Thought you may enjoy my daughter's adventure to Paris several years ago. Jen is very much a "free spirit" but at the same time she is very honest about it and somewhat fights her free spirit too. All and all, she is so funny when she tells me her stories, I just had to memorialize these here.
I found my old e-mails to everyone while I was in Paris last.
I compiled them into a little journal. Interesting read.
All my Paris Journals
I am 9 hours ahead of all of you - Crazy Stuff!
On the flight I met a really nice girl named Amelie and she lives in France. We exchanged e-mail addresses but I managed to loose hers by the time I got to the hotel.
I arrived yesterday morning and went through customs just fine but then I forgot to get my suitcase and went directly to the money exchange window instead. I realized that I messed up about 10 min. in line so I decided to just do the exchange and then somehow get back into an area that was restricted once you leave. Culture shock just set in now because I realized I couldn't just tell someone that I forgot my suitcase in baggage and that I need to get back in. So, I decided to just wait till someone was coming out and slipped in without being seen. Scary security there :) I managed to get almost all the way in when three security looked over at my guilty face - I played the dumb blond and used sign language to get my way through.
Once that was over I needed to find a taxi and get the heck out. I frantically dug for a copy of the name of the hotel and got in the cab and pointed at the piece of paper - luckly he knew where it was located. Little did I know it was going to be an hour and a half ride in serious traffic to get there. I was having talking withdrawal at this time so I just blurted out "Hey, your electrical poles are different than America" He almost crashed I startled him so - he said what and while I was repeating what I said I realized how dumb it sounded and that he had no idea what I was saying. He said that he didn't speak English and continued to drive. Longest silent ride of my life.
Finally getting to the hotel Robert greeted me showed me our room and headed back to work. I took a long bath and went to sleep till Robert came to pick me up for lunch. I felt much better and headed out with him to find restaurant. We picked a cute little cafe and Robert had mushroom ravioli's with major cream sauce and I had salad with hot goat cheese. Really there wasn't anything else to choose from but the salad part was really good. Then Robert walked me back to the hotel and he headed off to work telling me he would be back aroundfor dinner. I took another long nap and then got up and went out - very intimidated I felt like a total tourist without a camera. I wanted to fit in and I so didn't. Culture shock something bad. I got and idea from a television show I like to watch called "Dog Whisperer" where this guy "Cesar" tells people how to take control of their dogs and become the pack leader. I thought I would use his techniques and when back to the hotel room and put on my headset and turned up the music and took control of my situation. Stand tall and owned the sidewalks. I stepped out feeling so good and fitting in. I walked for a couple of hours and on my way back to the hotel, as I was casually walking blowing bubbles with my gum - a French Guy stopped me and said something about blowing bubbles and started a conversation with me like I was one of them. I hated stopping him to tell him that I was American and didn't speak the language but I had to. He said he thought I lived here. Yes, I had pulled it off. Then he gestured to go have a cup coffee with him and try to communicate to each other. Well, It was almost and I need to get back to the hotel to meet Robert so I pointed at my wedding ring and gestured to my wrist that I had to go meet my husband. He said please just 5 min. I said okay and here I was walking to the closest coffee place with a local. I think he ask me what kind of coffee or something (the sign language wasn't working well - so tried to say the opposite of grande and that didn't work so I gesture small cup and he said okay and went in to it. I was still chewing that gum so I needed to find a trash cane to chuck it. No luck - not a trash in site. I asked the owner for this and she thought I was saying I needed a ash tray. I pointed to my gum and she and a customer said (in french) go outside and throw in the gutter. I thought "I am not going to dirty another country" and said no to them - so one of the customers got up and walked me outside and pointed to the drain in the gutter - he gestured spitting it out in there. I reluctantly did it and he was so happy. I went back to table to continue the conversation with the coffee guy. He wanted me to teach him English and me to learn French from him - this went on for a few min - I learned his descendants are from Armenia. I had to leave so he asked if Robert and I would meet him back at the coffee shop at and he would show us around and have some drinks. I said bonjour and left
Robert had this are you crazy look when I told him my story. I'm not sure I'm going to get him to meet this guy.
