When I am traveling, I am not a checklist person. I always cringe when, for example, someone would discuss their recent getaway to The Big Apple with a litany of, “We did The Empire State Building, and we did The Statue of Liberty and we did the Guggenheim…”
Did? Besides sounding kinda vulgar, describing your vacation with a series of “dids” suggests that you’ve got a list (physical and/or mental) and your vacation success is being judged by how many checkmarks you end up with once you return home. I never ever want to be that sort of traveler.
Yet, when contemplating visiting a city like Paris for a week, it’s been hard not to succumb to a checklist mentality, because there are so many places and things to see and do there. For that reason, I’ve been consciously avoiding guidebooks and “must see” lists. I want there to be some surprise and anticipation when we get there. I don’t want to have seven days all charted out beforehand. Does that mean we won’t see as many things as humanly possible? Yes, it does. We’ve discussed it and the Beloved feels the same way, and I anticipate a lot of walking, which I think is the best way to get a feel for the place that you’re visiting.
That being said, there is one particular place, which probably isn’t in many guidebooks that I most definitely want to visit – you could almost call it a pilgrimage. For Christmas this year, the Beloved got me a book by Colin Field, the famous bartender of Bar Hemingway at the Ritz-Paris. It’s a book that in addition to recipes tells the history of the bar, which was known as The Petite Bar back when Hemingway and friends spent evenings there. Field also goes into his own philosophy of mixing drinks and serving guests. His goal is to find the best drink for a person given the time of day, their mood, their occasion and their group. I sort of aspire to that myself.
Bar Hemingway is one of the most famous bars in the world, having been visited for decades by heads of state, leaders of industry, famous composers, writers and actors. In a world where cocktail bars spring up and fade away so quickly, this bar has been serving up cocktails ever since there were cocktails. Gotta go.
That’s my Paris checklist. What’s yours?