Thursday, February 25, 2010
Paris: I've never eaten so many baguettes
Sorry I don't know why the pics are all at the top. I tried to put them in after certain paragraphs. Oh well.
SO this past weekend I spent the weekend in Paris! Tre chic. We flew out of Shannon airport (which is super small and surprisingly easy to get around) to the Beauvois airport which is waaaaaay outside of Paris. But oh well. We hopped on the bus and an hour later were dropped off, found a metro and had a slight panic attack because we had noooo idea how to read it. But I called the hostel, they gave me detailed instructions and we were on our merry way. We checked into Aloha hostel, ran to get some groceries before the kitchen closed, made pasta, ate delicious goat cheese on baguettes, and then walked 20 minutes to the Eiffel Tower. It was all lit up but I didn't feel like it was the most romantic thing in the entire world. I thought it would be...bigger? And more imposing? But it was just kinda chillin there and the men shoving cheap keychains in my face didn't help. But it was still cool and beautiful in its own way. We snapped some pics and headed home to bed.
Friday we stared our day with really delicious cereal (I think it was granola with dried fruit, but still!), baguettes with jam and butter and chocolately hot cocoa. Yummm. Then we took a 3 1/2 hour FREE walking tour through Sandeman's Free walking tours. It was great--our tour guide was Irish and she said what brought her to Paris was a man, and she's still there. It was really cute. Anyway we saw some major sites, such as the Notre Dame, Latin Quarter, the Lourve, Pont Neuf, Pont de Arts, etc etc. We learned about the most romantic bridge in the world, where couples come and attach a lock to it with their initials written on engraved on it and throw the key into the river. I think it's hopelessly romantic and I found some really funky and cool locks. The most memorable one had my initials on it. one had cows on it and the other was the shape of a big red heart. It was awesome. We also learned about the Pont Neuf, and how one of the kings had all the faces of his drunkard friends carved onto it. Our guide called it a "medieval facebook." Haha. We also saw the Tuileries Gardens which were....sparse. Back in the day they considered grass a weed and uncontrollable, so it's mostly sand/dirt. Weirdddd. We also stopped for lunch and I had SUCH a delicious baguette with chicken, grilled veggies and pleeeenty of goat cheese. So the walking tour was really cool and I'd highly recommend it to anyone going to a city where they give the free tours. Work it.
After the tour we decided to walk down the Champs-Élysées. It's the main street of Paris, and honestly kind of reminded me of Times Square. Allll sorts of people--tourists, super rich looking women in fur coats and lots of make up, families, etc. On our walk down the street we found Laduree, apparently a really famous tea room that has the most beautiful pastries. We snapped a bunch of pictures before they told us not to, but oh well! We got some macaroons--I got pistachio, and the girls got chocolate and rose petals, which they said actually tasted like rose petals. We all split the last 2, caramel and raspberry, but I like mine the best (naturally). Then we kept walking down to the Arc de Triomphe, tried to get to the top for free but couldn't because we're not in the EU, and took some pics. It's quite huge and...arc-y. Afterwards we headed to Angelina's tea room, a little place that someone named COCO CHANEL used to frequent. The line was OUT the door, but they have famous African hot chocolate which actually tastes like the most scrumptious magical chocolate bar melted into a mug with real fresh whipped cream. It was amazing and ridiculously expensive, so we all split 2 "pictchers" and each got a teacup full.
Then Abby and Audrey were hungry, so we sat down with them and chatted while they ate croque miseurs and we gabbed and had all sorts of girl talk fun. Plus we were absolutely exhausted from all the walking around, so it was nice to sit. Afterwards we headed to the Lourve to see all sorts of famous stuff, obvs, and it was way cool because we got in for free after 6pm because we're students and it was Friday! Holllla. So we spent about an hour and a half there and took the metro to Pigalle to see the Moulin Rogue, Sacre Couer and Red Light District. Oh my goodness. I've never seen anything like this street before, with SEX in blaring red lights on every other building, creepy shops and "entertainment venues." It was a little disconcerting, to be honest, for my young and innocent eyes. But we got a pic of the Moulin Rogue, which is actually quite smaller than I thought, and ate dinner at a cafe across the street. I got a croque madame--a ham and cheese sandwhich with eggs and cheese melted on top. Yum! Then we got crepes, naturally, and started the loooooong trek up cobblestone hills to Montmarte. We found the area and immediately understood why they say Paris is for lovers, or whatever it is they say. It's such a charming little area with beautiful buildings and tons of cafes. We walked in the wrong direction forever, got pointed in the right one and saw the Sacre Couer, which is huuuuuge. I think, though I'm not sure, that Joan of Arch was put on trial here? Or something like that. But we sat on the steps listening to the guitar player singing American songs and thoroughly enjoyed people watching and the music. Then we hopped on the metro and passed out. Phew! Done with a super full day!
