Walking around for a month, feeling more confident, recognizing lots of landmarks, using the buses makes one think that it is now easy to find any place. It’s a gorgeous sunny day, so I checked Google maps and my paper map. Both tell me it’s only five minutes walk from Grand Opera to Trinite Church, which I wanted to see again for purely sentimental reasons. Thus it came about that I sailed out at 9 a.m., got onto my favorite bus 21 which took me to Avenue de l’Opera. As the saying goes, your Parisian photo album is not complete without a picture of the magnificent building with its golden statues. I dutifully took several pictures, admired the wide avenue, the sparkling statues and the blue skies. Confidently walked along, behind the Opera as per my map. And walked. And walked. Ah, the places I found! The huge Gallery Lafayette stores, the pretty Printemps; Gare Saint Lazare; parks and squares; cafés and restaurants; boulangeries and patisseries. At some point I even glimpsed the tall Notre Dame church on Rue Lafayette. From time to time, I even did the unthinkable – tried to ask passers by for directions. I realize now one should never do that. Lots of people are tourists like yourself, in search of the same or different places or maybe a la recherché du temps perdu, as Marcel Proust famously put it. Many locals would say they don’t speak English, quite often in English, and hurry on. But the worst are the kind Samaritans, the ones who are sure they know how best to direct the lost foreigner on their way.
I walked miles, and saw lots of pretty places. I am sure I might have walked a zillion miles more but I was nearing my limit of three hours in one go so to speak. And then my luck turned! I happened to glance in the right direction at the right time, and saw, not the church, but bus 21 going back. I followed its route, hopped on at the next stop, and came back home in time for lunch.