tropic of Capricorn
I know there are innumerable hills
Notre-Dame hides the Gaurisankar and the northern lights
night falls drop by drop
I await the hours

Give me that lemonade and the last cigarette
I’m going back to Paris

(translated by Rosmarie Waldrop)

The When

This Winter

The Where

Back to Paris. But, not just Paris this time.

This trip is going to be a Viking cruise down the Seine from Paris to Les Andelys, Rouen, Caudebec-en-Caux, Honfleur, Vernon, and back to Paris for a few days.

A trip I've dreamed of for a long time.

Les Andelys





The Wear

1. On the plane. 
Who wants to take a chance on being uncomfortable on a long flight?!  Ugh.

I don't want tight pants binding me in all the wrong places so I throw on a soft comfy lose dress.  I think of these dresses as respectable nightgowns.  I know the pandemic brought us this thing called "sleep dresses,"  these are not them.  I'm betting you could get away with wearing one of those "sleep dresses," but, please. just call it what it is.  A nightie.  😉 😈  Anyway, I love soft comfy lose dresses.  And pockets!  Bonus points for pockets.

And I now wear compression tights to fly in.  My feet and ankles are prone to swelling while flying and these help.  AND they do make my legs feel good.

I never go anywhere without this wrap.  It's warm, it's soft, it's perfect for everything, everywhere, especially flying.

If you don't already have one, buy yourself a wrap!

If it's reversible, bonus points.

If it's cashmere, you'll love it forever.  I promise.

I have had mine for more than 20 years.   Yep.   I have.   Admittedly, it's beginning to show some wear, but I love it as much today as I did the day I spent too much to buy it.

What to Wear

2. Everywhere

It's a lot easier to eliminate that large checked bag if you think about your wardrobe ahead of time and stick to a particular color palette.

That is easy for me to do since I love black.

And red.

Without even trying, I have accumulated a closet full of black clothes.  Little black dresses work for everything.  They can be just casual enough for the day, and nicely move into an evening out with the addition of a scarf, or your favorite piece of nice jewelry.  There are several particular brands who design dresses that are easily packable and fashionable.   The LBDs I travel with are often wrinkle-free when unpacked, or sort themselves out while hanging in the bathroom during hot shower time.  

About that jewelry - be careful.  A little is enough.  Do not call attention to yourself with your jewelry.  And even with a room safe, I'm still leery about leaving it in our room.

Easy ways to change the look of your little black dress include scarves (who doesn't love a scarf?) and/or kimonos.  Keeping this in mind helps you cut down on how many dresses you need to take.

Scarves and kimonos roll or fold up to hardly anything and take up minimal space in your bag.   More scarves/kimonos - Fewer dresses.

I keep saying dresses rather than outfits because I have pretty much started sticking to just dresses.  When I start thinking about pants and tops I end up packing too many.  Easier for me to stick with dresses, scarves and kimonos.

Kimonos are one of those fashion items that have come and gone in fashion status over the years.  I love 'em so have some from several years back that I still wear.  They're also popular again right now.  You can find them in all price ranges from a couple of thousand dollars for one-of-a-kind kimonos at Johnny Was to more (MUCH more) reasonable almost everywhere else.  Even including Amazon.

And if you're going to Paris?  You need a scarf.  You do.  And, truth be told, you'll probably buy one (or more) while you're there.  

There are surprisingly nice, inexpensive scarves available at the little souvenir shops.  And, of course, there's always Hermes if you want to bring home a really elegant Parisian remembrance.

You'll also see young people selling Hermes knock-offs.  Good looking knock-offs.  You'll probably see some of them take off running at times.  That's because selling those knock-offs is illegal.  Be careful - it's also illegal to purchase them.

A misconception regarding French women is concerning how they dress.  My observation has been that they do not over-dress like Emily in Paris would have us believe.

They're much more sedate and understated in their clothing, their jewelry, their make-up.  Clothing seems to be mostly neutral colors, with pops of color from a scarf.  It's a look, I think, that unless you're French, raised in France, you're not going to be able to duplicate.  

I don't fret about "looking like a tourist."  I AM a tourist!   My goal is simply to dress comfortably and nicely.  

Poetry Break! 

Paris is the swirling madness surrounding the calm of the Seine; it’s the je ne sais quoi that runs through city veins.

Paris is red lipstick with a spritz of French parfum; its a seductive ooh-la-la whose whisper echoes through a room.

Paris is arches and bridges and cobble-stoned streets; it’s Romanesque architecture boasting ornate feats.

Paris is the Notre-Dame, but it’s also don’t give a damn – unless you speak en Français; it’s a reserved politeness delivered in a distinctly Parisian way.

