05.08.2010 - 06.08.2010
Oh, where do I start? I've had a busy two days and, no, my paper is not finished so don't even ask. The weather has been a little temperamental lately; you never know if the sun is here to stay or if the clouds in the distance are going to unload a storm on you at any moment. I swear, every day it has been hot and cold, blindingly sunny and rainy all in one day.
Thursday morning I braved the clouds and the threat of rain to explore the Promenade Plantée, a unique garden walk in my neighborhood that was constructed on an old viaduct that ran east out of the city of Paris, but had long been shut down. Instead of demolishing the structure, the city built a wonderful path where people jog and walk elevated above the street; you don't have to worry about cars, bikes, or stepping in dog poop (the French let their dogs "plop-plop" wherever and rarely pick it up; when walking about in Paris it's a good idea to occassionally glance down to make sure you don't take an extra little present back to your hotel) because dogs are not allowed on the path.
As you can see, you don't notice that you are three stories above the street when you're on the path; all you see are the beautiful flowers and tree tops. However, there are moments when you can glance over the edge and look down at where you are. The entire path runs about 4.5 km to the east, out to the Bois de Vincennes, but I only went about 2 km of the route and back. At the Reuilly Gardens, the path connects back with ground level.
I went out on the Promenade during the lunch hours, and that seems to be the Nouveau Chic thing to do for business people right now; instead of taking your two-hour break from lunch and going home, as is tradition, they go work out or they go to the gardens and lay on a bench and sleep. Literally, I saw men in business suits with their briefcases dead asleep...and I don't think they were homeless.
Above, you can see the Gare de Lyon, the train station that I use more often than any other in France, and you can see how high up you are on the Promenade. Below is what the viaduct looks like from street level. There are many artists' shops and galleries in the building underneath the Promenade and sometimes you can see them at work.
Thursday evening, fed up with reading and being in my apartment, I took my dinner down to the Eiffel Tower, one of my favorite things to do. It doesn't matter how many times I'm in Paris, this never gets old. I know many of my colleagues, "serious philosophes" who probably think I'm ridiculous for loving a monument that is probably the most touristy, most over replicated landmark in the world, but I don't care. One of the things that always strikes me is that everyone there is happy, whether it's tourists seeing it for the first time, Parisiens hanging out with their friends, people strolling on their paths...everyone who comes to the Eiffel Tower does so to have a good time.
I packed myself a nice little dinner and had a pretty comfortable set-up on the towel I borrowed from the apartment on the Champs de Mars, which is the grassy area you can see in one of the pictures above, behind the Eiffel Tower. I always like to include food pictures, so it's like you were there with me!
Here's to you my friends! I was enjoying a tranquil evening of people wathcing, when I was rudely interrupted by the ever-present 20-something French male "out on the prowl"; they catch the scent of an American girl, especially one who is by herself and thus more likely to give them the time of day, and they come running like bees to honey. This particular gentleman's name is Soufian, born in Algeria, a cook in a restaurant in the 13th arrondissement, and apparently desperate for a wife. But, not just any wife- an American wife. I learned this rather quickly after he found out where I was from. I swear, I'm going to start saying I'm Canadian. No one's harrassing Canadian girls for their rights to citizenship. Anyway, Soufian asked if I was married because (and I quote), "My parents have many money. They pay for you. 10,000 euros." Sensing my hesitation, or maybe the fact that I laughed in his face, he upped the ante. "Ok, ok 15,000 euros. And you can have whatever kind of wedding you want! But, you have to become Muslim." AH HA! Here was my out. "You know, Soufian," I replied. "Your offer is mighty tempting, and although I'm sure my boyfriend wouldn't mind the extra cash, I don't think they let American girls bring back Muslim boys from foreign country. It's against the law now...you know, because of George Bush." I don't think he got my joke because he added, "Well, if you no can, you have friend? I give you money for a friend? Any girl will be fine..." This guy was starting to make me wish I'd stayed home. After offering to buy my some champagne ("Non, merci.") he took up the topic of American movies, specifically his love for Leonardo DiCaprio. After I offended him with my statement that the Godfather was a better movie than the Departed, he finally left me alone. Victory! Ok, now back to pictures of the Eiffel Tower...
Friday night Diana and I explored this street near us that is nothing but Sushi restaurants and Korean barbecues. We picked one that was busy, not with tourists, but with actual Asians. Always a good sign!
The prices were fantastic. For 11,50 euros you got Miso soup, a salad, and two rolls- a virtual steal for dinner in Paris.
However, sushi is not the most filling and around 12:00am Diana turns to me and says, "We should order pizza." I tried to explain that late-night pizza delivery in France is almost unheard of, but she insisted so I started researching online. I found a fantastic resource for restaurants (www.restoexpress.fr) that allows you to enter what you are hungry for, where you live, and whether or not you want delivery...and low and behold, there was a late night pizza place open in our neighborhood. Twenty minutes later, the pizza arrived.
Never thought I'd see the day in France where something you want is not a huge hassle to get. I was only able to finish 2 slices, but Diana did some damage and was extremely happy.
Well, that's all for now. I do have a few more stories in my arsenal for you for the next post, including Morgane's overnight stay sleeping on my floor and going Salsa dancing!