Anyway we went to a cute vegetarian restaurant and had a full meal (Robert is really good at ordering in French with ease). I had vegetarian pate, a bean stew and chocolate cake. I'm drinking the water here so I hope I don't get sick.
That was my first full day in Paris - I'll send pictures when I get brave enough to look like a tourist and take them.
2nd day in Paris, France
Today I learned the Metro and took myself to Place de la Contrescarpe. It took 3 different Metros and a short walk to this fascinating place where there is a farmers market, cobblestone roads, fountains, cafe's and great people watching and not tourist kind either - the French. :) There I read my book outside a cafe while I drank a glass of wine. Atall the schools let out and lots of students passed by. Later two of those teenagers were in their room on the third floor above a corner grocery store - they were up to no go - I could just tell. I watched further and noticed that they were throwing bread at the people going by - too funny. An old man cursed at them and they hid till it was safe and continued. When that got boring they got glasses of water and began pouring it on unsuspecting people below. One of the girls noticed me giggling in the cafe and watching them. She waved my way so I waved back. Unfortunately someone that got drenched went up to their flat and told their parents - so the fun was over. About 10 min later - the girls came outside and called me over to chat with them. I paid my tab and went over. They were just bored 13 year olds with nothing to do but be bad - they showed me where the mail is for all the people in their apartment and proceeded to pull out mail from one and put in another - they were having a ball. I attached a picture of the place I was and the girls Charlotte and Lu. I waved goodbye and headed back to the hotel where Robert was still working hard at his computer.
We are about to go to dinner now.
3rd day in Paris
Robert had to go to a customers site today so no lunch date for me today. I walked to a vegetarian restaurant we went to for lunch yesterday and got a bit lost but then found my way - they are so sweet there I took a picture of the lady that spoke English and interpreted the menu for me. Today I was a tourist and I embraced it.
Then I was off to see the Jardin du Luxenbourg - wow it took my breath away. Statues everywhere and I love statues - best art out there. Flowers are all in bloom and the Parisians were sun bathing in the wonderful weather. They don't have signs for the lawns you can go on and the ones you can't - I got busted trying to get a good picture - oh well. I walked for hours and hours. 40 cents to potty and 5 blisters later I made my way back to the hotel for a nice bath and nap before Robert got back and said "I'm done working and on vacation now - lets go see the city".
We took a couple Metro's to go to dinner at an Indian restaurant that was absolutely fabulous! We then went to the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed the wonderful views at night. I really didn't want to go up the thing until I saw it in person then I was like - "lets go up" Poor Robert got suckered into buying me a rose from a vendor - I loved it though.
We then rushed back before the Metro closed at- very close. I am going to sleep really good tonight.
I was petting some guys dog while he was in a shop - he came out and said "looks, here is a gift for you" and handed me the leash. I said "no, no" and he said "Yes and he even knows english - watch" he tells the dog to sit and the dog sits - he says "see he does know english" Robert managed to get me away before I took a brown lab home to american with us. :)
I found a health food store on the walk back from site seeing. I went to open the door but I pulled instead of pushed. I thought maybe they were closed. Nope they were watching me look stupid because the note on the door said push - of course it was in french and I can't read french - They all giggled when I finally figured it out. Stupid American. :)
I am going to miss the bidet - It's like taking a bath through out the day - fresh and clean. :)
The metro doors don't automatically open like they do on bart. You open as you need. I stood there the first time and was like "this thing is broken" Someone showed me - how embarrassing.
People don't have right away when it comes to crossing the street. You know me - I almost get killed anyway crossing in California. A local was watching me trying to cross (in a cross walk) a busy street and was giggling at me dodging cars and then going back to the curb again. I guess it did look kind of silly - especially because I just wanted to get over there to take a picture and when I was done I realized that construction had closed the sidewalk ahead and so I had to cross again in front of that guy - I did a better job of running that time.