Saturday we went to Versailles and got in FO' FREEEEE! It was great, we flashed our Irish immigration cards (which we didn't think would work) and they let us in. The palace is crazy and big, though it's hard to imagine people actually living there. Plus, I've seen quite a few palaces in my day (ain't no thang) so I wasn't toooo shocked by it all. To be honest I enjoyed Marie Antoinette's house and area better. I like the decorations more and the grounds were beautiful and twisty and it was great to get lost in them. After we took some silly jumping pictures with my gorilla tripod and couldn't stand any longer and were grumpy with hunger, we walked into town and got lunch. I got some sort of fried up meat and tziazicki? sauce. Yummo!
When we got home we decided to do backrub trains because we were soo so sore from walking around and being on our feet all day. So we did that. got some dinner fixin's and got ready for a pub crawl through the free walking tours. However, on our train ride there, we wondered if it was sort of a scam. They take you to 4 pubs and one really exclusive clubs and you get drink specials all night. HOWEVER, none of us wanted to spend money on drinks, so what was the point of this? Well, we decided to do a drive by and check out who was there and decided if there were more North Faces than we wanted to see, we'd peace out. We didn't want to be hanging out with bros and sorority chicks. So we walked past, saw FIVE GIRLS, 2 of them in North faces. Naturally we kept walking, got back up to Montmarte and split a bottle of wine at a charming restaurant with a piano man and French singer. It was awesome and we had great fun chatting and stuff. Then home to bed!
SUNDAY is kind of a blur. We were going to go to a really fun outdoor flea market, got on the metro and I should've realized by the people getting off at the stop that maaaybe this wasn't what we thought it would be. It was more of a gypsy market with stolen electronics and one shoe laid out on blanket? Why would I want 2 shoes when I could get one? Obviously. ALso people had canned corn and other weird stuff laid out. Sooo we walked through, hopped back on the metro and laughed a bit about it later. Every trip has one little blip :) So we went to try to find the Marais neighborhood, stopped in a cafe to get coffee and croissants and it was delicious! Afterwards we couldn't find the neighborhood so we decided to go to the Notre Dame, which sort of made me feel funny to walk through it during a church service. But it was grand and beautiful. Then we went to the Musee D'Orsay and saw all kinds of impressionist art. I saw a bunch of paintings I've learned about in my English classes, so that was pretty awesome. And Monet, Van Gogh and Renoir. Then we got lunch after being waaaay cultured out, headed to Montmarte to see it by day and spent some time there shopping around and keepin' it real. We saw this awesome wall where "I love you" is written in tons of different languages. I loved it. And the small children that were playing in the park. We all felt really creepy watching them and smiling and stuff, but I really miss my little babies at home. I really want to hug a child..preferably one of my nieces/nephews, but I'll take whatever I can get. Then we went back to the hostel, relaxed, and drank some wine. Then we went BACK to Montmarte to eat dinner at a restaurant with a 10 or 14 euro special 3 course thang and I got French onion soup, steak and coconut tart. It was decent, though my baguette from lunch the first day was probably more exciting. Anyway afterwards we headed to bed!
MONDAY we walked to the top of the Eiffel Tower and I really don't see how it's so romantic. It was just a big machine. But I guess for other people it's romantic. Anyway then we went to a famous cemetery where lots of famous people are buried and we saw Chopin's grave and kissed Oscar Wilde's grave, which is some sort of weird tradition. Then we went home!
Wow we were busy and that actually took me like, a half hour to write. Man oh man!