Thursday, February 4, 2010

Paris...c'est parfait!

This past weekend, Elise flew into Paris so I went up there and we spent the weekend. And what a weekend it was. Pretty sure it just confirmed my dreams of living in Paris one day. But the trip, of course, had some minor setbacks.

Are you kidding me?

So I left right after class to go to the train station to make sure I could catch my 1pm train to Paris. I was totally in good shape and made it there no problem. The train arrives and I follow all the Frenchies on and take my seat. The train to Marseilles (where my connection was) rode all along the coast, the sun was shining, I was listening to some Regina Spektor, it was just fabulous.

Then it was just about time to get off. The men who punch the tickets came out and asked us all for our tickets. He was speaking to the two people behind me in French and told them they had to pay 25 euros but I clearly didn't think he was talking to me too, until he came to me and said 25 euros please. Uhhh...what? So I obviously asked why I needed to pay him seeing as I had already paid for the train ticket.

Apparently I was sitting in first class and I only paid for second class. So I apologized, explained that I wasn't from around there, had never taken that train and volunteered to move back to second class. He said, as the French always do, "Ce n'est pas possible", meaning that's impossible, and demanded I pay. At this point, I got mad. If the two people who were sitting behind me and were from France didn't know, how was I, the ignorant American, supposed to know this rule? So I proceeded to lie to this nasty man, telling him I didn't have 25 euros. He told me I better find it or else I wasn't getting off the train. Clearly at that point, I handed over the money but gave him my best death stare along with it. Yea, that showed him.

Hostel Man

I finally arrived in Paris that night, and after successfully navigating the Paris metro by myself (winner!), I made it to the hostel in Montmartre where I was supposed to meet Elise. She luckily was downstairs when I got there, and it was so good to see her.

We asked for another key to our room and hostel man just couldn't get himself together. Because Elise made the reservation for both of us, he somehow double-booked my bed, and I was bedless. 25 Euros down, and bedless. Hostel Man was like well you two could share a bed and cuddle..then he got this creepy grin on his face and he was pretty much a lost cause after that. We refused because we had already paid for our own beds so then he was like okay let's see what we can do. And we got upgraded from the 6 person bunk bed community shower room to our own double bed room with a private bathroom..score! Although it took hostel man 45 minutes to figure this situation out, we were very thankful for his stupidity that resulted in our fabulous upgrade....the only downside is that it was on the 7th floor, and there was no elevator. But after eating delish French food all weekend, it was a blessing in disguise.

First night we just went out to a restaurant, ordered some croque-monsieurs (a fabulous toasted ham and cheese baguette) and planned out our weekend. Because we are both very type A, we each brought tour books and directions for just about everywhere and anywhere in Paris. The other kids at the hostel were either impressed with our planning or were making fun of our neurotic-ness...probably the latter, but whatevs.

Free Tour

Thursday we took part in a Free Tour, which is this company that has young adults give free tours of major European cities...the name kinda says it all. The 3 hour walking tour was fabulous and we saw all the major tourist attractions: Notre Dame, Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Pont Neuf, Tuillieres Gardens, Hotel de Ville, all that good stuff. Our guide was this perky Irish woman who fell in love with a French man, and he whisked her off to Paris...don't worry, I'm working on it.

After the tour, we went to the Musee d'Orsay to see some Monet and Renoir and got yelled at multiple times for taking pictures where we weren't supposed to. Oops.


Its occasions like that when I wish it were still 2009..PUB CRAWL 09 sounds way better.

Anyways, we met up with a bunch of people from our tour for this pub crawl to 4 bars in Montmartre near the Moulin Rouge then we went to a club on the Champs Elysees (that’s the classy avenue the runs through the center of Paris). And it is still so strange being able to go into a bar. I swear a 12 year old could walk into any bar in France and order a drink and no one would say anything, because I look like I'm a middle schooler and I've never been ID'ed.

We went with some girls from Australia, and Aussies really love to party. They were so much fun and with some kids from Scotland too, who hitch hiked all the way to Paris as part of a fundraiser. They got people to sponsor them and all the money went to charity and they all got to go to Paris! I wish we could do that back home except for no one would pick us up and the only people who would, prrrrrobably wouldn't be dropping us off anytime soon.

It's just the Mona Lisa

The next day we did the Louvre and the Centre Pompidou. I had already been to the Louvre but Elise had never been so we of course hit up the Mona Lisa and Venus di Milo. Unfortunately, Elise did not have her morning coffee and was unimpressed by the Louvre. There were however, two girls looking at the Venus di Milo and they just couldn't keep their hands off her...literally. These girls were like hugging her, and sitting on her and posing with her. Like hello, this poor woman is 3000 years old...maybe you shouldn't touch her?

