Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Les Kebabs

I don't understand why Kebab stands are not everywhere in America.  They are amazing.  Don't get me wrong, I love the crepe stands here, but holy god are kebabs good.  And as luck would have it there is a kebab café (although that makes it sounds grander than it actually is) right next to the Laundromat where I dry my clothes.

Tonight I felt it was time to wash my sheets, so I stuck them in our washer.  While our washer is both a washer and a dryer, as a dryer it really sucks.  So instead of waiting about an hour and a half to get semi damp sheets out of it, I decided to take it to that laundromat and dry it for one euro.  That one euro gets you nine minutes of dry time, but those dryers are nuclear powered so it works really well.  (No they actually aren't nuclear powered...)

So anyway, I decided to get some dinner while I was waiting for my sheets to dry.  I walked over to Kebab Sali and talked to the guy.  He was huddled up in the back of the restaurant (again I am making it sound much grander than it is) with a portable radiator right next to his legs.  I had met him a few times and we kind of talked a little bit.

The first time I went there was a few weeks ago, when a different man was working behind the counter.  The guy that served me my food tonight was there, but I think he was just hanging out.  Anyway, the main guy (I think he is the owner?) asked me where I was from and I told him America.  He went off on how great America was and the differences between the people in Europe and Americans.  He told me he used to live in Montreal and that he much prefers the people there to the people here.  I was just thinking "Wow! I can understand what he is saying to me even though he is speaking French!"

I've been back a few times since, everytime always talking with the guys behind the counter.  When the main guy works he just goes "Salut American!  Ça va?!"  And the best part about it is that they hook me up with some extra fries.  And usually some more of the kebab meat (which is the best meat I've had in France).

Tonight the guy and I were talking as usual.  I found out that he is Algerian and that he has never had alcohol.  He also said he doesn't eat pork, so I am fairly confident he is muslim.  But he also told me that he has never had a girlfriend since being in France.  If I understood him right, he said that he wants me to bring a friend over to introduce him to so he can marry an American.  I told him maybe...

Needless to say I am going to go back to that kebab place quite often.


Amsterdam was awesome.  It was not like any city I had ever been to.  I honestly had no idea what to expect when getting there.

Nick got to my house on Thursday morning around 8:30AM.  Our train ticket wasn't until 12:30PM so he decided just to sleep off some of his jet lag.  I was supposed to go to class, but I didn't... Oh well.  I've learned that while yes, it is very important to go to class here, it does me no good to feel super stressed out about it.  So I stayed home so I could meet Nick when he got here.  I also hadn't packed yet so I took some time while Nick was asleep to get my suitcase/backpack all in order.  Then we were off to Gare de Nord for out high speed train to Amsterdam.

We took a Thalys (it is the company that operates one of the high speed trains in Europe) and got into Amsterdam about three and a half hours later.  From Amsterdam Central Station, we took a tram to our hotel.  I was in charge of getting the tickets to get to Amsterdam and Nick was in charge of getting the hotel.   In true Nick fashion, he waited until Monday to get it, but I can't complain because it was an awesome hotel.  It was a best western, but it was located right next to Vondelpark close to both the Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum.  It was just beyond the outer most concentric canal of Amsterdam.

One of the first things we did was buy a DK tourist guide to Amsterdam.  It had Amsterdam's top ten things to do, so we read through it and kind of planned out our days there.  We had virtually three and a half days there, because our train didn't leave until late Sunday night.  We were able to do eight of the top ten.  We went to the Rijksmusuem and the Van Gogh museum, the Histroich Museum, the Anne Frank Huis, walked around the red light district (I saw my first prostitute!), as well as some cool old churches.

I have to say, I'm really glad I got to cross Amsterdam off of my list and I had a great time, but I don't think I'm going to go back anytime soon.  It was a great trip, and I'm really glad that I got to hang out with my brother.  The fact that Paige and Bailey (two friends from Y&G) came to visit on Saturday was incredible too.

I should note that there didn't seem to be any major Dutch cuisine.  I had some waffles (with cherry pie filling and whip cream) which were INCREDIBLE, but I felt like that was a Belgian thing, not a Dutch thing.

All in all though, I would recommend Amsterdam for people who want to relax.  It isn't a very fast past town.  There was a lot of stuff to do, but most of that involved smoking pot... Nick compared it to Vegas, and I think he made a good point.  The most fun part about Vegas is gambling.  That doesn't mean you can't have fun in Vegas without gambling, but its why most of the people go there.  Just replace gambling with pot smoking and you have Amsterdam.  Since neither Nick nor I wanted to do that, we still had a good time, but our options of things to do was a bit more limited.

