10.08.2010 - 12.08.2010 18 °C
Well, it's hard to imagine, but I'm half-way through my 36 days in Paris. While I'm so very thankful to have this time in France (as I am thankful everytime I get to be here), I'm always ready to return home when the time comes. I thought I'd make a little list of things that I'm never going to take for granted again after being without them for 36 days:
- Diet Coke: Yes, it's number one on my list and here is why...it's the nectar of my life in the US and no matter how many times people try to convince me that "Coca Light", the French equivalent to Diet Coke, is the same or better than Diet Coke, I will remain true to myself. Let me tell you- it's NOT the same and it's definitely NOT better.
- My dryer: As happy as I am to have a washing machine in our little apartment, I can't quite understand how people on Paris dry their bed clothes without an actual dryer or a clothes line in the backyard. Case in point, today I decided to wash the sheets on the bed. And this is how I'm drying them: That's right, they are currently my curtains. Couple this with the fact that it is pouring down rain today and about 55 degrees outside, I'd say the chances of them drying fully before bedtime are slim to none. I may be using my bath towel to cover up with tonight.
- My blackberry: I know, I know, this is a very materialistic list, however those of you who know me are well aware of the fact that I am chained to my BB. And yes, this is something that is readily available in France, however the only cell phone I have access to is a slider phone circa 2006 that might as well be a rotary dial phone on a party line... With only having a temporary number, I get text messages from random people and sometimes it just rings...for no reason. When I get off the plane in Chicago on Aug. 31st, expect me to cry a little when I can turn on my BB and text you all!
If you're ever in Paris for an extended period of time, like I am, and get a hankering for some good ol' American junk food, I found just the place for you. This store called "Thanksgiving" seems to able to satisfy any craving (20 Rue Saint Paul, www.thanksgivingparis.com).
That's right- salsa, margarita mix and Lucky Charms. Sounds like what you have for dinner when you don't feel like going to the store and the cupboards are empty.
Now, I must supplement the list of things I miss with a list of things I love and can't get enough of while I'm in France:
- Baguette: While French bread might be an obvious choice here, anyone who has had the pleasure of eating a freshly prepared baguette knows what I'm talking about. There's something magical about what those bread makers can do with flour, yeast, and water. I love going down to the boulangerie and picking up bread everyday. So good!
- Cafes: I could sit at a cafe all day long and sip cafe creme if they didn't cost 4 euro a pop; I'm getting very used to being by myself, so it no longer bothers me to sit at a cafe and read and be alone, (Ok, it bothers me a little...give me a break), but a warm cafe creme sure does ease the pain. Well, that and wine.
- Religieuses: For those of you who don't know, religieuses are nuns. Well, they are also these little pasteries that are supposed to look like little nuns. Filled with chocolate creme, two little puff pasteries are stacked upon each other and "glued" together with even more creme. To die for. I've only let myself have two...so far.
As I mentioned, I'm growing accustomed to the idea of going out and doing things by myself. I've had several meals all by my lonesome this week starting with lunch on Tuesday. I went back to the Marais to do some shopping and stopped at a cafe for lunch. While I was enjoying my croque monsieur, thinking about how much I'd love to have Joey or Mom or Peanut here with me, I noticed that I was not the only "single" in the cafe. This gave me a boost to embrace my title as Solo Traveler, and not let it get me down that 90% of the time while I'm here, I'll have to do things by myself. After my epiphany, I took a very long walk down to the Hotel de Ville...
Crossed the river to browse at the bouquinistes (used book sellers)...
And then returned to the apartment, taking the long way through the old Village de Saint-Paul (where I found the store Thanksgiving).
On Wednesday I went to the Petit Palais to see an exhibit that I've been waiting to see ever since it was announced last winter: The Yves Saint Laurent retrospective. Yves Saint Laurent is my favorite designer, and while I own none of his clothes I hope to one day. (But I do have the perfume! Thank you Mom!!!) More than just a clothes designer, YSL is, in my opinion, an artist who successfully was able to translate the culture of the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, into his medium, reflecting not only the tensions of each decades, but also the joys. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and it did not disappoint.
