The final week of the Parisian stop on Book Writing Tour begins with a second Pilates en français class, to exercise the body, the mind, and together, the spirit. My Artist Date this week, while not quite alone amongst friends of my Parisian host, is nonetheless a relatively solitary artist-nurturing experience consisting of three solid hours of four theatre performances – entirely in French! A midnight Vélib bike-share ride home is the day’s welcomed mind-clearing finale.
Writing, though, need not always be an entirely solitary activity. Collaboration and mutual support with other writers is highly beneficial and recommended, particularly over a tasty meal of French onion soup, mixed salad, and dessert crepe, in a typical Parisian café, on the odd sunny summer afternoon. This is where Maria and I meet for the second time, to share our biographical writing experiences. It presents an opportunity to share my story of how I came to be working with my Developmental Editor.
Taking advantage of a rare sunny day, I return for my morning writing to the little park by a church on rue Mouffetard, where I wrote on my first writing day in Paris. I slowly begin to say my au revoirs to Paris.
Still intermittently sunny in the afternoon, I grab a small picnic on the way to le Jardin du Luxemburg, on the Vélib bike-share, of course. This garden park is the working artist’s haven, with visual inspiration abound in the statues, the flower beds, the diversity of trees, period buildings, a pond that serves as a fountain in the centre, and lots of places to sit down with a laptop computer or handheld easel. A multitude of chairs is provided throughout the garden park, as grassy knolls and patches are strictly forbidden from trespassing with a blanket. Joggers and strollers of all ages complete the setting.
I observe the carefree happiness of a little boy ducking in behind a tree as he marvels at the wonders around him, and witness the innocence of childhood slowly stripped away from him as his scolding mother yanks him into obedient motion in the direction she feels they need to be taking. Here I write, while sipping my Bordeaux and munching on my baguette, for four hours into the early evening. In the quite life-inspiring setting, I write about one of my own life re-inspiring events.
That evening I am rewarded with one of my better restaurant meals, which in the café-filled Paris means quite a lot! After nearly sitting myself directly into a tourist-trap, I leave my pedestrian alley courtyard table and opt for a more authentic French gourmet across rue Saint Andrés des Arts at Vins et Terroirs. The two dishes I order, accompanied by a small carafe de rosé, are both excellent – and by now, I have some good points of reference to say so. The saumon tartare with avocado paste topping and a beetroot sorbet are only barely outdone by the salade Landaise, which, in a word, is a mixed salad with all things duck: steaming gizzards, smoked duck breast, and a medallion of foie gras.
Fully satiated in my dining, writing, and life-witnessing experience, through the streets of Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés, past the Saint Sulpice church, I take the Vélib bike-share home. Located south of the river Seine and west of the Notre Dame Cathedral, Saint Germain becomes possibly my favourite area of Paris, rivalling even the by-now-famous rue Mouffetard.
After ensuring that my tastebuds experience a cheese fondue and a traditional quiche, both back at rue Mouffetard, I take the night train from Paris to Hamburg. In my six couchette comportment reserved for four passengers only, I spend the first part of the evening enjoying the space all on my own. Thinking about a nice bottle of Bordeaux I did not bring on my journey, I crack open the dark chocolate with sea salt, and settle into a couple of hours of my evening writing, occasionally peaking out the train window. In the morning, after a relatively good sleep on the top bunk, fully trained by the conductor in compartment door security, I am happily met by my Hamburgerin hostess at the main train station.
It is Saturday, the first weekend in July in Hamburg, and it is cool and over cast. Naturally, it is time for Schlagermove parade of 1960’s and 1970’s music, eclectic vintage clothing, and lots and lots of happily drunk Germans from across the nation. My Hamburgerin hostess is joined by a few of her closest friends – fortunately for me, they are all German-and-English-speaking. We have some cake and few drinks, I get a white feather boa, and we head out for a five-hour afternoon walk along 40-some music party parade trucks. We finish in the Reeperbahn red-light district around dinner time, and end up at a Polish restaurant of all places!
This week, we enjoy two varieties of Special Dish for the Week: Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup and Tomato, Cardamom, Chickpea and Coconut Sauce over Quinoa.