It did make me look forward to my trips next semester though!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


That could possibly be my favorite place I've been to in France so far.  When I was in high school and I studied abroad I was in the South.  Living in Nice, I got to go to Cannes, Antibes, Eze, Monaco, and a bunch of smaller cities.  I know I love the Riviera and the ocean, but there was something amazing about getting out of Paris and going north.

The day started bright and early for me.  I was supposed to me my friend Cam (he's australian) at the train station to catch the train to Caen which left Gare St. Lazare at 9:10AM.  We had plans to meet at 8:40AM just to me on the safe side.  Something that is awesome about France is they have this train pass type thing for people that are between twelve and twenty five years old.  That pass allows you to get a reduciton on your tickets anywhere within France.  For us, round trip to Caen it was thirty two euro.  So we were stoked.  You just had to make sure you had that on you when you show your ticket to the guy on the train. And guess who forgot his...

So at 8:50AM I realized this.  I had my backpack (full of my cameras, extra sweaters, a scarf, you know, the really important things...) and my big heavy winter parka on, running from the metro stop back to my apartment.  I tried calling my roommate to see if she could meet me downstairs but she didn't pick up her phone.  So I was freaking out, panicking that I was going to miss this train.  I made it to the train station with my card with literally one minute to spare.

Cam and I get our spots on board.  I could breathe.  I take off my parka and my sweater and breathe.  My face is as rosy as a tomato and I am sweating.  Keep in mind it is in the thirties outside.  Then we hear an announcement in French over the loud speakers. "Ladies and Gentleman, in order to secure the train, we will be delayed for twenty minutes."


But what ever.  We got to Caen and all was well.  Except for we didn't really know how we were going to get to the beaches from there.  Caen is about eighty kilometers from the beaches so we were kind of just stuck.  Then Hans comes up to us.  Hans is this eighty something german man saying he was a tour guide and had been for thirty-five years.  In the peak season his tours were seventy-five euros per person, but he could give it to us for sixty.  Cam and I say we need a few minutes to talk.  There was no way we were going to do that for sixty euro.  But we go up to him a few minutes later and said we couldn't.  Then he says we can take it for fifty.  So we do.

It actually worked out really well.  He wasn't the most knowledgeable guide, but he did take us to the main spots.  We saw the four cannons that took down a British destroyer, we saw some of the landing beaches, and we were able to get out and walk around at Omaha beach.  Omaha beach is one of the prettiest places I've seen in France.

We had amazing good luck because the sun was out the entire day.  In Normandy in the winter, that is incredibly rare.  But there we were, driving around with the sun shinning on our faces.  At Omaha, Cam decided he wanted to get into the water.  So he did just that.  The water must have been no warmer than fifty degrees.  But he went in in his skivvies.  I stood there and watched.  I was freezing in my t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, sweater and parka.  And he was running into the ocean with a bathing suit that was just a little more than a speedo... But hey, to each his own...

After Omaha Hans took us to the American Cemetery.  A word about Hans though.  I have no idea if this is true or not, but he was telling us a little bit about his life.  When he was sixteen and a half (in 1944) he decided instead of being drafted into the Nazi Army he would volunteer to go to officer school.  So he did just that.  He enlisted and was a part of the Luftwafa in Northern Denmark. The coolest part of the story was that a few months before the Nazis finally lost, he deserted and went to Austria to meet the woman he was in love with.  I know, kind of just the perfect Hollywood drama, but it was what he told us his life was like!

Anyway, back to the American Cemetery.  It was amazing.  I probably took as many pictures in that one hour we spent there than I did in the three hours seeing everything else.  Rows upon rows of crosses denoting soldiers that had died.  The most moving one I saw was on that said something along the lines of "here lies a soldier known but to god" with a single yellow rose sitting at the bottom of it.

All in all, I know I need to get back to Normandy.  It was a beautiful place and I know I haven't seen nearly enough.

Tu me manque

Sorry I haven't been writing for a while.  I think it has been over a week since my last post.  Luckily that is a good thing.  I used to write on here to de-stress, to get out every thing that I am feeling and think through my decision to stay in this country for a year.  So by not writing it means that I am not as stressed, I don't need to complain as much.

