Sunday, April 19, 2009

Paris II III and IV

So, back to Friday. I took tons of pictures at the Place de Concorde and then walked back up the Champs Elysèes. On the way down I had seen a homeless guy laying on the ground and I thought I should buy him a sandwhich to re-boot my karma. I used up the good stuff travelling here. Unfortunately the homeless guy was gone by the time I got back to where he was, so I bought some chocolate for myself instead. :-P But then I gave a euro to an old woman with a cane and a cup in her outstretched hand.

Maguy picked me up back at the Arc de Triomphe and we drove to the Seine and got on a nice big boat with oodles of orange chairs. As we meandered down the river the voiceover told us about all the historic places on starboard and port in a dozen different languages. It got a bit chilly towards the end, but it was a great way of seeing the sites. We passed the Louvre, Notre Dame, the first castle in France that was later converted to a prison which held Marie and Louis before they were beheaded, the Eiffel Tower, and many others.

Maguy had a doctors appointment at 3:00, so she dropped me at the Eiffel Tower and went to do that. I waited in line for a while and listened to people around me (pretty much the only thing one can do when travelling alone--eavesdrop) and saw a woman sucker a few Euros out of a kid. She didnt even look very poor, and it was totally unfair of her to ask a kid who couldnt have been more than 12. After the usual security hurdles and more queing and ticket-buying, I got myself into a lift full of excited people and went up to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. The view was wonderful. After walking all around and taking pictures for people (met some nice kids from LA and New Jersey) I qued for the next lift to the top floor. Hol. It was higggghhh!!! The lift was the only really scary that voice in the back of my mind saying ooooo this better not break!! You can always spot the English kids in the crowd--the ones without coats. They would always rather freeze and show off their fashions than be sensible and warm.

Maguy picked me up at half past five. I was getting a headache and feeling a bit ill, due to a combination of gluten intake, squinting in the sun ( packed my sunglasses and forgot to wear them), and city air. So I fell asleep in the car and took a nap when we got home. The plan was to go out for chinese food, as Maguy and Phillipe do every friday night; but upon waking I felt even worse. So I stayed in and slept the night through.

Woke up at ten and read a bit and got up at half past. I have no idea what happened mind-blank out right now. But I know we had lunch in...oh but we went out... got some gluten-free bread...but I did something before that...cant remember what it was. Great. Swiss cheese brain. Anyway, after lunch Maguy drove me to Versailles and got me all set up with an English audioguide and left me to explore. Dang that place was crazy. Glitz everywhere. Yikes. Beautiful though; I cant imagine building it, the amount of work that went into it is mind-boggling.
I rang Maguy and Phillipe when I was finished and we arranged to meet at a restaurant/tavern place just down the street. I found the place but it was way early, so I strolled around Versailles in the rainy foggy weather (made me feel all cozy...thank you England) and bought some ovverpriced hot cocoa from some nice french guys and then found the cutest little shopping place ally type thing with amazing little stores and boutiques and restaurants. And one store was the best of all. A TEA SHOPPE!!! Thè et Cafè. It looked closed so I kept walking, but then went back to check again because, well, I love tea. The sign said they should be open for another 10 minutes, but the key was already in the door. I could see a little old man inside so I knocked on the glass and waved and he smiled and came over and said bonjour and I the same and I asked, in french, if he spoke english, and he said NOOO! But then he smiled and said, "a little bit." So I asked him what his favorite kind of tea is and said I would like some of that. Then I asked him if he had any lavender scented teas and he said, " one moment," and left the shop. He came back a few seconds later with another man, presumably from next door, who spoke better English and served as a translator. It was so great! I got some really nice Russian Earl Grey which I tried last night and it was delightful. Oh and then I got some chocolate because he recommended it and this little old man was so precious I would have bought anything.

I had a lovely meal with Maguy and Phillipe--I ATE SNAILS!!! They were delish; kind of earthy. And a salmon salad and creme brulée and a very nice white wine. Came home full and went to bed.

This morning I got up around nine and Phillipe said if I hurried he could take me to Le Mal Maison (home of Josephine and Napolean) on his way to tennis. So I did, and I gave myself a tour of the mansion and the grounds and educated myself with a bit of French history. I suffer through daily quizzes from Phillipe about everything I saw and what did I learn and I'm expected to remember the name of every friggin thing and the history behind it and its just impossible and makes me feel stupid. Maguy picked me up and we met Phillipe at the Hippopatomus restaurant and i had the biggest burger you've ever seen and loads of bread rolls and yeah, I felt kind of sick afterwards. But it was so cute, all these things happen in french tat I dont understand, and then theres a big suprise! Like Phillippe was talking to the waiter and Maguy said he was negotiating about getting us a cup of coffee, so I thought okay we'll have coffee. Wrong! We got espresso and chocolate mousse and creme brulée! Yummmm.
Then Phillipe gave me a tour of the Opera (beautiful!) and took me to the Louvre.

I walked the grounds just a bit, then went into the big glass pyramid and down the escalator and got my ticket and walked around and saw the Winged Victory and the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper and David and Goliath. But then they started closing things up and I looked at my ticket and it turns out they close things at I wroked my way back outside, stopping first at Starbucks (dont judge me) then at a gourmet chocolate store where I got a small bag of champagne truffles for €13.26. Again, don't judge. Then I walked barefoot int eh Toullerie Gardens for an hour or so, basking in the sunshine with everyone else.
Phillipe picked me up with Teddy, whom he had picked up at the train station just before. Teddy's cool. Yummy supper, writing this, now time for bed. Yawn.

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