Friday, June 7, 2013


Paris was a mix of confusion, miscommunication, beautiful sights, cold (but sometimes sunny) weather, and plenty of good company.

We first arrived around 1pm and were starving. Food was our absolute first priority. We left our bags in luggage storage and raced off to the Opera House to find a cute rooftop café for lunch. The metro station turned out to be a maze of misleading signs and arrows all seeming to point in opposing directions.

Once we finally made it out of the metro station, it was raining and we couldn’t find the café so we settled for starbucks, where we ordered familiar drinks and took full advantage of the wifi available. The starbucks was incredible: chandeliers, gilded mirrors, marble columns. It completely blew my mind. Without a doubt, it was the most extravagant starbucks I’ve ever seen. We found a little table in the back and settled in.

I was trying to meet up with my cousins, Christen and Tom, so I checked facebook to see if they were in Paris yet. Next, I had to check in to let the airbnb host know we wouldn’t arrive until that evening (I estimated around 7pm). Traveling is such an amazing experience, but I often forget the amount of planning and organization you need to have a good trip.

For some unknown reason, my phone wasn't working so I asked the barista to type in the address for me (I am entirely hopeless when it comes to French pronunciation/spelling--nothing is phonetic!) and sent if off to Christen via facebook. They were able to come out and meet us to do a bit of exploring together.

The Louvre with the cousins

Lover's bridge
We all started walking, passing sweet shops with colorful macaroon displays, clothing boutiques, and a multitude of souvenir shops. The first big sight was the Louvre. Pictures were taken in various arrangements and groupings, before we headed on to the Musee d’Orsay…arriving just minutes after the last ticket had been sold for the day. No problem, we still had tomorrow morning.

Macaroons! The chocolate ones are to die for.
Next stop, Moulin Rouge! With Tom in the lead (no one else had a shred of directional instinct), we headed off to find the Moulin Rouge. All the way, Cassie and I were singing show toons and exactly encompassing the stereotype of The Loud Americans. Once again, the transportation was not on our side. Although we pressed the “next stop” button, the bus driver thought it would be fun to skip a few stops and drop us off somewhere on the outskirts of Paris, leaving us to walk back in to town. Cassie, with her poor blistering feet and mysteriously swollen ankle, hobbled along in our wake.

Moulin Rouge

Cassie ate snails!

After discovering the Moulin Rouge we found a near-by restaurant and enjoyed a beautiful dinner in France, where the non-vegetarians tried escargot. Time had completely escaped us, and we left the restaurant sometime after 10, only then realizing that we had no idea if or when the luggage storage closed for the night. We raced off as quickly as we could (with Cassie’s injuries and the chaotic public transportation system) and got to the station to find the luggage storage completely locked up and inaccessible. With no other options, we headed over to find our airbnb host, now 4 hours later than I had estimated. We found him, sitting alone in his closed-up little café, reading a book and patiently waiting for us to arrive.

The view from our balcony

Because I had made reservations while studying in Florence, he had assumed we were “confused Italians” (which is apparently a stereotype). He was instead confronted with tired, lost Americans. The little room was advertised for its balcony, with a view of the Eiffel tower. The room was tiny and freezing, with one sunken bed in the middle and no spare blankets. We didn’t have extra clothes, towels, or even toothbrushes. But the one really amazing thing was the view. We got there just in time to watch the last light show at 1 am out on our little private balcony, before going to sleep.
We woke up bright and early, put on our shoes and socks from the day before, and headed out looking near homeless.

The neighborhood was well out of the city center, very residential. On our way to the metro, we found a little bakery with absolutely the most perfectly crafted, flakey, buttery croissants I have ever tasted.
We actually arrived at the Musee d’Orsay early (which doesn’t happen often for us) to meet Tom and Christen. I was almost beginning to think we had this Paris transportation thing down! We spent a few hours exploring the museum. There were many beautiful van goughs, Renoirs, and ___, along with ancient statues, vintage furniture, and more traditional paintings.

Sometime in the after noon, we all said our farewells and Cassie and I left for the Eiffel Tower. Our plan (which always seem to be significantly different than reality) was to get a baguette, brie, and wine and have a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower. The little shops were either closed or did not have what we were looking for, so after wondering for quite some time, we just decided to walk around the tower, before going to a café. Along our way, we saw a huge protest in motion. I had noticed people all day wearing T-shirts or carrying flags with families on them (much like the stick figure families, often displayed on the rear windows of mini vans). Now there was a whole parade of them that seemed to go on endlessly, all dressed in pink and blue. There was pumping music, making it feel much like a gay-pride parade. Given recent politics in France, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to learn that it was, in fact, and anti-gay marriage parade. Still, it made us sad.

We ended up filling up on French wine and fancy cheese (and LOTS of bread) for lunch. We tried blue cheese, goat’s cheese, feta, and some kind of cheese with mold in it. Our favorite was the goat’s cheese. Turns out, moldy cheese just isn’t our thing.

Finally, it was time to head to London! We picked up our luggage, bought our Chunnel tickets (after much struggle and more money than planned), and boarded our train! We had bought a chocolate macaroon to split for the train, which was amazing. A perfect end to our adventures in France.

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