Sunday, June 30, 2013

Living La Vida London: Paris Weekend (Sunday)

Here are some things I learned during my 48 hours in Paris:

1) I need to learn more French.
Knowing how to ask if someone speaks English and how to say hello as well as thank you are pretty important things, but I will never again go to another country without having at least a basic knowledge of their language. It was actually extremely easy to get around Paris only knowing a few key phrases, but I would have liked to understand what they were saying and then be able to respond in some way. Basically, my next few birthday and Christmas lists are going to consist of Rosetta Stone program requests.

2) Don't ever act like you're better than someone else just because you're American.
It's true that the French can be very rude and very pushy, but that's only because the people they are interacting with are acting like they're entitled to the help or the things they're requesting. I absolutely loved the French people and was so touched by how completely kind and generous they were when I interacted with them. I am under the impression that those in my group who complained about the attitudes of the French people acted like they should have what they want simply because they want it... you know, like children. It's true that the French are definitely a little bit more forward with their emotions and can be a bit pushy if you're in their way, but that's kind of just how they are. The only time anybody gave me any sort of crap was when I accidentally walked backward into an older woman on the Metro. She was giving everyone the stink eye though, so I didn't feel too upset about it. Seriously though, I am so impressed by the kindness and love I was shown in Paris.

3) Take it slow.
This applies to most areas of life, but today in particular. Yesterday was about a sixteen hour day for my friends and me, and we were all absolutely exhausted by the end of it all. Today we really just wanted to see a couple of things and relax a little. So we did those things and walked at a pretty leisurely pace going from one thing to the next. We also took time to sit and relax in some pretty incredible locations. Not only was today one of the best days I've had on this trip, but it was also one of the best days I've had in a while. Period. We didn't get nearly as tired as we were yesterday (although we all sat like zombies on the train coming back to London), and we had a really wonderful day. We were the good kind of tired today.

4) French men are absolutely gorgeous... for the most part.
I cannot tell you how many guys my friends and I checked out during our stay in Paris, but it was a lot. Nobody prepared me for that aspect of Paris and it made the trip very enjoyable. They dress nicely, they usually smell good, and they actually talk to you instead of just standing around being shy about speaking to women who they think are attractive. Now that is how things should be done.

5) There are over 300, 000 dogs in the city of Paris.
I love dogs. So much.

6) Paris is not as dangerous as everyone says it is.
Sure, there are pickpockets, but there are pickpocket pretty much everywhere. If you're careful and more importantly, aware of your surroundings, you'll be just fine. I'm pretty sure I met a couple of shady characters while I was there, but I came back with all the stuff I went with. Plus a few things. Just don't be stupid. That's a pretty good rule of thumb for life in general.

7) I will return to France.
I adore France and am trying to figure out when I can go back. Today's weather was unreal and I really want to be able to go back around this time to the French countryside and also to Cannes so that I can enjoy the beautiful French summer weather. It's funny, the summer there is extremely similar to San Diego's summer. Maybe that's why I loved it so much. Basically, I will have learned enough French to speak a little and read a menu, and will spend more than just one weekend in France. It's too gorgeous and too full of wonderful things to explore for me to only give it a single weekend.

So there you go. France is great and I would do it again tomorrow if I could.

 Notre Dame is sort of something you have to see to believe. Also, don't go there on a Sunday if you're planning on going inside. The line is insane.

This is the epitome of adorable little French pastry shops. The old couple who ran it were so kind and so patient with us English speaking folk. Everything in this shop looked divine and like pastel colored bliss.

This would be Megan having a spiritual experience while eating French macarons. We searched for them, and we found them. France, Megan thanks you.

I love Notre Dame.

 This little book shop was James Joyce's office, was featured in Midnight in Paris, AND was frequented by the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein. The current owner (Sylvia Beach Whitman) was there, but I didn't say anything to her because that's just the way I am. It is the perfect little bookshop and I wanted to live above it so that I could go downstairs and read all the books I could ever wish for downstairs.

Let me tell you about the next couple of pictures. My friends and I decided that we wanted a soda and a hot dog for lunch before we headed back to the hotel and then to the train. We found a cafe with waiters who spoke English right next to the Notre Dame and sat outside to enjoy the sunshine. We then ordered the biggest drinks they had, expecting them to be McDonald's size large drinks. No. These were ginormous drinks. And the hot dog was also giant. The delicious discovery I made is that brie cheese is good on and with pretty much everything. I've found my new cheese addiction. These enormous hot dogs are covered in grated brie cheese and you are given mayonnaise and ketchup to put on top of your hot dog. I put both on and soon came to find that the fresh baguette the hot dog was in made it impossible to fit in my mouth. Fun fact: I can fit my fist in my mouth, so that hot dog was huge. But it was delicious and totally worth it.

My final shot of the Seine River simply because I love it.

 Another fun fact: don't buy matching berets and scarves while you're in Paris. People will laugh at you because you look really stupid. Y'all aren't five, so don't match like that. I don't care if you're "just having fun". Just don't do that.

Last pictures of Paris are of their city hall because it's that beautiful. I also hung out in front of one of the fountains they have one either side of this building for a good hour with my posse. Then we had to leave for the train. It was sad, but really nice to come back to a place whose main language is English.