But the purpose of this blog is also to update future AJ and my family on what has been happening here.  And there have been some important points I feel like I should mention.  The first one has to do with my bank.  I know I've complained about BNP Parisbas before.  Basically in France you have to prove that you have a house before you can fully open up your account.  Michele (my first host mother) wouldn't get me the paperwork when I was there (which is totally fair considering I was there for about a month) so I was excited to move into my apartment where I could prove that I lived here.  I took in my contract to show them that I lived here.  They said that didn't work. Ok... that is annoying, but I guess I will have to wait for my gas bill.

After the first month, Aliya and I still hadn't received anything from the gas company saying we owed them money or that we even had a contract.  I was getting kind of anxious to open up my account so I could get a good cell phone and the carte ImagineR (cheaper metro pass than what I have).  So finally about two weeks ago, the attestation from the gas company arrived.  So I took it in to BNP really excited to finally be able to open up my account!

I walk in and show them the document.  I figured it should be really simple.  I mean it has my name on the contract and my address, as well as contact info for someone at the gas company that could verify that it was a legit document.  So I go and talk to the receptionist at the bank.  "Hi, I'm here to open my account I started to open two months ago.  Here is my attestation."

Her response.... "Ok, I have to check to see if this will work..."  She catches a banker and all I hear is him say "Non, ça ne marche pas..." "Nope, that won't work." ARE YOU KIDDING?!  I HAD WAITED FOR TWO MONTHS FOR THEM TO TELL ME THAT I STILL COULDN'T OPEN MY ACOUNT??!!?!

I think the first thing I said (in english, becuase before I was speaking french to the lady) was "OH MY GOD."  Then I told her that I just wanted to close my account.  She said that if I had a gas bill or electric bill it could work, but at that point I was blinded by rage and all I could say is "Je veux fermer mon compte" - I want to close my account.  I have to say its probably a good thing that French is not my first language because considering the level of frustration had I known how to swear in French I probably would have...

So I am without a French bank account.  Next week I am going to a different bank and try to open up an account.  I have heard that Socité Géneral is a lot easier to use.  I am going to go with them.  Let's hope that I can actually open it up.

That was last week.  And really that was the only major thing that happened to me last week.  Nicki and Maddy left, and Aliya's family friend Winnie was staying with us.  Winnie was really cool.  She pretty much just spent her days walking around Paris on her own because Aliya was in class/ not feeling well/ doing homework.  But now she has left too.  It is weird having our living room back.  I forgot how much space our apartment actually has.

Yesterday though, I had a little panic attack.  Remember that Law class that I hate?  So we have to do a Revue D'Actualité and an Étude de Jurisprudence (a press review of some legal decision in the news, and an essay on some kind of legal decision) which are due week nine and week ten.  I was all set to turn in my Revue this monday.  I actually had finished it Sunday afternoon, so I was feeling good about myself.  Then I get to class...

Turns out I got my dates mixed up.  Week nine was last week and this week was week ten.  My stomach dropped and that all so familiar feeling of wanting to vomit came back.  Boy, how I missed it...

I was freaking out for two hours, before I could tell my professor what happened and why I had messed up.  I e-mailed her at the beginning of class as well.  I waited after class to talk to her, but I had to go to my other course that started fifteen minutes after.  So I got up to her and waited.  I was first in line.  That doesn't mean much to the French.  I ended up waiting about twenty minutes to talk to her.  When I did, she seemed a little nice, but it was definitely one of those things where if I kept trying to explain she would have just gotten annoyed with me.

But she did respond to my e-mail.  I told her that I was really sorry and I got confused and that life in France was super stressful for me.  She literally said not to worry, breathe deeply and just try to "finish the semester beautifully."  I feel like I need to buy her a present or something.  It was the best thing she possibly could have said to me.  So luckily I get to turn in the Étude de Jurisprudence on Monday.

So those are everything exciting that happened to me between now and the last blog post.  That and my Normandy trip, but I'm going to write a specific blog post just on Normandy.  Hopefully I'll do that later today.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Je deteste les dimanches

Sundays in Paris are really boring.  Especially in the winter.  I don't quite know exactly why, but the French have some sort of moral opposition to doing anything on Sundays.  Now I'm all for relaxing and taking it easy on the weekend, but when their week day starts somewhere between 9:00AM and 10:00AM and they take two hours off for lunch and still close by 5:00PM I take umbrage at the fact that NOTHING is open on Sundays.