I really appreciated the fact that the majority of the clothes were not behind glass; you could get right up to each garment and observe the intricate details of the deigns. You couldn't touch them, of course, but no one blinked if you stuck your nose right up to a dress (which I did several times) in order to see the stitching of an haute couture dress done by the hand of YSL himself. You couldn't take photos, so I bought the catalogue of the exhibition so that I could remember them all. I was also very inspired by one particular collection that I have read about many times and had seen photos of. YSL's collection of autumn/winter 71' collection brought back the asthetic of the 1940s/WWII/Occuptaion of France and was instatly hailed as a failure. For those of you who don't know, I'm fascinated by this time in history and I feel like this says something about the cultural mind-set of France in the 70s vis-a-vis their collaboration with the Nazis during WWII...anyway, I won't bore you with all that. Let's just say I had an amazing time!
After the Petit Palais, I had some time to kill before meeting Morgane and her mother, who was visiting from Bretagne (NW France) for a drink and then dinner. I took my time strolling up to the Place de la Concorde...
I have a lot of awkward photos of myself...
I love meeting my friend's families for the first time; I think it gives such an interesting glance into why peopl are who thay are. I'm sure my friends have thought that about me a time or two after seeing my Dad, my Mom, Brent, and myself together in the same room. They probably have that "Ah ha! I get it now..." moment when Dad and I make complimentary snarky side comments, or when Brent and Mom give us disaproving glances. Morgane's mother Elise is adorable and was very interested in talking to both Diana and myself about everything in the US: from education, to BP, to Obama, to Lady Gaga, she wanted to talk about it all. (Ok, I made the Lady Gaga part up!) We went near Place Saint Michel for dinner and walked around for about an hour trying to decide on a restaurant...and Morgane made the executive decision that Indian Food was the best choice. Sigh...ok, so I love Indian Food, but again, most food that has its flavor based in Spice (see my comments on Mexican Food last week) are notoriously bland in France. I reminded her that she would be held responsible if this food tastes as bad as the Mexican food last week. Upon entering, the waiter brought us a complimentary cocktail (Ok, not a bad start...); upon returning to take our order, I kindly explained that I was American, not French and that they could make my food spicy because it won't kill me. Well, at least they listened. It' wasn't overly spicy, but it was around a "medium" in the US. It was good, so Morgane lived to dine another day. If anyone is interested, the restaurant is Old Kashmir, 13 rue Gregoire de Tours, near the Metro stop Odeon.
We decided to walk back to the apartment, which took us to the Ile-Saint-Louis and offered us some beautiful sunset views of Notre Dame and the surrounding areas.
I don't know how it happened, but all of a sudden we were right beside my favorite Ice Cream place in Paris, the sinfully good Berthillon (29-31 Rue Saint-Louis en l'Ile). I must've taken a wrong turn because I swear I was headed straight home...oh well, as long as we're here...
3 boules de pamplemousse, mangue, et framboise! (3 scoops- grapefruit, mango, and raspberry) I know that the grapefruit sounds a little weird, but trust me- it's fantastic.
Thursday night we decided to check out a museum...
Most of the larger museums in Paris have one night a week where they stay open until around 10pm and the best part about this is from 6-10 it's usually about 3 euros cheaper. Musee d'Orsay conveniently was having their late night on Thursday.
The second best part about museum night is that the crowds of tourists ARE NOT THERE! Now, I know very well that I am, in fact, a tourist. But as someone who has traveled A LOT, I like to do my best to avoid long lines and throngs of people with large backpacks and screaming children. When most people are searching for a restaurant at 6:00pm, we arrived at the museum to find that there were about 6 people in line. On a normal nice summer day, in the morning or afternoon, the line would be hours long, wrapped around the building. I was able to wander around at my leisure, stop and look at paintings without being pushed and shoved, and not feel overwhelmed by people. It was the most pleasant experience I had ever had at Musee d'Orsay. Even though two of the floors were closed for construction (I later found out they are preparing to move all their Monet's for a huge exhibition this fall) the temporary rooms were well organized and you could hardly tell they were in the midst of a revamp.
After our museum tour, Diana spoke with one of the women at the information desk about doing a video for her French class this fall. She's made a couple so far, but Madame Isabelle was so sweet that I thought she deserved a shout out on the blog!
Thank you Isabelle for being so sweet and helping us out!
It was such a beautiful evening that a walk was necessary. Like I've said a million times, the sunset in Paris is unlike any other; the lights of the city start to come on and the sky turns a a hundred different colors.
Well, I think that's about all for today. Just so you know, I checked on my sheets and they are in fact drying...so I'm hopeful The last photo of the day is a shout out to my Joey...don't think I've forgotten about the promise you made me two years ago...one day we will stay at the Hotel Crillon. Maybe for our 40th birthdays???
I walked by and gazed in the lovely lobby...Siiiiggghhhh... Could Uncle Tom get us a good rate?