I collect old guide books because, well, I don’t read fiction so that doesn’t leave a whole lot else to read. Ha ha!
Usually I collect guidebooks from the 1950s – 1970s, to reminisce about how you used to be able to get a hotel room in London for a pound and a whole French dinner for 5 FF (ah, life and its mathematics were so much simpler then), but my local public library is cleaning out its stacks these days to sell the rejects for ten cents each and I happened to pick up a 2005 Frommer’s guide to Paris. I thumbed through it and became deep in thought…
I found myself really thinking, debating, hard, about whether or not I should buy this book. FOR A DIME.
[Insert senility-denying chuckle here, with rueful smile about how if it had been anybody else fretting over the pros and cons of spending ten freaking cents I would think they were a moron.]
Take a look: the frontispiece photo ALONE is worth every penny:
While THIS picture (below) cost me about $4,000:
This is the Brasserie du Champ du Mars, a cafe near my old stomping grounds in the 7th arrondisement near the American University in Paris, also called The American Quarter because it’s where Rick Steves sends all his readers.
There I was, taking the exact same photo as Frommer’s, because I happen to like the area because I’m a Capricorn. We Capricorns can eat the exact same thing for lunch every day of our lives, we’re happiest when our wardrobe consists of uniforms, and when we go to Paris we stay in the exact same neighborhood for 30 years.
Also, if you’re as jet lagged as I am when you get to Paris, it’s nice to not have to THINK about getting your bearings: you just tell your feets to head to the Avenue Bosquet. And then you can get creeped out because there’s the same hair salon that treated you so snotty in 1977, the same newsstand where you got the Figaro the day that Princess Grace died in 1982, the same Post Office where the the counter person blew her cigarette smoke in your face sometime in the early ’90s. Plus ca change, etc.
My photo is from the 28-day road trip that Top Cat and took through France in 2005, the one I’m busy writing about and illustrating EVEN AS WE SPEAK. And if, in 2012, you see my painting of this cafe here (where Top Cat and I would partake of our morning tea and croissants) in That Damn France Book, I just want you to know that I’d already done my illustration before I had any idea that Frommer’s was READING MY MIND.
Next time I go to France, I’m wearing my tin foil hat.
How about you — Do you have any travel habits? Favorite foreign haunts? The feeling that aliens are tapping into your brain waves?