As you can see its very early in the morningand I can't sleep. We are going to a new hotel in the Latin Dist and I'm excited. Robert is out like a light.
I guess I better try and sleep myself - big day.
Day 4 in Paris
I had a bad case of excitement last night so I got about 2 hours of sleep. I couldn’t wait any longer so I woke Robert up atwe went to sleep at so this wasn’t much sleep for him as well. Today we are leaving the 14th Qtr and heading over to the 5th Qtr (Latin Dist). Our check out time was and check in time at the new place was so to kill an hour we asked them hold our bags for a couple hours while we walked to lunch. We ate at Aquarius one last time and of course the food was fabulous and the service so friendly. This vegetarian restaurant is a tiny little place and the owners are a happy older couple that sing while they work. Beautiful place. We then said au ruvoir and left to wander the streets counting how many baguette we see people carrying around – we got to 25 in less than an hour and we met lots of dogs and one cat that was peering out of an open window on the 1st floor apartment. The cat looked very French and snobby. Too cute – wish I had brought my camera. I stopped in a small store and bought a scarf – I was all green and yellow – we kept seeing the color green that I was wearing on everything so we got a picture of a fence with me matching so well. J
After picking up our bags and catching a cab for the new hotel we checked in and met our new room – so cute and quaint with windows that open over the special streets. The room is perfect I love it. The colors are calming and home feeling with a milk chocolate wall and multi paint transfer on the rest with natural hews – the curtains are burnt orange and milk chocolate strips. Very nice. A little LCD TV is hanging on the wall and plays one English channel but again boring stuff compared to the outside world.
When we got finished getting situated we ventured out into our new environment. "Wow" is all I kept saying with cobble stone EVERYWHERE and gargoyles peering down from above. We only stepped a block away and discovered a tiny church that looked pretty cool from the outside – I notice the door was open so of course me – I walked in and holy cannoli was it a find. I will attach picture from it. I can’t even describe the beauty and the fact that it isn’t on the map is crazy.
We continued on to see the Notre Dam and although we didn’t go in (because the line was too long for our patience) the outside was a sight to see. I have never hung my mouth open in awe for so long ever.
Later we had dinner at a vegetarian restaurant where the waiters spoke pretty good English. – Yummy gourmet food. Walked across the oldest bridge in Paris and checked out the night scene.
Wow was I tired at the end of this day. With no sleep the night before I slept so well and I needed that.
We went to the Louvre today – I saw the things I most wanted to see. I am now very statue, painting and antiquities out. My feet are killing me and Robert can just keep going – I will have to rest a bit before our next urban hike thru town.
Yesterday I had a banana split with sorbet instead of ice cream - yum. I went to use the rest room - the only one I found was just a urinal. So, I went to the owner and asked where the toilette is and she pointed to the place I just came out of. I told her (mostly sign language) that it was just a urinal. In so many words she said that it was much cleaner because I wouldn't have to sit down. Okay - I gave it a shot. She was right and that was my first experience with a urinal. :)
Last night we had Mexican food - didn't really taste Mexican it tasted Paris Mexican - but it was good and healthy.
Today we are headed to the palace of Versailles should be pretty cool.
The weather was about 70 - 75 degrees and so beautiful. Perfect day for the Versailles - We rented a golf cart and rode around the entire gardens and over to the "hamlet" where Marie Antoinette had her little pretend village. Really the golf cart was only for an hour - the rest of the time we wandered all around for about 5 hours I took tons of pictures - I loved it. My feet are so dead - but later we went out for dinner over in the 4th qtr. Great food - then we looked for some cute pubs but the 4th qtr is a bit seedy. We did end up finding a couple places and then went off looking for the oldest house in Paris - we found it - down a little dark street out in the middle of seedyville. built in 1407 Its a restaurant named Nicolas. Popular name here in Paris.
We are waking up early to fly away home to USA in the morning. good night.