Paris is the Eiffel Tower, but it’s also ‘I fell for you‘; it’s whimsically romantic but it’s cliché, too.

Paris is the Arc de Triomphe, but it’s also triumphantly ironic; it pays tribute to the dead, yet Champs-Élysée‘s more iconic.

Paris is croissants, baguettes and boulangeries; it’s Croque Monsieur but also Crème Brülée.

Paris is bicycles, scooters and European trains; it’s an overcrowded subway, but no-one complains.

Paris is museums and galleries and fashionable boutiques; it’s aspiring artists, models and haute social cliques.

Paris is a city sealed with a passionate French kiss; it’s rose-tinted reminiscence and a dreamer’s ‘What if…?’

This is Paris – Paris to me.

         by SIOBHÁIN SPEAR 

     3. Shoes

I can already see many of you shaking your head as you read my thoughts on  shoes.

It's okay. We all have our "but I cannot travel without (fill in the blank)" items.  For many people, that means shoes.  I get it.  Not packing a lot of shoes is one of my ways of cutting down so as not to have to worry about checking a bag. It's an easy choice for me; not so much for others.

I love heels as much as anyone (maybe not as high as what I once wore . . . ), but when I'm traveling these days it is ALL about comfort.  Walking is the best way to enjoy Paris.  Wearing heels, to me, would just be dumb.

Not too long ago, in Paris, women wearing tennis shoes for anything other than a trip to the gym was a no-no.  That is no longer the case.  White tennis shoes are more than acceptable these days.  You're going to see them everywhere in France.  Not just being worn by tourists.  And you'll be right in style.  AND comfortable!

My point is, I've learned that I can get along just fine fine fine without several pairs of shoes.

These are my normal go-to flat, comfy shoes for traveling.

(Important words here   -     Comfy.    Flat.)

A confession. Our last trip to Paris, I forgot to pack any shoes. I had the shoes on my feet.  The red Keen Mary Janes. That was it. I wore them every day for 16 days. I may have been a little bored with them, but my feet felt great.

I know some of you would have found this to be an untenable situation, cause for a shopping emergency.  Admittedly, I considered doing some Paris shoe shopping, but my feet felt so damn good I just didn't bother. It's amazing how carefree a girl can be when her feet are happy.

4. Boots

I have some super comfy flat knee high black leather boots that I sometimes take with me. Sometimes. If we're there when it's warm, I leave them at home.

(I repeat. Important words here  -     Comfy.   Flat.)

No, not taking any of my cowboy boots. 😊  As much as I love 'em, they would take up too much packing space.

But because it's going to be winter time, I'm taking some warm water proof boots for walking tours.

This is probably a good spot to talk about additional winter gear for this particular trip.

It will include a long blue down-filled coat that Donald bought me when we first moved to the mountains and it snowed seven inches the first night we stayed in our new house. On October 7th. That coat quickly became my best friend/security blankie.

To perk up that tired old much loved coat on this trip, I bought a new scarf and mittens. I love them!  They are just too fun, I think.  

Donald is not as enthusiastic.  He hates the mittens.

Back to The Why

I recommend reading A Paris All Your Own - Bestselling Women Writers on the City of Light edited by Eleanor Brown.  

 - Contributing authors include Paula McLain, Therese Anne Fowler, Melissa Shapiro, Jennifer Coburn, Maggie Shipstead, Lauren Willig, Cathy Kelly, Rachel Hore, Meg Waite Clayton, Ellen Sussman, M. J. Rose, Susan Vreeland , Megan Crane, Michelle Gable, J. Courtney Sullivan, Julie Powell, Jennifer Scott, and Cara Black.  

Let them tell you what they love about Paris.  Actually, I think there's one writer included who tells us why she doesn't care for Paris . . .  

It's a book I love.

While we're talking about books, here are links to two lists of books about Paris.


The lists need updating, maybe I'll get busy doing that soon.

The Packing

On a long flight, I want to sleep.  Unlike my husband, who can sleep anywhere, under any conditions, I cannot.

I need a blankie (and not one of those tiny tissue weight things airlines call blankets.  I mean a real blanket).  There are dozens of travel blanket options available.

I also need a pillow.  And while there are many options, most of which I've tried, I have yet to find one that is "just right."  I'm hoping maybe this new trtl will be the answer.  We'll see.  


If you're like us, you have a wealth of suitcases in your attic, under your bed, in your storage closets.

I still have the red Samsonite luggage my parents gave me, piece by piece, as birthday and Christmas gifts.  Including the round hat box, and the little train case.

Well, I don't have all the red Samsonite.

One piece is missing.

I let a good friend borrow the largest piece to run away from Georgia to Texas back in 1971.

