The Woman in the Sandwich Shop

First off: I wish I had taken a picture of this little place, instead you’ll have to do with a picture I found on line. After some serious searching I’m pretty sure I found the place where the story occurred. I apologize for the stock photo. This would have been a fun moment. 

 

We just wanted a damn drink

It was a hot day in Paris. The afternoon turning to evening. We had spent a full day in the city exploring all the fun stuff the city had to offer. We were full blown tourists. Our eyes wide open, our curiosity craving to be fed and our real life thirst at an all-time high.

We were a few miles from the hotel and our energy was rock bottom. We were tired and hungry. A nice cold whatever sounded like a perfect treat. We passed busy restaurants and local watering holes but our aim was a little store full of little goodies.

Yes, we were on a budget.

At first we feared we were on the wrong side of town. Maybe the only place to quench our thirst was a fancy restaurant but just as we were about to give up a tiny store came into view.

Paris Sandwich Shop 1

 

Bread, Bread. Lots of Bread

From the look of the busy crowd it appeared to be a popular place in the neighborhood. Sandwiches, cold drinks and bread lined every corner of the little store.

Did I say bread? Yes, the French love their bread.

The place was crowded and the aisles were narrow. My wife and daughter did the shopping while I parked in the corner and out of the way.

I sat myself near a wall by the register where a long line of shoppers patiently waited their turn.

A few feet away I watched a woman struggle with her purchase. Her handbag was too small, her bread to wide, but somehow she found humor in her struggles.

 

The City was her child

She looked at me and laughed. Her smile was followed by a paragraph or two in French that I wished I understood. She appeared to be the type I would have enjoyed talking to.

Without hesitation her French switched to perfect English. It was so perfect she sounded like a local from my home town.

“You’re an English speaker,” She said.

“How did you know,” I asked.

As she fitted her large bread into her small handbag she gave me the happiest smile you ever saw and replied, “I overheard your conversation when you came in. You’re American.”

Her appearance was full of curiosity and confidence. I had a feeling she had seen her share of tourists in her town.

I complimented her talent of being able to speak other languages. She repaid my compliment by telling me the wonderful experiences she had when she visited the states.

She was curious what I thought of Paris and when I told her that her city was beautiful she smiled as though I had complimented her child.

We said our goodbyes as she turned and made her way home. Soon my thirst was quenched as we said goodnight to a full day in Paris and the friendly neighborhood we had passed through. 

My Wild Ride to the Neuschwanstein Castle

It’s sort of popular

Castle 5

To start with I had no idea just how popular this castle was. There are so many stories behind the scenes. I once heard that Disney used it as inspiration for some of their pictures.

The King who created it was a character all of his own and the employees who run the castle today are extremely dedicated with mountains of stories to tell.

I could go on and on with its history, the love affair that it still holds and the lives this beautiful castle has touched for centuries upon centuries.

But I’m not going to talk about that.

I have no doubt there are historians who could do a far better job than me in describing what this castle is all about but none of them could describe the wild experience I had just getting to the damn thing.

 

Allow me to explain

To get to the castle one must walk or ride a really steep hill. For those with a weak heart, or in my case a weak knee, other alternatives are a must.

Castle 3

A mini bus is available and from what I heard it’s the easiest way to get there. I’m not actually sure one could call it a bus but the mini part is pretty accurate.

Sadly the mini-thingy was not equipped for wheelchairs so our tour guide jumped into action with a much better plan. I like to call it the horse and Carriage Journey.

 

Horses, Carriages and Elbows

We were handed a one way ticket to the top. Our tour guide wished us well, returned to the group and carried on to the top of the hill. Keep in mind they were on a schedule and the last thing I wanted was to hold anyone back.

A small problem immediately surfaced: Would I be able to climb into this carriage-thingy upon its arrival? My worry was followed by another concern: Would the aggressive tourists surrounding us push us out of the way?

We immediately learned there would be no orderly line. In other words when the carriage arrived the weak was left behind. Glancing at my bad knee and my current predicament my future looked bleak.

 

Strange Happenings

Castle Horse

When the carriage arrived I saw something that day I thought I would never see. My law abiding, anti-line cutting wife jetted to the front of the line. Tickets in hand, elbows swinging and a look that would have scared Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bad boy in Terminator one.

In seconds, yes I timed her, I was pulled to the front of the line, tossed into the front seat, while the wheelchair was quickly folded and neatly placed in the back. I have no doubt the horses were impressed.

One the other hand the aggressive tourists were a little peeved.

 

Horses and Celebrations

Our journey took us half way with the remainder on foot. Thankfully members of our group were waiting and took turns pushing me the rest of the way.

When we made our way to the top a mini-celebration was in order. The Castle was no long as important as the journey but we were here and now it was time to explore.

Our journey down was far easier. By then we were veterans. A little beat up. A little dirty, but above all fearless for conquering the impossible. 

If you are ever in the area I advise you to visit The Neuschwanstein Castle. Your experience will create a wonderful memory but I have a feeling you won’t have one like mine.    

Castle 2