06.06.2011 by Andrea
A word to the wise. Don’t tell your kids that there are starving children in third world countries who dig through the garbage looking for food and would love to sample the very items you’re attempting to coerce your child to eat. While true, if you happen to be bestowed with a kid like myself you’ll later find out in life that what your child didn’t enjoy in their lunchbox was donated [round filed] to the starving children in these countries with the intent of it being a win-win. I certainly didn’t want my fresh fruit, and surely a child in another country was going to be elated about their find of an undamaged morsel in it’s entirety.
That being said I was surprised to find myself really embracing fresh fruits while I was in Italy and Spain. I usually avoid fresh fruits like the Bubonic Plague. I’m not sure what it is: texture, flavor, sticky fingers … but something typically has me holding back from buying the fresh stuff. I like pineapple, assorted berries, canned fruits, fresh coconut sprinkled liberally with lime juice and salt, as well as tomatoes. That is all. I thought this trend, of fruit enjoyment, would continue when I arrived in Paris. Not so much. I consumed cheese, cheese, bread, meats, and cheese.
I’ll be honest. Paris didn’t have me at my finest form. I think I was ready to seek some normalcy after sleeping in hostels where one of my suitemates would talk in his sleep in his native tongue, the symphony of snoring surrounded me all night long, and feeling like I was locked in a gas chamber as natural body functions emitted toxins in the air. Not a big deal when you’re sound asleep, trying to fall into a deep slumber when all this is going on and your olfactory senses are being assaulted makes you want your own bed.
Upon my arrival to Paris I immediately trudged to the nearest grocery store, grabbed some water, a baguette, and a cheese platter. This turned out to be my saving grace as I decided to ride the metro out to Notre Dame. The weather was beautiful, my allergies to my natural surroundings had me sniffing a bit [Claritin to the rescue], and thus began my sightseeing. Paris has a lot going on. I walked into the Notre Dame cathedral and then followed the Siene down past the Louvre, crossed over the Champs de Elysse, scampered up and descended slowly down the Eiffel Tower [which I was surprised to see was painted a dirty muddy brown], and then over to the Arc di Triomphe. Needless to say, after an early morning wakeup call in Madrid, having to find my hostel, and then trudging around all afternoon I was tired. So I grabbed some more bread and cheese from another little store. Then I think the clouds parted and the smell of garbage dissipated around me as I wandered into a grocery chain I wish we had stateside. Picard. Apparently I am not the first person to be enamored by this place because not only did my walking guide the next day show us one of these little budding starlets in French cuisine, another gal blogged about it recently. Thank goodness for Google Translate because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to read a word on their website and would left salivating at the pictures in their catalogue. I am not sure exactly what I ate that evening, I know that the picture on the box had chicken, and it was tasty. The whole experience is the cats meow, the store is sleek, only serves the best flash frozen cuisine, and should I ever be over in Paris again, you can bet your bottom dollar you will be able to find me in there at least once.
I had all intentions of heading back to hostel, heating up my pre-dinner frozen goodies and then hitting the streets for some good people watching. Apparently my circadian rhythm had determined otherwise because I woke up post shower, fully clothed [aka ready to go out], flipped over and went back to sleep.
Since I had received a full nights sleep I got up early and was on the first train out to Versaille. I had plans to find a creperie, which I did, and then bike around the town. Apparently you can now also rent Segways to tour around. Biking through Versaille was fabulous and it worked up my appetite. I had a lovely French luncheon with a warm goat cheese salad and then decided to hop on the train and commence my vacation coffee drinking pledge with one final cappuccino. I got off near the Latin Quarter, wandered through some shops and then decided on a cute bistro that was near the river and in a sunny location. I walked to the counter, bought my tart treat, and then approached a table near the sidewalk. All of a sudden I was being hurriedly rushed away from said table by the waitstaff. Since I didn’t speak French, through some pointing, and nodding, it became clear that depending on how much I was paying determined if I was standing at the bar, sitting inside, or had paid for premium curbside seating. I hadn’t upgraded to the super value meal, and quickly swallowed my drink and slunk off embarrassed.
I got back to the hostel, not really sure what I was going to do with the rest of my afternoon. I was desperately looking to charge my phone through my USB connector [since my convertor had been left in Madrid], and was hoping I could hook up to somebody’s computer. I happened to run into a suitemate, from Costa Rica, who was going to going on free walking tour of the area which were staying. At this point I was feeling a bit underwhelmed with Paris. Part of it could have been fatigue, but I realized that I had been gallivanting all through touristy spots, and hadn’t gotten to the nitty gritty of the city. I just wanted to experience the essence of this city that some many had raved about. My walking tour was the best decision ever, I learned more about Paris history, smelled wafting odors from great bistros, sampled a macaroon, and saw where artists had lived, dined, and worked. It was the perfect nightcap to a trip that was coming to an end the next day. Unfortunately I had a mishap with my very favorite pair of sandals that I had taken with me on most of my trips for the past 7 years. I had even left them in an LA hotel two weeks prior to my trip, and had managed to track them down and have them shipped to me. So imagine my dismay as I am crisscrossing cobblestones, and trying not to trip while walking up hill [all while attentively listening to my guide] when I realize that my toes are gripping just a tiny thread that is barely attached/holding on to my leather sole. The tour had not quite ended, and I was still not close to my hostel. Yet somehow I managed to make it through the rest of our walk, and two blocks outside of my hostel before my flip gave up and came to a crashing end. I certainly made every attempt to subtly drag my shoe to the hostel before hopping and then finally taking it off and walking up the stairs to my room. A bittersweet end to a loyal travel accessory.
Rather than sit around and mourn the end of said sandal, I slipped on a fresh pair of sneakers, and then headed out to my final dinner. Not quite ascertain what my belly was wanting to eat, I wandered for a bit, and then ran across an Italian restaurant, and it only seemed appropriate to close the trip with the same meal I began with when I got to Italy. Pizza. Same kind, as my very first piece, only this was freshly made for me, and I ate the entire pie, every last morsel, with no regret.
Heading to the airport the next morning it was hard to believe that 10 days had already elapsed. I had a great trip, and look forward to more solo adventures. I think in the future until I commandeer more of the local lingo I am going to venture into a few places where I can converse more. I wasn’t meant to be a mute! Iceland, anyone?
Thanks for following me on this journey, looking forward to getting a few more stamps on the passport in the coming year.
Until the next bite, cheers.