If the weather was nice I don't think I would mind as much.  But lately the weather has been cold and rainy.  If it was just cold I could deal.  I've come to a new realization that I absolutely hate the rain.  It just makes everything so annoying.  You are never comfortable walking around in it.  Plus with everyone and their mother carrying umbrellas around there is no space to walk on the sidewalks.

Tonight is Nicki and Maddy's last night in Paris.  I have had so much fun with them, I'm really sad to see them go.  I feel like I haven't gotten to do that much with them though.  The one thing they have been doing is cooking though.  They said they really wanted to cook, so in the last week, they made this really good Egyptian pasta lentil dish and some of the best French Onion soup I have ever tasted.  Tonight they are making some Thai food.  If it's anything like what they cooked for me before, then I am super excited.

After dinner tonight, we are going to go see Boyce Avenue in concert.  They are a group that does mainly acoustic guitar/piano covers of pop songs.  My friend Jessica showed me this group my freshman year of college and I've been hooked since.  I'm really excited to go to this concert.

But it is still a Sunday.  And it may just be that I have my law class Monday mornings at 8:00AM, but I really don't like Sundays.  I always end up feeling that weird empty unaccomplished feeling right in the middle of my chest.  It always goes away on Monday, but it always comes on Sunday.  I think I'm going to do my best to get my courses next week not to be on Mondays.  Or at least not until Monday afternoons.

Until then I guess I just have to figure out how to get through this!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Disneyland Paris

Yesterday Maddy, Nicki and I went to Disneyland.  It was like stepping into a weird twilight zone-esque version of Anaheim.  We took the RER train there, which drops you off right across from their version of Downtown Disney, what they call Disney Village.  It even has some of the same stores.  There was a rainforest café and a Planet Hollywood.

We didn't buy our tickets ahead of time so we had to go and get some.  We were just going to do the one park one day ticket (there are actually two parks at Disneyland Paris, regular Disneyland and then Walt Disney Studios park).  Literally as we were walking up to the counter to buy our ticket, a young man, probably no more than twenty-one asked us if we wanted to buy his tickets.  He was selling three park hopper passes for fifty Euros each.  Basically it would allow us to go in between both parks, when ever we wanted, and it was eighteen euros cheaper than what the park was selling.  We were a little skeptical, but we bought them anyway.   They were amazing.

Because we got those tickets, we were able to go through all of both parks, or at least the parts we wanted to see.  We started in Disneyland, going clockwise.  Our first ride was the Haunted Mansion.  We then got fast passes for Big Thunder Mountain and ate.  After we got done with lunch, it was time for our fast passes.  Except the weather sucked.  Because it was raining, they shut down BTM for a while.  They said we could come back later though and our fast passes would still be good.  So we went on to Indiana Jones et le Temple de Peril.  It isn't at all like the Indiana Jones back in D-land CA.  This one is a proper roller coaster.  And it goes upside down.  The loop in this ride came out of no where.  They semi hid the track so you had no idea that it was coming up.

After we finished on that side of the park, we skipped through Fantasyland (we knew we were going to come back that night) and headed over to Tomorrowland (which the French call Discoveryland... lame right?).  We waited about forty minutes in the downpour to go onto Space Mountain.  It was worth it.  Space Mountain is by far the best ride in Disneyland.  It has one of those launch starts and goes upside down three times.

After Space Mountain, we headed over to Walt Disney Studios.  It was raining pretty hard and all of our feet were wet.  None of us had rain boots, or really rain appropriate shoes of any kind.  So we were kind of miserable.  Our outerwear was starting to leak through too.  We almost decided that after going on Tower of Terror that we would just go.

So we headed over to the Tower and saw the line.  It was fifty minutes long, so we headed over to Rockin Roller Coaster to get a fast pass and then got in line at the Tower of Terror.  To get our minds off the weather/our squishy feet Nicki, Maddy and I played stupid word games that were a lot of fun.  We also just talked and caught up even more.  That is exactly why I like Disneyland.  And three or four people is the perfect number to go with.  Everyone gets to do a little bit of what they want, no one is being left out.  It just works out well.

The line wasn't that bad and we made it on.  Then headed over for our Fast passes at Rockin Roller Coaster.  Despite it breaking down literally right before we got launched into the ride, we were having a fun time.  We eventually got on and had a blast.  What's better is that by the time we got out of that ride, the rain had stopped.  It was about seven so the park was closing.  We had to go back to Disneyland anyway.  We still hadn't gone on BTM or done Fantasyland.

