Monday, October 11, 2010

Scratching the itch

Coming home is always an experience of mixed emotions. There is the joy in getting reacquainted with those whom you missed (parents, sister, cat) and the fun in telling your travel stories to anyone who'll listen and even to those who won't listen. There is the sorting of the photos, making the photo album, getting the watercolor you bought framed. But it always seems that after about 10 days, once the luggage is put away, the jetlag and residual headcold have worn off, reality strikes again. This happened to me last week and it was painful. In fact, it was more painful than I ever remember it being.

Is the gloom and pseudo-depression that set in a sign that it was just a really good trip? Does it mean that Russia was everything I expected and more? How is it possible, then, for something so good to leave me feeling so bad?

Wednesday and Thursday last week were painful for me. Perhaps it's the combined effects of the bum hip, an irresponsible personal trainer and a lethargic gloom of reality that fell over me at work. It really was over, and I was in a funk. I felt like I was coming down with something, just could not get behind myself.

So I did what any rabid traveler would do: I started looking at a quick fix. I have my sights set on a longer trip to Poland in the spring, but I am not going to last that long. I need to address the burn I feel now, now. And that's when IcelandAir sprung an amazing fare on me in its weekly email. And as soon as I said the words out loud -- "I'm kicking around a long weekend to Paris" -- I knew it was virtually certain I'd found the scratch for this itch.

I thought about it for a couple of days, reminding myself of the massive, history-making Monet exhibition that is on in Paris until the end of January, and I went to see what dates IcelandAir could whisk me away. I waited another day, confirmed I could get Mom to look after the cat, and I did it. In about 10 minutes I had air, hotel and a ticket to the exhibition. I am going just for three days, but I am going. Immediately, the fog lifted and I was on fire again.

Paris is an interesting contrast to Russia. I've been to Paris 5? 6? times before and I know it. I've seen most of it and I know my arrondissements. I can hit the ground running on day one. I just need to decide how and where to spend my time, which is a half day Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday. I will fly home at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, so I can get a good breakfast and lunch in Paris before I come home.

I picked a hotel in the 6th that is ordinarily $370 a night and got it for $200 a night. Not cheap, and more than my airfare, but remember, we're scratching an itch here. So because it's only 3 days and I've been before and I just want to see the exhibition, maybe day-trip to Rouen and otherwise just hang out, I'm challenging myself to make this trip carry-on luggage and Paris map only. No big suitcase, no pile of guidebooks. I'm going to just go and be on this trip.

We'll see how that works out. But for now the countdown is on again. And I feel better.