Monday, February 21, 2011

Twelve hour adventure in Paris!!!

So, after dancing all night at with the Brits and the Brazilians, Juju and I showered, changed, and was on our way to the St. Pancras station at King's Cross to catch the Eurostar to Paris early Saturday morning. What were we thinking????!!!!!

I thought I'd sleep on the train, but I was too excited. Ju, on the other hand, was sleep shortly after we'd made it out of London. As the ticket agent had explained, the countryside was a lovely scenic backdrop to our journey to Paris Gare du Nord. I can't front, I was a bit nervous considering I speak very little to no French. I was feeling inadequate and wondering why it is that I've yet to master more than English and I'm almost 32. And, I mean, I can get along in Spanish, French, not so much..... It was interesting that with the very few phrases that I actually know in French, I'd say them and then Spanish would come rushing to my mind! "Bonjour, como se llama 'telephone??' Es 'telefonique' no?" Ummm, no! "Ahhh monsieur, a que hora es, s'il vous plait?" Not, quite. "Madamoiselle, por favor, un bolsa para mis cosas??" NO! I am determined to learn French though, so 2011 will have to be the year I begin a concentrated effort. Even now I'm looking up classes at 92y since they seem to offer them every few weeks... but it looks like their most recent classes began on 2/1.. oh well.

So, once we arrived in gay Paree, we figured out how to make it around on Le Metro! First we stopped for our first official Parisian croissant and expresso, before heading to Le Tour Eiffel! I'll spare you the details of how spectacular the Eiffel Tower was and recount our funniest moment of the trip! So, there were all of these Senegalese vendors on the road leading to the base of the Tower. While Julia was looking to purchase a lighter from one, we noticed a wave of people starting to run in our general direction! A stampede of sorts, and it was quite scary and comical all in the same breath. Mainly because Julia noticed the stampede and started running with them, whereas I more calmly surveyed the area and determined that a) only the African vendors were running, and b) none of the other tourists or Europeans looked even remotely concerned. It was quite amusing to realize that there was one Parisian police officer on a bicycle rolling around trying to confiscate their loot! ONE officer on a bike! And ten, twenty, thirty five vendors (and Julia!) were running like crazy, jumping over gates trying to get away!! She ran for about a yard or two, then stopped to see that I was not running so she should probably stop! MAN did we crack up!!! For the rest of our lives, we will be crackin up over that incident!!!

So, once we finally got ready to leave the Eiffel Tower area we made our way past the Trocadero, where we added our names in dry board marker to the vandalized stone (I was sooo nervous!!) and passed by our first vendor to fall in love with one of us, Aziz! He was from Morocco and when I bought the little purse from him, he asked for a hug and a kiss, so I humbly obliged! He was very "ooo-lala my belle!", a very charming fellow! Then we made our way over to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées which is one of the most famous streets in the world! When we got off the metro, we walked over to the Les Invalides, which was completely and utterly ornate and beautiful! Walking along the river Seine, we could barely contain our excitement! This is where we crossed paths with our next Parisian who fell madly in love with Julia, Fabrice the roasted chestnut vendor. He also was a charming fellow, and had a lot of interesting conversation for us to show how nice the Parisians are. He explained that he loved jazz music, as opposed to hip-hop, and proposed to Julia just before I bought a package of war, tasty chestnuts!

From there, we made our way to the Lourve, which was very majestic, indeed! We didn't have enough time to go in, but we mainly stood silent taking the scene in at a misty sundown in Paris listening a man play a haunting flute melody. I cannot wait to go back!

After spending a serene time at the Lourve, we continued forging through the street of Paree, and ended up in a Brazilian peace rally where there were drummers and dancers all in white coats and attire chanting for some kind of civil change. I wish I'd been able to understand what they were saying, but it was quite the site!!! We took that in for about twenty minutes or so, then found a souvenir shop to by things for family and friends...

After a bit of shopping, it was just after sundown, so we thought we'd make our way to Chateau Rouge, the little Africa of Paris. Before we arrived, we were in le metro and passed a young man singing Ordinary People by John Legend, so I decided to stop and sing with him!! It was great! Folks came by and stopped and put money in his little tip jar. And after Ordinary People we sang So High, also by John Legend... That was quite entertaining, and I actually made a point to video record all of the music I heard underground in Le Metro. I keep saying it, but it was all quite enchanting!

Once we arrived at Chateau Rouge, we found a guy from Senegal I believe to show us to a little hole in the wall restaurant where we could eat. Of course he spoke no English, nor did the proprietor, but we were able to order. And she was nice enough to find a guy in the restaurant who did speak English, in case we needed to ask for something. That was definitely the greatest representation of Poisson Fritte we could have ever had! A man from Zaire who spoke no English made his way over to our table, and insisted on engaging me in conversation, the little conversation that we could possibly have. It consisted of a lot of "how are you"s and "you are beautiful"s and "thank yous" etc. He asked for my number, I kindly declined. As kindly as I could in French'glish. However, inside of that little hole in the wall spot was the most entertainment one could find on a Saturday night! It was sort of juke joint, sort of hood spot, very African! The characters in there!!! One guy had on a braided outfit (that's the best way I can describe it) and was standing up making some kind of monologue, but it seems no one was really listening to him. Julia was calling him the Dave Chappelle of Paris. Then some other cats came in dressed just as wack....

We had no idea what the total was but left her what we thought would cover the cost of dinner plus a nice tip... Then with the little energy we had, was able to find our way back to Nord, two stops away. We definitely slept on the way back, and grabbed a taxi from St. Pancrass back to Ben's flat.

Overall, we made a whirlwind of an appearance to the Paris scene! I must return soon and really DO it. But, that was a wonderful introduction....... :D C'est la vie! And what a wonderful life it is!

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