So we did just that.  We went on BTM (sooooo awesome) and then to Fantasyland.  The rain kicked up a little tiny bit, so we got dinner at a Pinocchio themed restaurant.  I forgot to say that the park was already dressed up for Christmas, so it was really festive.  We got to listen to Christmas carols while eating.  Also, something else that was awesome... the food prices weren't super ridiculously high.  It was only ten euros for a burger, fries, drink and a dessert.  That would have been double at D-land, CA.

After we knocked out Fantasyland, we headed back over to Space Mountain.  Since the parade was going on, we literally walked onto it.  We rode it twice.  I love that ride...

However, all of that did make me realize how much I miss my warm CA and the Disneyland I grew up knowing.  I am really looking forward to getting back to SB and road tripping down to Anaheim with my friends.  I've already talked to one and she is 100% in.

But it is true, Disneyland (no matter what country it's in) is the Happiest Place on Earth.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mes amis vont venir!

This has been the season of friends visiting.  First was Anni, then Nick and Carolyn, and now Nicki and Maddy.  I couldn't be happier to see people from home here in Paris.  It makes it a lot easier and reminds me of what an amazing life I have to go back to!

Although I have been having more fun here.  Yesterday my roommate made a faux thanksgiving dinner.  We're too poor to afford Turkey, so she got a chicken.  It may have been a mind trick, but when all cooked, it definitely tasted like turkey.  And it was a legitimate faux Thanksgiving.  We had stuffing (she actually cooked it in the body cavity), cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, cooked veggies.  True to form though, the appetizers and desserts were a bit more french.  They don't believe in shortening in this country so I couldn't make a pie.  And we had some friends bring cheese and crackers for appitezers.  That was on top of the coconut/garlic/lemon shrimp Aliya cooked.

It was a great night.  We had about ten people over to share in the festivities.  Aliya had about four people she had met and subsequently introduced me to, and the other five were from our orientation group or friends of theirs they introduced us too.  I have a good solid group of people here in France.  I am incredibly thankful for that.

It is going to be really weird next semester when half of them go back home.  I've spent so much time getting to know them, doing things with them, and they are going to up and leave.  Seriously? How is that fair.  But what should I expect.... It is france.

Speak of, semi-good news!  We got confirmation from the gas company that we have an account with them.  I think that means that I can finally open up my bank account.  If that happens that means I can get a metro card and a black berry!  To have internet on my phone again!  (Wow... I just realized how that sounded...) But if that happens, I might finally be able to call France home.  I'll have a European bank card, a cell phone and a transit pass.  Only two and a half months later...

C'est la vie!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ma vie

So I've been in France for over two months now.  As I predicted, my frequency for posting on here has dropped off.  I am going to try to not let that happen.  It's going to be kind of hard though, because I have a lot of people visiting me.  Anni came, and then it was Nick and Carolyn.  They got here Friday night and left this morning really early.

I had a lot of fun seeing them.  Friday we didn't do much.  I had to go tutor my students, so while I was there, they went over to the Louvre.  Most of the museums in Paris have this deal where if you show then your visa, you can get into the museum for free.  So they were able to go into the Louvre without paying a dime.  I've actually been three times because of that.  After I met them, we headed up to my house and went to a really good French restaurant.  I decided that I am going to take any and everyone who comes to visit me to that restaurant.  It is really traditionally French, and their food is out of this world.

On Saturday, the weather was really crappy.  But, we met up with a lot of my SciencesPo friends and went to the catacombs.  The catacombs are really weird/creepy/awesome.  Literally walls of bones stacked about five feet high and in some spots they are three or four feet thick.  Someone told me there were over six million bodies down there.  I would believe that.  The bodies dated from the late 1700's to the early 1800's. The meticulous care that went into organizing the catacombs was eerily beautiful.  Skulls in the bone walls were put in formations, sometimes crosses, others just designs.

The catacombs kind of made me a little reflexive.  I know I said before how I want to make a lasting impression the earth.  I wonder if any of the nameless people down there thought the same.  It was bizarre seeing skulls of actual humans that history had long forgotten.  People used to live within those skulls.  And now they are nothing but decorations in a tourist attraction.  It made me start thinking about what I really want to do with my life.  Yeah, I know cliché.  But then again we all know how much I'm a fan of cliché.

