The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State

September 29

I recently had guests – a friend who had never been to Paris and her niece. It was great seeing the city through their eyes. On a pretty Sunday morning, we took a ride on a bateau mouche from Le Pont Neuf at the tip of Île de la Cite to the Eiffel Tower. Terrific and, imagine, I'd never done it before. Living in Paris, not just stopping by, means I can take my time getting to know the city. Only after living in New York for 20 years did I feel I knew the Big Apple.

So I am staying for a while longer. One of the things staying on in Paris will allow me to do is travel more in Europe, where there are so many different places to visit so close together. I took the train to Basel, at the juncture of France, Switzerland and Germany. Still each part of the city retains its national character. Basel, Switzerland, on the Rhine River, has medieval row houses and a much-decorated town hall but is otherwise uninspiring. Still, a few things set it apart from Paris (not to mention the U.S.). I went to a wellness center – a.k.a. a health club – where I swam laps, soaked in a hot tub, sat in the sauna and had a really masterful massage, all for about $55. I have yet to find a reasonably priced health club with such amenities in Paris.

Then I had rösti, the original comfort food, made of potatoes, butter and cheese. The Swiss really understand the importance of creature comforts as opposed to the French specialty, epicurean delights.

Life is good. No, let me be more exact: For me, life is better than it ever has been. This is not because I prefer Europe to the U.S. Far from it. It's just that, because I've come here at the right moment, I'm learning how to appreciate available pleasure, how to be happy. But don't worry. I'm American through and through. I've sent away for my absentee ballot so I can vote in the November election. That's something incredibly precious Parisians don't get to do, though I know they wish they could.

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