She was running from an abusive ex-husband who tracked her down, followed her to Georgia from Alabama.

What she found in Texas while living with her brother and his wife was a nice man who ended up being the husband she deserved.  They went on to have two children and a good marriage.

That suitcase helped her start a new life.  I was happy to let it go.

Nowadays, flying is different.  Luggage is different.

A suitcase takes more abuse now than it did back then.

There are things you can pack,

and things you can't.

There are weight limits and charges for luggage.

Suffice to say  -  things have changed a lot since I worked for the airlines.  

No, I wasn't a flight attendant.  Almost.  

Well, for almost an hour.  

But no . . .  another story for another day.

Anyhoo . . . 


My preference for a carry-on is hard shell.  Lightweight.  360 spinner wheels.  

Here are the two carry-on pieces I'm going to try to pack for our winter trip.  I know it can be done because I've done it.

Both are Away pieces.

Away doesn't put their stuff on sale very often, but they do occassionally - it's worth checking their webpage from time to time if you're shopping for luggage.

I do have a "refer a friend" $20.00 coupon I can share with you.  It's for first time Away buyers.  

These are Donald's two carry-on pieces.

He has a new Solgaard carry-on closet.  We'll see how this goes.  It looks interesting, for sure.


Because this is a winter trip with heavy coats and boots, we may have to pack a large bag to check.

I hope not.

I'm thinking wear the heavy coats and boots on the plane.

We'll see as time gets closer.

This is by Delsey.  Watch for sales!  We got ours through Macy's for 1/2 price.

Packing Cubes.

Oh how I love packing cubes.

For a person who loves things organized, here's your answer.


There we have it.

If you're one of the folks asking one or more of these questions, I hope this helps.

If you just happened by, I hope you found this to be enjoyable.

And I hope, if you love to travel, that you have a fun trip in the fairly near future!

Happy Trails!

Life is good.

And one final Paris poem -

First, London, for its myriads; for its height, 
Manhattan heaped in towering stalagmite; 
But Paris for the smoothness of the paths 
That lead the heart unto the heart's delight. . . . 

Fair loiterer on the threshold of those days 
When there's no lovelier prize the world displays 
Than, having beauty and your twenty years, 
You have the means to conquer and the ways, 

And coming where the crossroads separate 
And down each vista glories and wonders wait, 
Crowning each path with pinnacles so fair 
You know not which to choose, and hesitate -- 

Oh, go to Paris. . . . In the midday gloom 
Of some old quarter take a little room 
That looks off over Paris and its towers 
From Saint Gervais round to the Emperor's Tomb, -- 

So high that you can hear a mating dove 
Croon down the chimney from the roof above, 
See Notre Dame and know how sweet it is 
To wake between Our Lady and our love. 

And have a little balcony to bring 
Fair plants to fill with verdure and blossoming, 
That sparrows seek, to feed from pretty hands, 
And swallows circle over in the Spring. 

There of an evening you shall sit at ease 
In the sweet month of flowering chestnut-trees, 
There with your little darling in your arms, 
Your pretty dark-eyed Manon or Louise. 

And looking out over the domes and towers 
That chime the fleeting quarters and the hours, 
While the bright clouds banked eastward back of them 
Blush in the sunset, pink as hawthorn flowers, 

You cannot fail to think, as I have done, 
Some of life's ends attained, so you be one 
Who measures life's attainment by the hours 
That Joy has rescued from oblivion. 


Come out into the evening streets. The green light lessens in the west. 
The city laughs and liveliest her fervid pulse of pleasure beats. 

The belfry on Saint Severin strikes eight across the smoking eaves: 
Come out under the lights and leaves 
to the Reine Blanche on Saint Germain. . . . 

Now crowded diners fill the floor of brasserie and restaurant. 
Shrill voices cry "L'Intransigeant," and corners echo "Paris-Sport." 

Where rows of tables from the street are screened with shoots of box and bay, 
The ragged minstrels sing and play and gather sous from those that eat. 

And old men stand with menu-cards, inviting passers-by to dine 
On the bright terraces that line the Latin Quarter boulevards. . . . 

But, having drunk and eaten well, 'tis pleasant then to stroll along 
And mingle with the merry throng that promenades on Saint Michel. 

Here saunter types of every sort. The shoddy jostle with the chic: 
Turk and Roumanian and Greek; student and officer and sport; 

Slavs with their peasant, Christ-like heads, 
and courtezans like powdered moths, 
And peddlers from Algiers, with cloths 
bright-hued and stitched with golden threads; 

And painters with big, serious eyes go rapt in dreams, fantastic shapes 
In corduroys and Spanish capes and locks uncut and flowing ties; 

And lovers wander two by two, oblivious among the press, 
And making one of them no less, all lovers shall be dear to you: 

All laughing lips you move among, all happy hearts that, knowing what 
Makes life worth while, have wasted not the sweet reprieve of being young. 

