The air was clear and fresh, the smell of buttery mussels and escargot lingering in the table-crowded alleyways, and the sun was bright but without creating too much heat. The day was perfect for adventures.

Cobblestone streets that listed to one side, sometimes a stone dislodged or missing altogether. The buildings appeared ancient, yet filled with all the modern conveniences. Several accents and several languages blended together in a careful orchestra of white noise in the background. Don’t speak one language? Try another! It takes five to live and work in this town efficiently. People here must live proudly.

Shops line the streets. There are so many sales we wonder if they are actually 30-70% off, or if these “sales” exist all year so that the red tags attract foreign customers who can’t miss a deal. There are furniture and clothing, perfumes and chocolates, soaps and spas. There is something for everyone here. No one can go unhappy for too long.

We explored the Grande Place today. I bought a souvenir for a baby that will never remember the gift. It is, of course, more for his parents who will appreciate it and consider it one of the most amazing things ever. Maybe someday it will go into a box of keepsakes and be passed down to the recipient when he has children of his own. Perhaps it will be tossed the moment it becomes dirtied with baby sick.

I digress.

The city was covered with flea markets today. Tons of tented vendors line the streets and try to convince you to visit for a moment. While everything is amazing and beautiful in its own right, there are very few items that catch my eye as we wander.

We also visited no less than five chocolate shops. Samples were had at each. Some of them even treated their confectionery creations as jewelry, in terms of presentation. We learned the “proper” way to sample chocolate, but were too eager and ignored the freshly acquired knowledge in favor of devouring the sweet morsels placed in our palms.

Now I rest in a comfortable room, reclined on a comfortable bed, writing… and trying not to nod off. A documentary about the Tour de France plays on the  television, completely in French. The air conditioner mounted high on the wall cycles between silence and the white noise created by the rapid blowing of air. I would open my window, but it opens into an alleyway that is not precisely attractive. I am comforted, however, in my undeniable ability to escape the building should it catch fire.

My eyelids are so heavy. I guess I’m not getting any reading done tonight…

I hope to find some fun trinkets at the market tomorrow and I hope we have time to visit one of the interesting attractions constructed for one of the World Fairs before we go. Regardless, this has been an excellent trip thus far.

Based on the context clues, can you guess where I am?


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