But things looked up once we got to L'As du Falafel for lunch. Oh. My. God. Best thing I've ever had in my life. The falafel at this little place in the Jewish district of Paris was absolutely to die for. I'm usually a fast eater but it's safe to say we both inhaled our falafel. Words can't even describe how enjoyable that meal was.

Then on to the Centre Pompidou. The building is built to look like it’s inside out so that's pretty cool in itself and inside is a bunch of modern art exhibits. We went to the furniture design exhibit, which was very cool and everything we saw reminded me of Maddy. There was this desk that looked like colored pencils and a notebook, and once again, these ladies were just so excited about it, they went right up to it and tried to open it like a notebook. I'm not sure if this is a widely accepted thing to do in France, but touching art exhibits at home, yea it's just not okay.

Sneak Peak of My Dream Life

That night, my mom's childhood friend, Nancy, who lives in Paris, invited us out for dinner, which was so fun and so nice of her. She is married to a French man, and has two daughters from Russia, and they all live in this beautiful Parisian apartment, practically neighbors with the Eiffel Tower. And her job is brand management of a cosmetics company. Dream come true? I think so.

They took us out to this very French restaurant and we ate so well. The little girls were putting us to shame with their fluency in French, English and Russian, and they were only 5 and 7. I had the best chocolate mousse I have ever had in my life and instead of giving after dinner mints, apparently at classy French restaurants, they give these delish little cookies. So when it was my turn to take a cookie, I chose which one looked most appetizing obv, but was scolded by the 7-year old to take what was in front of me because choosing was considered rude in France. My bad.

Last Day

For our last day, we walked around Montmartre. It is such a beautiful area with the Sacre Coeur and an amazing view of the city. For some reason, when looking out onto the city of Paris, we couldn't seem to spot the Eiffel Tower...and you'd think it would be pretty hard to miss. So I decided to ask a French woman where it was because it is def picture worthy and she pointed at some tiny speck in the horizon that she claimed was the Eiffel Tower. I wasn't so sure she was right so we walked around the corner and BAM..lo and behold the Eiffel Tower. That is another thing I noticed about Parisians...they are unaware of their surroundings. Multiple times in Paris, we would ask people where streets were, and never did anyone know. More than once it was the next street over or a block away, and they had no idea. Either that or they just thought it was funny to play with the stupid American tourists.

We then found this fabulous creperie for dinner. I had a chicken and spinach galette for dinner and a delishhhh Nutella crepe. Although the food was absolutely fantastic, the service was kind of unbelievable. First we were seated no problem. Then they asked us to move to make room for another party. Then they asked us to move again to a 4-person table, and they seated 2 randoms right next to us. The waiter clearly didn't like us, and he was not impressed at all that I was at least attempting to converse with him in French. Of all the people I met in Paris, he was the only one who fit the snooty Parisian stereotype. And for that, he got no tip. But they don't really tip in France so I probably didn't make too much of a statement.

A Little Too Obsessed with La Tour Eiffel

Then we were off to the Eiffel Tower to see it sparkle. We made it just as it started sparkling and it was so beautiful. I am absolutely in love with the Eiffel Tower. I totally would marry it except for someone actually already is married to it...not even lying, we learned it on our tour. So we pretty much used up Elise's entire memory card (not mine because my camera broke the first day we were there....tragedy) and took so many pictures of us and the Tower from about every angle possible. While we were trying to master the art of taking jumping pictures, we lost track of time. By the time we realized we only had 30 minutes till our train to Nice departed.

We pretty much both had a panic attack on the subway to the train station, realizing we might very well miss our train. By the time we got to the right subway station, we had about 4 minutes until our train was supposed to leave. Thank god for those Turkey Trot training days because we sprinted thru the entire station and couldn't catch our breaths until we were already taking off. We made the train with about 2 minutes to spare. It was quite the adventurous ending to our journey.


In my management class on Monday, my professor asked us all to read an article. While we were all supposed to be reading this article, he was making hand puppets in front of the project and absolutely mesmerized by the creatures he was making on the screen. Clearly he thought no one was looking, but my friend and I couldn't stop laughing. Then the fire alarm went off. Who knew there were fire drills in college classrooms? Well, I didn't and I got so confused thinking it was a real emergency. Then, as if I was in 3rd grade, I got separated from my class on the way out of the building and had to join and stand with another class. I then entered the building 20 minutes after the rest of my class and when I walked in, all the French students snickered...I'm such a newb.

In French class we were supposed to say what we did that weekend. I said I went to Paris and saw "les exhibitions" a La Louvre. Unfortunately, "les exhibitions" technically means people "exhibiting" themselves aka flashing you. Maybe Elise would have been more impressed with the Louvre if that's what we saw?

Ventimiglia markets and Monaco tomorrow, 5 midterms next week, then off to Italy for a week!

A tout a l'heure!

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