Cherché Paris en la Nuit

“Now what do you want to do?”

The first night in every city is daunting. Do you want to see the highlights your first day or save some for your first full day?

My travel pattern so far has been to explore that first day/night to get an idea of the transit system and where things are located. It has proved successful do far.
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Staying in Montmartre is a bit far from the main attractions of Paris which are mostly in the 7th arrondissement. Alors, we hopped the metro and ventured off to see PARIS!
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After walking around a bit we realized we were near the louvre. Then a few more turns and, in the distance, we saw the glass pyramid designed by I.m. Pei. I squealed. I’m not ashamed. Maybe I pranced with a bit of frolicking. It wasn’t my most masculine moment but I don’t care. We snapped some pics then soldiered on pointing at buildings we’d long read about but had never seen in person.
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A few more turns and I saw it. Bright in the night. Just the narrow, skeleton top. Le Tour Eiffel! This is one of those moments in your life when it’s ok to pee your pants. Just a little bit. It’s amazingly impressive to see an international landmark. Le tour Eiffel quintessentially IS Paris.
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Nous faisons une promenade à le Tour Eiffel. There is a mini arc de triumph which we initially mistook for the real thing. Le grande arc is a ways up Le champs des Élysées. It took a while to get there on foot. But when you do…
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It is breathtaking. Unquestionably impressive and beautiful.20140528-072013-26413755.jpg

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Every hour at night, the tower sparkles for 5 minutes. Make sure you stay to see this. Overall, there’s no better way to see a city then to visit some of it’s quintessential attractions at night. So what if it’s touristy. You ARE a tourist.

Vivre le grande vie!

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Bonjour, Croque Monsieur!

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After battling frugality-induced starvation in Venice, I was glad to see so many shops while walking to the hôtel in Paris. I saw tous les mots I learned years ago in French class: boulangerie, pâtisserie, supermarché. I read a few articles on budget-friendly restaurants, but most listed were about €20 for dinner.

After wandering around Montmartre we started to get hungry. Typically deciding on a place to eat takes a while. We are both indecisive and have no clue if the food is good. Each pick is a pick out of the chapeau.20140527-224138-81698542.jpg
Aside from 1-2 meals on this trip, the food has all been good with a few great dishes. So, we can’t really go wrong. We decided on Chez Ginette.
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Pour dîner, nous decided on ratatouille et un croque monsieur. Yes, I have watched “Ratatouille” and loved it. I had tried making my own in the past and at restaurants. Neither came close to the original. Theirs was heavy on bell peppers. Plus it came in this mini cast iron pot.

The sandwich came with fries and a petite salad. On our way to Paris we listed a few dishes we were hoping to try. I’d had the grilled cheese with ham variant in the past. Chez Ginette served it as an open-faced sandwich, but the shining factor was the basket of frites. I want it. Badly.
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Another dinner sur les livres. I find my years of français are slowly coming back. Les Parisians aren’t as likely to acquiesce and start spending English. This has forced me to awaken that part of my brain that once knew how to form simple sentences in another language. The first night was rough, but we were able to order and request the check. Not très mal pour un homme qui n’étudie pas français en 7 ans.

Scenes from a Mexican Restaurant II

church, chicago, dating, night, date, burrito, taco, dinner

“One lengua taco,” he said enthusiastically. “And I’m torn between steak and chorizo. What should I get?”

The cashier shrugged his shoulders. Then the man continued, “Which is better? Which would you get?”

“The steak,” the cashier said assuredly, but in a way that conveyed that it was an obvious decision.

“OK. One steak taco.”

Mr. Indecision was on a date. I wondered if his matchmaker was Tinder, OK Cupid, eHarmony or a site I’ve yet to be told about. Judging by the lack of mentions of Jesus, I’m ruling out eHarm. He was about 5’9″, had a reddish-brown beard and wore glasses. His date had curled, dark brown hair and looked like she’d dressed up for the 9 PM fourth meal.

Their conversation hit all the usual notes of a first date: music, comedians, smartphones. Despite his earlier indecision, the timbre of his voice when talking about potentially getting Spotify to listen to comedians was assured and confident.

The taco date lasted about 20 minutes. He kept trying to find commonalities with his date. Her answers were abrupt and I felt sorry for the guy, who was trying far more than his date.

As they went to leave, the guy had gone first out of the booth and his date trailed behind before opening the door for him.

They headed out into the blustery spring night, each going a different direction, in search of their next taco date.

Scenes from a Mexican Restaurant

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She slowly slid down the booth at the taqueria. Her toes reached for the lip of the bench on the opposing side, but her legs were just a few inches too short for the restful comfort of the other side.

She had placed her order for a burrito to go. Wearing flats, black tights, a polka dot skirt and a light coat, the woman in her mid-late 20s stood for a while staring at nothing in particular before deciding to sit.

With her back to the counter in the taqueria with five booths, she stared onto the glistening street. It had drizzled earlier in the evening. It was the sporadic rain that makes you question if someone spat off a roof and hit you, or if it is, in fact, raining. After enough spittle from heaven, the traffic and street lights reflected in the street speckled with pot holes.

She ran her fingers through her wavy, shoulder-length, chestnut-brown hair before sliding another inch down the booth bench. She flipped her hair from the right to the left, then back.

“Burrito dinner, to go.” the cashier announced, looking in her direction.

But she was lost in her thoughts, her toes getting ever closer to relaxation after a long Monday.

The cashier moved closer to her from behind the counter and repeated, “Miss, burrito to go.”

Bending her knees and sliding back in the seat, she sat up and rose from the bench to pickup the plastic bag with the Styrofoam container. The cashier smiled as he handed over the dinner special.

She headed out into the windy night looking for a place to rest her feet.

Rich Kids of Instagram Got Nothing On Me

Here are my photos from last night’s Yelp Elite event at E+O Food and Drink in Mount Prospect. If you’re an elitest like I am, you find complete bliss in the exclusivity of being invited to private dining events. It gives me a glimpse of what life must be like for Adam Rapoport at Bon Appetit or Phil Vettel over at the Tribune.

“How do you get on the list?” you ask.

Start reviewing your experiences for the places you frequent. The main focus is building community, so interact with others. Like or comment on their check-ins. The neatest (I’m bringing ‘neat’ back) element is interacting with people that you primarily know from the app/online.

Another fun bit is being in a room with a bunch of other people who constantly photograph everything they put in their mouths. No judgment. Just good food and good people. Maybe you too will meet your Yelp wife at an event.