Thursday, May 27, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
I met up with Monica at 6:15 outside her house (we lived 5 minutes away from each other (which is handy at 6:15 in the morning) so that we could go to Gare St. Jean together, where we were meeting up with Jackie and Candy (we would meet up with Valerie in Paris, because she had opted to take an even earlier train). Nothing too exciting there. Except that I got angry because in between our naps on the 3 and a half hour ride from Bordeaux to Paris, Monica and I would occasion talk/squeal about how excited we were for this trip, and I don’t think the girl in front of us appreciated it, as evidenced by the flick of her hand over the back of her seat, which kind of silenced Monica and I abruptly, because she could have just as easily turned around and said “Pardon moi”, which we totally would have understood as “I’m so sorry to interrupt you, but it’s not even 8AM and I would love to just sleep a little more. Perhaps you could keep your voices a tad lower?”. Because 1) I seriously don’t think Monica and I were talking that loudly, and 2) We were really excited!. But she probably should have thought about it before she silenced us so rudely, because she might have realized that I had the power to kick the back of her chair for the next hour, while she wouldn’t have been able to reciprocate. Not like I took advantage of this, or anything, but basically, I REALLY hate rude people, and it made me mad.
Our day in Paris was relatively uneventful, but still a lot of fun. We decided ahead of time that because we had all either already spent a lot of time there, or because we were going to be back in the future, that it was going to be a relaxed day. We decided to take advantaged of the GLORIOUS weather by heading straight to the Eiffel Tower (which I had actually never even SEEN in person before), where we lounged by it on the grass for literally two hours. It was such a nice break from the coldness that is Bordeaux. And we saw a puppy! So that was good.
Jackie, Me, Valerie, Candy & Monica.
The Seine! Valerie & I are big Les Miz fans, so needless to say, we were excited to be there.
We ate lunch, went to Notre Dame, DRANK STARBUCKS FILTERED COFFEE, and eventually went to Montmartre towards sunset so that we could go to Sacre Coeur (which was pretty awesome, if you like basilicas and stuff). My opinion is definitely, however, that as cool as Paris might be, it’s definitely the seediest place I’ve ever been. Rome might be touristy too, but neither of my trips had the same seedy feel that Paris emitted. Like, there are Eastern European women EVERYDAY asking for money, and when you don’t answer their French, they come armed with a bunch of languages, so that you really have to ignore them until they go away. Also, the thread-bracelet scam guys were all over Sacre Coeur. And we definitely had to fend of drunk guys as we sat on the steps waiting for the sun to go down. I never felt afraid, or anything, and I liked all of my time in Paris, I just think that this characteristic sets it apart from the other cities that I’ve visited for me.
Our hostel, Le Village, was really nice – the four of us had our own room and bathroom and shower. Not that it really mattered, because we were barely going to be there because we were going to have to leave so early in the morning anyway to get to the bus to the airport in order to go to Rome (!). We knew where the official Aeroport Beavais bus was supposed to pick us up on the map, but we didn’t actually know where we were supposed to find it. Once we were all back in our room at night, Candy and I sat down to choose the fastest metro route to Port Maillot, where the buses left from. We had to be there by 6AM, so we were nervous about getting there in time, because there was no way we were NOT getting on that plane. To make a long story short, after one discussion with the guy at reception, a quick trip to the closest metro station to confirm that his advice about when the metro started running was correct (it wasn’t), another conversation with him about the best way to get a taxi in the morning, and an extra-early wake-up by me and Candy before everyone else just to ensure that there WERE taxis running in order to leave enough time if we were going to have to call one, the four of us (Valerie was staying with her aunt) were up, checked out, and in a taxi on our way to Port Maillot. All was well. Until we had been zooming through the dark streets of Montmartre for five minutes, when Monica apologetically realized that she had accidentally left her cell phone under the pillow in the hostel…….
Next Time: Rome?
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
1. Don’t type text messages while walking down the street (or, don’t do anything that involves not looking at your feet for that matter). You WILL step in dog poo.
2. Each and every cultural point WILL be closed between the hours of 12 and 2 (2 hour lunch breaks are necessary for anyone who is responsible for sitting down while selling tickets).
3. Ham and Fish definitely count as “vegetarian”.
4. A cappuccino is an extra large cup of espresso with whipped cream on top.
5. You can always have whipped cream on top of a drink if you so desire – for an extra 50 centimes, that is.
6. When your host mom asks you if you have your umbrella because one can never tell if it will rain or not, she means it.
7. Ordering a hot dog actually means ordering the sausages inside an entire baguette (and I say sausages as a plural because you will need at least two to fill up the length of the baguette).
8. If you aren’t putting butter on your rice or radishes, you’re doing something wrong.
9. Being in the middle of the street as you walk across authorizes the cars coming in your direction to speed up.
10. If you’re an older guy, and you need to ask a younger girl for directions to the nearest bookstore, it is apparently perfectly acceptable for the very next words out of your mouth to bluntly be “So, do you want coffee?” no matter how creepy you seem.
11. Don’t forget to find entertainment other than spending money on Sundays – even most grocery stores will not be open (and, when you tell your host mom that this is weird, prepare for her answer that OBVIOUSLY nothing is open– in what kind of world do people have to WORK on SUNDAYS??)
12. When you have a test to take on campus, your tram will break down.
13. Madeleines can be found in bags (à la chips) at the supermarket! It is important to eat a lot of these.
14. When you write Art History papers on Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, remember that while similar, the French words for “sin” and “peach” are not actually interchangeable.
15. Tabasco sauce exists in France – in the Italian section of the grocery store.
16. Think long and hard before explaining foreign concepts to your host mom – sometimes it’s better to stop the explanation before you reach a point when you no longer know how to clarify: “Ohhhh, yes Amelia, I think I understand what you are saying about zeez ‘frozen yogurt’. So, you have the yogurt, and you put the things on top, and then you make it cold somehow?”
17. Playing tag in the park is a perfectly acceptable pastime for a group 21-year-olds who have been cooped up in the rain for the previous four months.
18. Don’t even attempt to wait before eating the macarons you have just purchased at the fancy chocolate store. Simply looking at them will make them crumble.
19. When you ask if your host mom likes margheritas, she will get a gleam in her eye and will half smile, and and then will whisper “Yes Amelia. But only have two”.
20. French doors don’t have doorknobs, and even the keys that fit in the locks will almost never work. Be prepared by having a book with you to keep you busy while you wait for your 11-year-old host brother to come home from school so that he can let you in.
21. A jar of mini pickles is a must-have at any French dinner.
22. A 200-step staircases found inside cathedral bell towers are not subject to the same safety requirements found in other countries (i.e. America). Be careful of that surprise slope while you squeeze against the wall on your way up so that the people coming down can use the same space!
22. The exchange rate between the dollar and the euro will always start to improve just as you leave France.
23. After any French diner, you will always be offered yoghurt. ALWAYS.
24. It was always, in every circumstance, acceptable to wear stripes :)
So there you have it. Done! Can you believe it? I won't believe it until I'm back home in Burbank (kind of like the same way I won't believe my flight hasn't been canceled again until my plane is actually in the air). I hope my blog has been an accurate taste of ma vie bordelaise. AND, just because this is my last blog while on this continent, that doesn't mean that you get to stop reading! Stay tuned for more information/my official blog posts about my two weeks of European travel which I haven't posted yet.
Sigh. I miss macarons and pain au chocolate already! Wow. See you in Pacific Standard Time :)
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Friday, May 7, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010