When I was a child, I could see our local bus terminus from my bedroom window, that’s if I craned my neck. At night, when the buses were all lit up I made up stories about the passengers sitting inside: where they were going, and from which magical journey they were returning. I had this overwhelming urge to be one of those passengers, setting off in the dark of night to explore the world outside my room. It was little wonder I fooled my little sister into believing I was the Princess of Bechunaland! That urge to travel has never left me. Just the mention of cities such as Paris, New York, Rome and London, sends me flying to my bank statements to see if I can afford to go. I never can and it never stops me: I have perfected the art of travelling on a budget and managing my overdraft!. My inspiration to visit Paris, came not from a wish to see the Eiffel Tower, beautiful as it is, but from the writings of Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald who walked the streets of this complicated city which is vibrant and modern, and yet calm and organic all at the same time. Strolling in Paris is my favourite travel adventure. It doesn’t cost anything and the parks and open spaces nurture my wanderlust, offering me something new every time I visit. One such place is the Promenade Plantee. It’s almost like the Parisians hold it close to their hearts as their own little secret hide-away.
Just west of the Bastille is the beautiful 4.7km elevated park built on a disused railway track. If you don’t look up you’ll miss it and that would be a sin. The park, the forerunner of the High Line in New York, runs over the boulevards and avenues of the 12th arrondissement and offers fantastic views of the city. The linear walkway is beautifully tended with shrubs, trees and colourful flowers. Of course I pretended to be nonchalant and casual, Parisian like, as I walked past artists and joggers, even lovers sitting on benches in leafy corners of the walkway. But I couldn’t help it, I just dashed from one side of the walkway to the other to peer over balustrades at the avenues below. When I visited,the wisteria, roses and iris were all in bloom. The sun shone gently through the trees sending dabbled shadows on the footpath before me. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Paris on a warm summer day just get the metro to Bastille, turn west and walk just a few hundred metres to the aqueducts. Look to your left and you see the quite ordinary concrete steps that lead up to this impeccably maintained linear park. The walk also traverses the Jardin de la Gare de Reuilly, a beautiful park right in the heart of the city, where in the summer the fountain jets out sparkling mineral water and the cool perfectly clipped grass beckons you to rest awhile.