I absolutely adore Paris and am so grateful that I got to go and see this wonderful city. I will miss it until I see it next. 
Au revior, Paris. Je t'aime.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Living La Vida London: Paris Weekend (Saturday)

I took far too many pictures today because I lost control of myself. I'm not really one to take pictures of everything, but Paris is so beautiful that it was hard to resist. I would also like to say that the people of Paris continue to be very kind and I would probably come back if I got the chance some day. I would probably speak a lot more French than I do right now and spend more than just a weekend here. I would also worry a lot less about being pick-pocketed. The truth is that Paris is actually a very safe city so long as you're continuously aware of your surroundings.

I saw and did so much today, that I think a bunch of pictures would be much better than me trying to explain every detail of what I saw and did.

 Oh nothing, just the Eiffel Tower up close.
 That lovely lady photobombing my nice picture is the "Sass Master" from Jersey herself, Megan.

 This is basically the main drag in London. It's where they have all their major celebrations and parades.
 Louis Vuitton headquarters, obviously. Complete with golden dinosaur skeletons.

 I'm seeing Notre Dame tomorrow, so you'll be seeing more of this building soon enough.
 This is the church that Owen Wilson sat on the steps of before he was transported back to the 1920s in Midnight in Paris, which happens to be one of my favorite movies and part of the reason I wanted to come to Paris in the first place.

 They were restoring a portion of Sainte Chapelle, but it was still one of the most amazing things I have seen this trip thus far. I cannot even imagine how much time and effort goes toward making this display as beautiful as it is.

And now the Louvre, because it's something you absolutely have to see if you're ever in Paris.

 My girl, Lisa. She's actually much more impressive than people have said. They talk her down far too much in my opinion.
After a long day navigating Paris and seeing some pretty iconic things, our study abroad group went to dinner at this restaurant that was actually very good... except for the part when the steak I was supposed eat was so rare that it actually had coagulating blood still in it. That still sort of makes me want to vomit. We then all headed down as an obnoxiously loud and stereotypically American tourist group to the Seine River where we took this completely wonderful boat cruise along the river. The day cleared up and the sunset was absolutely beautiful, as was the rest of what I saw.

This is the Eiffel Tower sparkling as it does every night. It's kind of amazing.

After thinking long and hard about what I want to get here in Paris, I decided that getting The Hobbit in French and possibly something else that is unique is something that I would be interested in. I'll let y'all know if my mission is successful tomorrow. I'm also eating my first macaroon and French hot dog ever! They say that one of the best ways to experience Paris, is to eat all day and walk to city at night. I'm about to do the former tomorrow. I'm also coming to find that I just might be a little bit lactose intolerant as well as have a little bit of an issue with glucose, but I love both of those this too much to give them up. So basically I'm going to power through the stomach aches and sick spells so that I can do some "French" this tomorrow. It'll be another grand adventure.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Living La Vida London: Paris Weekend (Friday)

That's right, I'm in Paris now. It's only for the weekend but it's happening nonetheless. As you could probably gather from my last post, I was not too thrilled to be leaving London for a place that doesn't speak my language and is also requiring me to learn how to navigate at least some of it. It's still pretty overwhelming, but I'm actually liking it here so far. People have been extremely kind- one person even helped me out in the Metro (Paris's version of the Tube) when my ticket wasn't working! I'm still rather touched by that act of kindness.

I took the Eurostar under the water all the way to Paris. That's pretty cool if you think about it! The trip over wasn't too bad, but there were some pretty irritating people in my section of the train that decided the seating assignments didn't apply to them. So we all had to wait for everyone to get on so that we could figure out what they all messed up. I swear, I must be blessed with an abundance of intelligence or something because when I am told that I need to do something or else it will effect other people negatively, I listen and act accordingly. I simply do not understand how some people get through life acting like they are the most important person in everyone else's life. Please be courteous to those around you- really all it takes is to stop and think about whether or not you would be very pleased if someone did to you what you're thinking about doing to someone else. Also, it's a sign of immaturity. We didn't actually see much of the city today because we got here early this evening, but I did get to see the Eiffel Tower on the way to our hotel. I didn't have my camera on the coach with me, but I will have it with me at all times from now on.

So after our entire group missing a boat tour we were supposed to take, a group of three of us decided to look for something to eat... so we found a McDonalds and ate there. I ordered from this machine that allowed me to see the menu in English and I was so grateful for that! The tray was dirty, but hey, I got my food and was no worse for ware. On a really awesome note, there was a guy there who looked exactly like Seth Rogen, but wasn't Seth Rogen. I know this because he was speaking French and I don't think Seth speaks this language... or is in Paris at the moment. Here are the pictures I've taken so far; I'd love to tell you about some of the things I took pictures of, but the names and descriptions were in French so I really can't.

The view from my hotel room:

This is a gorgeous cathedral near where we got off the Metro. I would love to give you some sort of awesome back story, but I honestly have no idea how to read or speak French. I'm finding out more and more that I would feel much more at home in a place like Spain where I could understand at least a small portion of what's going on.
The next few pictures are of this absolutely massive building that looks like it could have once been been some sort of palace but is now probably a museum. It is absolutely beautiful.

This is a fountain we stumbled upon just sitting in the middle of a square. There were some pretty rough looking French people hanging out around it like it's no big deal that this gorgeous fountain that's probably at least 200 years old is behind them. It's amazing that so many things here in Europe are much older than the United States as a country is. I'm not saying this fountain is, because obviously I don't know, but just think about that for a moment. It's humbling to think that our country is so young and has become so much of a powerhouse so quickly. This is where I will stop and proclaim God bless America. (But here I'm Canadian, just in case anyone asks. They don't like gross, loud, and drunk Americans around these parts.)