Sunday, February 19, 2012

Travel Tip: Having Things To Do

 On a trip to Paris last year I found myself having feelings of unhappiness. What is this? I thought to myself. Who is unhappy in Paris? Turns out I had forgotten one of the cardinal rules of traveling: Always work something that you do at home (wherever that is) and/or are passionate about into your schedule. I had arrived in Paris to visit someone. The visit was not going well and my found my discontent spilling over into my feelings about Paris. Determined to change this, on my very last day in Paris I went to a Tango class at Tan-Go-In. Having found the class 1 hour before it started, I had to get ready and make an epic dash from one end of the city to another.

 Obviously, since I had somewhere to be, every single train I got on either stopped for 5 minutes at every other station or in the middle of a tunnel due to some malfunction. Amazingly, I rushed to the street address, 323, rue Saint-Martin, just 5 minutes late. I looked at the number on the building and hesitated. I wasn't sure which doorway the number indicated. The most likely location looked like a studio selling artwork. There were no lights on and I could not see anyone inside. I decided to go through the big black doors to the left. Luckily, someone came out of the doors as I made up my mind and I slipped in behind him. This was not the place. Going back outside I was again standing in front of this art gallery. Why not? I thought and rang the bell.

 A thin man appeared from subterranean depths (this sounds much better than he walked up the stairs. Work with me ;) ). He wore his long dark hair in a ponytail clasped together at the base of his neck, a white v-neck sweater and dark pants. Unlocking the door (I had tried it earlier) he asked, with raised eyebrows, what I wanted. We worked out that I was terribly sorry for being late and I really was desperate to get into the Tango class. He turned and led me down the spiraling staircase and through a curtain into a marvelous dance room. I was able to join the class, had an amazing time and was invited to the weekly Milonga that evening (well, to be honest, everyone was).  Leaving the dance studio feeling extremely euphoric I realized that Paris had a golden hue again (OK, so the sun HAD come out that afternoon, but I was shining from the inside as well). Embraced by these feelings of happiness and goodwill I roamed about the city having a great time and making a mental note to always, always arrange to spend at least one day of a trip doing something that you love. It just might save your relationship, or, in my case, it saved the trip.

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