After the catacombs, Nick and Carolyn went to the Eiffel Tower.  I headed out to get lunch with some of my friends and then up to my house.  I stopped at Picard to get some frozen food for the faux thanksgiving dinner my roommate is cooking today.  I really like Picard.

Last night, we went out to go see the Moulin Rouge and Sacré Cœur.  It was still raining so we were only out long enough to see the sights and get a crepe.  God bless crepes.  That is going to be a big part of what I'll miss about this country.  That and the ability to speak French to the people on the street.

I've been having trouble sleeping lately.  I have had to take some advil PM so I can fall asleep before 2:00AM.  And since taking those, I've been dreaming a lot.  I have had a few dreams in French, or at least partially in French.  I've also had some dreams about Santa Barbara.  I had one last night.  Every time I have a dream about Santa Barbara, I have that incomplete feeling when I wake up.  It isn't quite homesick, but it definitely feels like something is missing.  Hopefully once  I shower and get going here I'll remember what I have going for me here and it will go away.

I'm going to my first class in over a week tomorrow morning at 8:00AM.  I don't want to go.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Le Salon du Chocolat

On Anni's last day here in Paris, we got tickets to go to le Salon du Chocolat.  Oh...my...god...

This is the world's largest chocolate expo.  We left the apartment at ten and go to Porte Versailles (not to be confused with the Chateau) where the expo was being held.  It was basically a huge convention center that they filled with venders.  The first thing we did was get in line for some hot chocolate.  I have been craving real good hot chocolate since I got here.  The french drink coffee, so they don't have any hot chocolate anywhere.

After I got my fix, we started on the vendors.  There were too many to count.  They represented different types of chocolates, different regions, and all with different products.  There were people with chocolate straight from the Amazon.  There were vendors selling chocolate beauty products.  One of those vendors actually washed my hand with this pumas stone.  My hand smelled like marshmallows for the rest of the day.  It was delicious.

And what's more is every one of these vendors gave our samples.  I had more chocolate in those two hours we spent at the expo than I had in the last year.  I still don't think I could eat any.  Luckily my roommate bought some, so I can ask her if I ever get the urge.  I don't think I will any time soon though.

I'll be putting up pictures from the expo asap, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Parc Asterix

What is more fun than going to an amusement park with your friends?  My favorite memories at Disneyland are with friends, same with 6 Flags and Knotts Berry Farm.  So I thought it would be a good idea to go to a french theme park for Halloween.  I mean, they Parisians don't really do that much on Halloween anyway, so I figured it would be a fun way to spend it.

But then again, I should have remembered this is France.  And nothing in this country is ever as simple as it seems.

We started our journey off at 2:30 on Sunday.  We all met up at the trainstation.  We needed to take the RER line, which is the line that takes you out into the suburbs.  From there we would have to take a bus from Charles de Gualle airport over to the park.  Simple right?

Nope.  Getting to Charles de Gualle wasn't hard.  We made it in the twenty five minutes the website said it would take to get there.  But once there, life descended into chaos.  From what I can tell, the French aren't really good about queing.  My friends and I were standing in the line to get the bus ticket, and every time a new train arrived, a bunch of teenage french kids would just run up to the front.  We were all kind of getting annoyed, but what ever, we got our ticekts.

Then we had to go stand outside and wait for the bus.  For what ever reason, the Parc Asterix people thought that one bus every thirty minutes would be enough to transport the masses of people from the airport to the park.  They were wrong.  We waited in that line for an hour and we still weren't going to get on a bus.  What was worse is that every time a new bus would arrive, masses of people would rush to it and start banging on the windows.  My friend commented it that it was reminiscent of the last bus' leaving New Orleans before Katrina.  And reallly... she wasn't that far off.  It was ridiculous.  And we were only going to a theme park!

So we just decided to screw it and we got a cab.  We sold our bus tickets to people in line and we headed off to terminal three to find a cab.  Since there were so many of us, we had to split into two.  Five in one, and five in the other.  But it was worth it.  About ten euros later, we were at the park.  We even worked out with one of the cab drivers that he would come back and take us to Charles de Gualle that night so we didn't have to freak about getting back to Paris.

The time at the park was a lot of fun.  There was probably a billion people there.  It was great people watching though.  And some of the people in our group I hadn't met before so it was nice getting to know them.  We only got on about three or four rides in our five hours at the park, but it was still really fun.  I was just glad we went on the roller-coaster.  And of course, we had to end the night with a haunted maze.  I was legitimately spooked.