"Comment ca va!" "Mon vieux!" "Mon cher!" 
Friends greet and banter as they pass. 
'Tis sweet to see among the mass comrades and lovers everywhere, 

A law that's sane, a Love that's free, and men of every birth and blood 
Allied in one great brotherhood of Art and Joy and Poverty. . . . 

The open cafe-windows frame loungers at their liqueurs and beer, 
And walking past them one can hear fragments of Tosca and Boheme. 

And in the brilliant-lighted door of cinemas the barker calls, 
And lurid posters paint the walls with scenes of Love and crime and war. 

But follow past the flaming lights, borne onward with the stream of feet, 
Where Bullier's further up the street is marvellous on Thursday nights. 

Here all Bohemia flocks apace; you could not often find elsewhere 
So many happy heads and fair assembled in one time and place. 

Under the glare and noise and heat the galaxy of dancing whirls, 
Smokers, with covered heads, and girls dressed in the costume of the street. 

From tables packed around the wall the crowds that drink and frolic there 
Spin serpentines into the air far out over the reeking hall, 

That, settling where the coils unroll, tangle with pink and green and blue 
The crowds that rag to "Hitchy-koo" and boston to the "Barcarole". . . . 

Here Mimi ventures, at fifteen, to make her debut in romance,
And join her sisters in the dance and see the life that they have seen.

Her hair, a tight hat just allows to brush beneath the narrow brim,
Docked, in the model's present whim, `frise' and banged above the brows.

Uncorseted, her clinging dress with every step and turn betrays,
In pretty and provoking ways her adolescent loveliness,

As guiding Gaby or Lucile she dances, emulating them
In each disturbing stratagem and each lascivious appeal.

Each turn a challenge, every pose an invitation to compete,
Along the maze of whirling feet the grave-eyed little wanton goes,

And, flaunting all the hue that lies in childish cheeks and nubile waist,
She passes, charmingly unchaste, illumining ignoble eyes. . . .

But now the blood from every heart leaps madder through abounding veins
As first the fascinating strains of "El Irresistible" start.

Caught in the spell of pulsing sound, impatient elbows lift and yield
The scented softnesses they shield to arms that catch and close them round,

Surrender, swift to be possessed, the silken supple forms beneath
To all the bliss the measures breathe and all the madness they suggest.

Crowds congregate and make a ring. Four deep they stand and strain to see
The tango in its ecstasy of glowing lives that clasp and cling.

Lithe limbs relaxed, exalted eyes fastened on vacancy, they seem
To float upon the perfumed stream of some voluptuous Paradise,

Or, rapt in some Arabian Night, to rock there, cradled and subdued,
In a luxurious lassitude of rhythm and sensual delight.

And only when the measures cease and terminate the flowing dance
They waken from their magic trance and join the cries that clamor "Bis!" . . .

Midnight adjourns the festival. The couples climb the crowded stair,
And out into the warm night air go singing fragments of the ball.

Close-folded in desire they pass, or stop to drink and talk awhile
In the cafes along the mile from Bullier's back to Montparnasse:

The "Closerie" or "La Rotonde", where smoking, under lamplit trees,
Sit Art's enamored devotees, chatting across their `brune' and `blonde'. . . .

Make one of them and come to know sweet Paris -- not as many do,
Seeing but the folly of the few, the froth, the tinsel, and the show --

But taking some white proffered hand that from Earth's barren every day
Can lead you by the shortest way into Love's florid fairyland.

And that divine enchanted life that lurks under Life's common guise --
That city of romance that lies within the City's toil and strife --

Shall, knocking, open to your hands, for Love is all its golden key,
And one's name murmured tenderly the only magic it demands.

And when all else is gray and void in the vast gulf of memory,
Green islands of delight shall be all blessed moments so enjoyed:

When vaulted with the city skies, on its cathedral floors you stood,
And, priest of a bright brotherhood, performed the mystic sacrifice,

At Love's high altar fit to stand, with fire and incense aureoled,
The celebrant in cloth of gold with Spring and Youth on either hand.
     By Alan Seeger

I almost forgot!
I always, ALWAYS, take a hat. 😊

j'espère que vous reviendrez


Lesa said...

This was so much fun to read, Kaye! Good advice, but it also brought back such nice memories of our trip to Paris. I can't wait to see the winter pictures!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Thank you, Lesa! it was fun to write. Yep, those memories from our trip to Paris are pretty darn special. I wish you didn't hate winter so much, and would come on this trip with us!!!!!

Love you!