Jay took a half day on Thursday in order to pack and quadruple check that we had all the necessary paperwork and documentation for our trip. When it comes to traveling, he really is the child of Nervous Nancy and Paranoid Pete. Every time we get in the car or leave the house he does this little jig I like to call the triple check — he spastically pats each pocket to make sure his keys, wallet, and phone are securely in place. Sometimes he looks so nervous I worry he has forgotten his man parts. Because he came home so early, and it takes him all of ten minutes to pack, he spent the last hour and forty two minutes pacing and anxiously waiting for me to shut down my computer. Have you ever tried to work with someone staring at you with eyes that say, “If we don’t leave soon we are probably going to lose our tickets, get stuck on the train to the other train, never make it to Paris, and you will ruin the whole weekend?” No? Well let’s just say it’s not entirely conducive to productivity. On top of that, I had started the washing machine around the time Jay had gotten home. This was a mistake. As I scrambled to pack a few last minute items, I realized the washer had not completed its cycle. Because I really didn’t want my clothes to mold over the weekend, and both of us were anxious to leave, we attempted to trick the machine into being done (which was stupid and probably only added more time… pretty sure the machine was laughing at us). We then preceded to stare at the washing machine, willing it to stop spinning, and avoiding accusatory eye contact. But guess what? Despite the tense atmosphere around the washing machine, we only left 15 minutes behind schedule (which was probably still 45 minutes ahead of schedule), paused in the tube for about two minutes (in which I began sweating profusely thinking that we could actually miss our train, and worse yet, Jay would have been right to be so nervous), and made it in time for me to eat a lovely dinner of tomato soup heated in plastic. Remember how this freaks me out? I ate it anyway. I was too hungry to worry about dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals.
Taking the train to France was a piece of cake. We reached Paris a little after 10 pm and decided to take a taxi to our hotel — we (I) didn’t have the patience for public transportation. We hopped in a minivan with a man that reminded of Mr.Charleton (my freshman basketball coach). He got us to Hotel Carina and we quickly realized he saved us that night. We never would have made it without that man. Thank you, French Mr.Charleton.
Our hotel was quaint… it smelled a little funny… but it had a bed (2 twin beds actually), a shower, and a toilet with a seat. What more could a girl ask for? After we dropped our bags off we walked to the Eiffel Tower. I will admit a) that Jay did not get us lost and b) the Eiffel Tower is pretty freaking sweet. Kudos, France.
* Fun Fact: The Eiffel Tower is covered with 60 tons of paint every year to avoid corrosion. Just thought you all should know.
Breakfast was included with our room. I warned Jay the meal would consist of bread, meat, boiled eggs and warm yogurt (it’s how the Europeans roll – pun not initially intended). I was close — it was bread, meat, boiled eggs, semi-cold yogurt and cornflakes. Since I was trying to embrace the culture, I had a ham sandwich, yogurt and an egg… and avoided the cornflakes mostly because they looked like vintage cereal boxes (I didn’t trust that they weren’t just for decoration, even though they were listed on the menu).
On our way to the Louvre we stumbled upon the Musee d’Orsay. It looked like an important building and lots of people were going in, so we decided to follow the crowd (I know, be a leader, not follower. But considering we were in a foreign place, the people looked like respectable tourists, and it was broad daylight, it seemed like a safe bet). Turns out “musee” means museum in French and we found ourselves in one that was slightly larger than the Putnam (and by slightly, I mean 30x larger). We saw works from Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Millet… basically every artist to ever walk on this continent. I was just a little bit proud that I recognized some of the pieces; those art history classes finally came in handy, sort of. We spent about three hours perusing, and that was with skipping the boring stuff like furniture, pottery, and naked statues. Seen one naked statue, seen ’em all (ok, you’re right, sometimes they are fun to look at).
Although we could have spent the whole day there, I was on the verge of passing out from hunger and Jay was tired of looking at “stuff”. We started toward the Louvre, hoping to find a cute little cafe on the way. After looking at five different menus I couldn’t take it anymore. This is usually how it goes….
“That seems expensive. Let’s keep looking.” This can come from either of us, but let’s be honest, Jay is usually the frugal one.
Me: “Nothing looks that appetizing. Let’s try the one over there.”
Jay: “How about pizza? A burger?
Me: “I was thinking something light (preferably not something fried, covered in butter, or worth 1500 calories — I need to save that for gelato).”
Three restaurants later…
Me: I’m really hungry. That’s it. Next place we look at we are going in no matter what.”
Jay silently says a prayer of thanks.
We decided on the one that looked pretty similar to all the other menus we had looked at. We were seated next to three older women we affectionately dubbed Marty, Sue, and Andy (the French versions). Once we saw what they were eating, egg sandwiches with cheese on top and French fries, we hardly felt the need to look at the menu. We wanted that. Now. Twenty minutes later our plates were set in front of us and much to our disappointment they were not fried egg sandwiches topped with cheese. I was so sad — we both were. How could we have ordered the wrong thing? Oh, that’s right, because we are dumb Americans that don’t know what a Croque Monsieur is… food mistake #1. Just so you never make this monumental mistake, read this to learn about these sandwiches.
Remember how I said the Musee D’Orsay was large? The Louvre was a gigantic, HUGEmongous (yes, I know this is not a real word) monstrosity of a museum. I’m pretty sure it was the size of a small city… it was so BIG. You could probably spend a week in there and not see everything. We spent three hours. As cool as everything was, we just couldn’t muster up anymore excitement for ancient artifacts.
On our way to the Arc de Triomphe, we found ourselves wandering down Rue de St.Honore. Because I had not done my homework, I was unaware that we were walking down one of the most fashionable streets in the world. I started to get the idea when I saw numerous shops with about 20 items (total) in them; that’s always a clear sign that those 20 items are probably worth more than what I make in a year. It became really clear when I saw a few of the price tags, and was pretty much crystal clear by the time I saw the Gucci, Prada, and Armani stores.
Jay was adament that we get to the Avenue des Champs Elysees because a) he had to take a picture for Matt in honor of their time spent in high school French class together and b) it led to the Arc de Triomphe (which is just cool). It’s such picturesque street; each side of the road is lined with well-trimmed trees, and at the end, prominently sits the Arc de Triomphe.
After our long day of sightseeing, we decided to pick a restaurant close to the hotel. On our way back from the train station we noticed Creperie Contemporaine, and figured we wouldn’t be proper tourists if we didn’t eat a few crepes while in France. Best food choice of the trip. Seriously. YUM. Our first course of crepes were the savory kind – ham, cheese, tomato and mushroom — proper dinner food. Even though those were good, the dessert crepes beat them hands down. Since I’ve been here, I have discovered that a good banana and nutella crepe can make any day better. Of course, crepe or no crepe, I’m not sure if I can think of a better combination than chocolate and banana (real banana that is, not banana flavoring, old lady at DAIRY QUEEN who ruined my Blizzard).
I promise to post about the rest of our adventures soon. I apologize for any grammar mistakes.
PS I miss the sweet smell of Fall… and all of you.