And then came time to go home.  Like I said, we had worked it out with the cab driver to come pick us up.  Unfortunately we had to wait around for his friend to come to pick up the other half of the group.  And the meter was running.  Needless to say, we were not too happy.  And to make matters worse, two girls in our group just ditched us and decided to take the bus, leaving fewer people to pay for the cab.  I was livid.  But it all ended up working out.  And we may have told them we didn't get back into the town causing them to worry.... I know... it was mean, but it was just a little halloween fun (right?).

All I know  is that I want to go back to the park when 1. it isn't 40 degrees and 2. there will be fewer people there.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Le weekend dernier

So as I figured, I wasn't able to get on and blog about what I was up to with Anni.  For those of you who don't know who Anni is, I worked with her at the VC last summer.  She also lived on the floor below me my freshman year in Santa Cruz (although I didn't meet her until last summer).

Wednesday night I met her at the metro closest to my house, then we went straight to the Michael Bublé concert.  And my god... what a concert.  We got there about fifteen minutes into the opening act, who were brilliant.  It was the same group that opened for him when I saw him my senior year of high school, but they had gotten a LOT better.  It was a group of seven guys who were doing all acapella stuff.   After they finished, there was a twenty minute break and then Michael came out.  Our seats were fantastic.  We paid for the cheapest seats (fifty-one euros), but they were directly in front of the stage, probably a hundred and fifty yards away.  I'll be posting my pictures/videos as soon as I can.

That concert was exactly what I wanted/needed.  It was one of those refreshing my soul is complete moments.  I've had a few of them since being here.

Anyway, on Thursday I had to go do my normal stuff.  I had class in the morning, came back, left for my afternoon class and then came back.  I had choir that night, so I wasn't sure what she was going to do.  But turns out she is awesome.  She was completely fine just hanging out in the apartment until I got back.  Actually, we had gone to the store earlier so when I texted her saying I was leaving rehearsal she started cooking fajitas!  I had mexican food here in France.  You have no idea how much I miss it.

On Friday we started our touristy stuff.  We did the Louvre, went over to the Eiffel tower and walked around the city.  I took her to show her SciencesPo too.  That night was my friends' Brendan and Atika's joint birthday party.  We sat upstairs having some drinks (I got my diet pepsi... don't worry), and ended the night down on the dance floor.

Saturday we went to the Musée Rodin.  I feel like saying it was gorgeous is both repetitive and not fully accurate.  The gardens in the museum were full of trees changing colors.  It was raining early that morning, so the air had that nice crisp feeling to it.  It wasn't too cold either.  After the museum we went to the 5th for food.  Then we walked to Notre Dame.  In the cathedral we heard a choir singing traditional Gregorian church music.  Another one of those soul recharging moments.  After the church, we tried to get to the catacombs.  They literally closed one minute before we got there...  That night we walked up halfway to the Eiffel tower.  I hadn't taken the stairs up before.  For someone who is afraid of heights it was a bit freaky... but I'm really glad we made it.  We got there just after the sun had set, so the sky was full of oranges and reds and blues.  After that, we took a cruise on the Seine.  Now that I wrote all that down, it would have been the most romantic date ever... haha too bad there are some obstacles preventing that.

After our long day of sight-seeing, we were starving.  Anni really wanted to go to a traditional french restaurant, but I didn't really know of any.  And then it hit me.  I did!  There is a bistro up close to my apartment that Aliya and I went into the first day we moved in.  I had the best chicken ever then so I figured that we would try that place.  So glad we did.  It is the most perfect stereotypical french place.  The prices are super reasonable and the food is out of this world.  They are french portions, but you do not leave there hungry.

Sunday morning we were going to try to go back to the catacombs.  It was halloween after all...  Turns out a lot of other people had that same idea.  We didn't want to wait in a three hour line to get into them, so instead we headed off to the Champs Elysée.  We did some window shopping and ended up going to Laudrée, a really famous bakery.  They make the best macaroons in the world.  Or so I've been told.  Anni's friend who had been to Paris before asked if she could pick her up some.  So we did.  Then we had to go back to the apartment, drop the stuff off and get ready for our night going to Parc Asterix!

Parc Asterix... oh my.  That's going to have to be a post in it of itself.