It’s not as though the winter is not long and grey enough here, but this year it was bitterly cold and the snow just kept coming back again and again. We had been looking forward to an escape for months.
Last year Elise’s dad’s (and therefore our former) neighbors Sandi and Tom came to visit us. We had a great time and were looking forward to seeing them again. This year they decided to take a trip to France and we met them in Paris for the weekend. Much to our luck, our old friend Maïté from our time at Uni Stuttgart was living in Paris as well. It was great to see Sandi and Tom and we hope that they come back to Germany at some point again. It was fantastic to see Maïté as well. It was only when we finally met up with her that we realized that it has been ten years since we last saw each other. However the great thing was that absolutely nothing had changed. She was just as energetic and funny as ever and we were speaking as though we had just seen each other the week before. I have come to find that this is the nature of meeting people on an exchange. Although the years inevitably pass by, when you meet up with these old friends, it is always as though time had stopped.
Having done the usual Paris tourist stuff many times over, we decided to hit up the catacombs and walk amongst the bones of six million Parisians. Having worked up quite an appetite doing that, Maïté took us to one of her favorite crêpe restaurants for lunch. After spending the afternoon in Galeries Lafayette, the oldest shopping center in Paris, we met up with another of Elise’s dad’s friends who works for the US consulate in Paris. It is only now that I am writing this that I realize how coincidental these meetings were. Has our world always been so small? The next day we went out to the annual French agricultural exposition. Okay, as a kid, the 4H fair was always a lot of fun, but as I got older it grew kind of tacky. Well, this exposition made any county or state fair in the US look downright laughable. It was taking up most (if not all) of the Paris exposition grounds with pavilion after pavilion, hall after hall, of livestock, produce, food, cheese, wine, and anything else that can be grown. It was amazing. Finally, we wrapped up the evening with Tom showing me how a person really drinks. I don’t remember much about the fondue dinner, but I do remember it was GOOD.
Oh, and when we got back to Karlsruhe, it had snowed fifteen centimeters.