Dread weighed heavy on George's heart when he saw the big suitcase come out. His people were going on what they called "a vacation" again. A week or more of stale food, a sitter who came around only once in a while and didn't understand who was boss was coming soon. But maybe there was a way out, a solution. He didn't know where his people were going... What is a "Paris," after all? But it had to be better than a week with only Billy and that strange sitter. Would his plan work and what would it be like to be a cat on vacation in Paris?
Cat Stories: George and Billy in Paris
When a cat gets tired of being left behind during vacations and figures out how to smuggle his way to Paris, what a story of adventure and discovery he has to tell!
A Funny Cat Story - Our Big Surprise in Paris
Looking back, I can't say who was more surprised, my wife and I or our two cats. One thing for sure, not one of us was prepared for what happened that late afternoon in Paris.
My wife and I flew overnight. With the six hour time difference between New York and Paris, this meant landing at the right time to catch a taxi into Paris, check in at our hotel in the Marais and relax with a quiet dinner. This would leave us raring to go, ready to make the best of our first day in Paris.
Cats Out of the Bag
You can be pretty jet lagged and mentally funky after a long flight across time zones. I never sleep well on planes, and so, I'm sleep deprived on landing along with everything else. My wife does better, but it's a grind for her too.
You should not be shocked to hear that when we got into our room and opened our suitcase for a quick change of clothes and two cats bounded out, we simultaneously and casually as ever said, "Hi, guys!"
Next, we looked at each other in horror. Then, we looked back at the cats blinking at the sudden light on the bed, also in horror.
George, our senior cat and good buddy, and Billy, his tagalong pal, had snuck past us by hiding under a layer of clothes and made it to France. Before feeling relieved that they'd survived what must have been a harrowing ride across the ocean, we were too stunned to know what to do next.
We were in Paris. And so were our cats. Only one of those things had been planned for.
Swinging Into Action
New Yorkers, for all our jaded refusal to be ruffled, are accustomed to adjusting to the unexpected, especially the unpleasant unexpected. Subways take unplanned routes with loud garbled announcements no one understands. Starting in April, a parade for one thing or another forces you to find alternate routes to travel a single block every weekend. Stuff like that, and worse.
My wife quickly resourced a glass for the cats to get some water, for which they must have been desperate and acted it. There were two other immediate needs that had to be met before we gave any thought to the ordinary things, like - what the hell were we going to do with them when we went out sightseeing, if we went out sightseeing?
Food was tied for item #1. It's competition was related. George and Billy would need a litter box. Soon.
Without telling them why, in our best, unpolished French, we asked in the lobby for the closest grocery store and got directions that, fortunately, my wife understood.
Classes we'd taken in preparation for our trip made her reasonably fluent in the basics. Me? When I exercised my right to speak French to the natives, I normally evoked an empathetic look. Parisians we met, I believe, admired my wife for bringing her mentally challenged brother to Paris with her.
But back to the cats.
Food was easy to find. We picked dry food because we were concerned that an untested wet food might unsettle their digestive systems. A litter box wasn't so easy. The grocery store had nothing we could use.
How do you ask for directions to a pet store in French? Do they even have pet stores?
Fortunately, our challenge was solved when we seized a discarded box of acceptable size. It wasn't a permanent solution, but for a week, it would do. It's as true for cats as it is for people: when you have to go, you have to go. Urgency can shove pickiness aside any day.
Feeling good about having figured a way to do what needed to be done with relative ease, we brought our haul back to our hotel with only passingly quizzical looks from the concierge. George and Billy were happy with the food and ecstatic with the litter box.
Relieved and starting to feel happy about their having showed up in Paris, we went out for that quiet dinner on our agenda and returned sleepy to cats who'd already dozed off.
We settled in and all was well until I reached during the night for a light switch and found instead the one that set a skylight in motion. It didn't take that long to explain to my frightened wife and cats that a prehistoric metal monster wasn't trying to tunnel into our room. She made me sleep on the other side of the bed afterward.
Cats in a Paris Window
Their First Morning in Paris
Cats in a Paris Window
Cat Stories: Touring the Sites of Paris
Finding the Way to the Eiffel Tower
In the morning, my wife and I took turns standing beside George and Billy who were transfixed by the Paris skyline, so different from what they saw in their New York window.
Then, we put them on leashes we were lucky to find the night before and walked down the street for a breakfast at the Pain Quotidian near City Hall. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and we all enjoyed watching the Parisians get started on their busy days.
Sightseeing With Cats
Back in New York, I'd help George tell the story of his amazing trip to Paris. His book of sometimes funny cat stories tells it best from his point of view. But I can give you some quick highlights.
- In the Louvre, George was unable to figure out what was so fascinating about looking at pictures that didn't smell like anything good and couldn't be touched.
- Billy joined George for a first as they took a boat ride, gliding down the Seine in a bateaux, eliciting shouts of "Chat! Chat!" when floating under bridges.
- On a beautiful pond below Place de la Concorde, the cats watched boats and ducks, constrained of course on leashes.
- Billy risked being kicked out of the Tuileries by helping himself to flowers bordering the walkways.
- Best of all, George realized his dream of being as high and free as the birds, looking down on the sprawling city from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
A risky strategy lead to an adventure none of us will ever forget.
Cat Stories as Only a Cat Can Tell Them
George Shares His Cat's Eye View
|Travels With George: Paris: A Cat's Eye Adventure|
Writing the Cat Stories
I'm sworn to secrecy about how I managed to translate George's story for this book. There are just some things cats don't want everyone to know.
I hope I captured his passion for adventure and travel. But I have to be honest, when this book sells at retail markets, everyone flips through to look at the pictures before buying. My wife did her part, illustrating our book with a dozen full page images of the cats enjoying their Paris visit.
One Good Thing Leads to Another
George and Billy Discover New York City
|Travels With George: New York: A New Cat's Eye Adventure (Volume 2)|